What It Means to Be Sober Curious

If you’re participating in Dry January this year, you may have come across the term “sober curious”. But what does this mean and how can it elevate your daily wellness? 

Coined by author Ruby Warrington, the term “sober curious” means to question every impulse, invitation, and expectation to drink alcohol, rather than simply go along with our society’s dominant drinking culture. While total sobriety is a lifestyle choice that can stem from alcohol dependency or misuse, sober curiosity is about making thoughtful decisions about when and how you’d like to consume alcohol. 

There are many reasons someone might choose to practice sober curiosity, most related to physical and mental health. For example, reducing the amount of alcohol you drink can lead to a happier gut, improved energy levels, sharper concentration, and, according to a 2016 British study of about 850 people who abstained from a month, better sleep. Some members of our team have also chosen to practice sober curiosity as a way to save a little money and enjoy more productive Sunday mornings!

If you choose to challenge your relationship with alcohol, you won’t be alone; sober curiosity is growing in popularity. Dry January, a campaign that encourages people to cut alcohol from their diets for a month, continues to swell in participants each year, while sober bars that offer mocktails and CBD-infused drinks are cropping up around the country. 

However, being sober curious is often easier said than done as so many occasions in our culture—from weddings to holidays, sporting events to after work gatherings—often feature alcohol as a focal point. When offered a drink, Ruby Warrington recommends asking yourself three simple questions rather than automatically accepting: 

 

  • Why am I choosing to pick up this drink? Perhaps you’re saying “yes” because you want to have a good time with friends or maybe you’re looking for a way to manage stress. When you’ve discovered your reason, you can ask your further questions to determine whether alcohol needs to play a part. Could that party be just as fun without a cocktail? Is there a way you could bond with friends that doesn’t involve alcohol at all? Would meditation be a healthier coping mechanism for anxiety? 

 

  • Why is it expected of me to drink? Pause to consider whether it would really matter to the people around you if you choose to drink or not. If the answer is “yes”, it may be worth questioning whether this environment is a positive one. 

 

  • How is this drink going to impact my well-being? Are you prone to stomach upset and headaches after a night of drinking? How energized will you feel for tomorrow’s activities? Will buying a round or two cause your monthly budget to take a hit? 

 

It can also be useful to keep a list of reasons why you’ve chosen to question your drinking habits on your phone. This can serve as a reminder of your interest in sober curiosity when social pressure grows intense, and reframe the practice as a way to make space for the things that matter most rather than something that restricts you.

When it comes to actually communicating your choice, we recommend doing a little prep work. If asked if you’d like a drink, be ready to vocalize your decision with a simple statement, such as “I’m not drinking this month”. It’s also a good idea to have alternatives you can present when invited to drinking occasions. For example, if you normally visit bars with a friend, you can suggest trying out a new cafe or even going on a hike together.

We also love exploring alcohol alternatives. Infused with broad spectrum hemp, the Aplós Alcohol-Free Spirit can be used to create cocktails, while the Vybes Sparkling Adaptogenic Drinks offer the balancing benefits of adaptogens like ashwagandha and rhodiola as well as delicious flavor combinations such as Watermelon Lime and Pineapple Ginger. 

We hope this has helped you figure out whether sober curiosity is right for you. And if you’re ready to jump in, feel free to live chat with us to learn more about the wellness products we offer that can help you on this journey. 

 

A note from Standard Dose: If you’re concerned you may be experiencing alcohol dependence, we encourage you to seek medical advice. The sober curious movement is not designed to address serious alcohol issues, and we recommend using this navigator from the NIAAA to help you find an approach that’s right for you.