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Sober Curious Movement

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The sober curious movement is a trend consisting of individuals who do not consider themselves alcoholics but want to experiment with sobriety to see what positive changes it can bring to their life. If a person identifies as being sober curious, they are striving to become more mindful of their drinking habits and face the reality that drinking can have adverse effects on their health, relationships, and overall well-being. If you have concerns about your drinking, becoming sober curious means examining your relationship with alcohol and enacting changes, whatever your goals may be.

If you have been unable to control your drinking and are curious about exploring sobriety’s benefits, you are encouraged to seek professional treatment to help you break free from your reliance on alcohol. Guardian Recovery offers comprehensive programs and customized treatment plans that provide individuals with the tools they need to overcome obstacles to recovery. We can help you develop healthier ways of coping with life’s challenges and sustain long-lasting sobriety.

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The Problem With Alcohol

Alcohol is legal for adults age 21 and older to consume and is widely available. Unfortunately, for many people, it’s habit-forming at best and highly addictive at worse. While many can drink in moderation, others struggle to control and misuse it in harmful ways. For example, a recent national survey found that nearly 15 million Americans ages 12 and over were addicted to alcohol. (1) Furthermore, the rates of binge drinking and alcohol addiction have increased over the past 20 years. (2) With the prevalence of alcohol use, misuse, and dependence, some speculate if it’s even possible to have a sensible relationship with alcohol without adopting a completely alcohol-free lifestyle.

Goals of the Sober Curious

A sober curious approach to drinking may be appropriate for those with concerns about their alcohol use but are not alcohol-dependent. A typical sober curious person tends to drink socially and has considered reducing alcohol use but doesn’t know if they need to quit drinking entirely.

Goals of the Sober Curious Include: (3)

  • Questioning the use of alcohol.
  • Increasing awareness of drinking habits.
  • Questioning the decision to drink on every occasion.
  • Taking breaks from drinking.
  • Engaging in more sober activities.
  • Spending time in social environments without drinking.

Reasons for the Uptrend in Sober Curiosity

Several reasons may be contributing to the uptrend in the sober curious movement. First, we have grown more health-conscious as a society and are still learning about the many adverse effects of drinking. Alcohol use and misuse have been associated with short- and long-term health conditions, mental health disorders, and legal and financial issues. As a result, some are deciding to avoid alcohol to promote a healthier lifestyle.

Also, an increasing number of people are engaging in binge drinking (4) but are not diagnosable as alcohol dependent. (5) Although these individuals may sometimes suffer from hangovers or the social effects of occasional heavy drinking, they do not usually incur the severe consequences of alcohol addiction. However, some individuals are concerned about alcohol’s high potential for adverse effects and reconsidering their drinking habits. They might question whether they’d be better off if they became more mindful of their alcohol use and adjusted their intake accordingly.

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Benefits of Adopting a Sober Curious Approach to Drinking

A sober curious lifestyle requires rethinking decisions about drinking and not merely succumbing to social pressures or transient cravings. For many people, this means both reducing alcohol use on single occasions or taking breaks from drinking, as this could make it less likely to become ingrained as a daily or weekly habit.

Binge and heavy drinking can be detrimental to your health. For example, it can increase the risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and several forms of cancer. People with addiction problems are also more likely to experience mental health disorders. (6)

Chronic Physical and Mental Health Effects (7) of Alcohol Misuse Include:

  • Liver disease.
  • Digestion issues.
  • Heart disease.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Stroke.
  • Weakened immunity.
  • Learning and memory impairments.
  • Mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
  • Alcohol dependence and withdrawal syndrome. (8)

General Benefits of Reducing/Discontinuing Alcohol Use Include:

  • Reduced risk of numerous short- and long-term alcohol-related health complications.
  • Decreased risk of psychological issues, emotional dysregulation, and cognitive impairments.
  • Increased energy and physical stamina.
  • Improved relationships with family and friends.
  • Improved social interactions, especially those that don’t involve drinking.
  • Avoidance of alcohol-related legal repercussions, such as drinking and driving charges.
  • Less financial issues due to reduced alcohol-related spending.
  • Better professional or academic performance.

Specific Physical Health Benefits of Reducing/Discontinuing Alcohol Use Include:

  • Weight loss.
  • Improved insulin resistance.
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduced cancer risk.
  • Reduced risk of liver disease.
  • Better quality sleep.
  • Increased energy.
  • Reduced stress.
  • Better hydration.
  • Prevention of hangovers.

Incorporating Sober Curious Principles Into Practice

If you are interested in the sober curious movement, there are several strategies (10) you can use to incorporate their basic principles into everyday practice and determine if this lifestyle is right for you.

  1. Question your relationship with alcohol. Take time to consider if your relationship with alcohol has transformed over the years, how it changed, and where it is today. Try to identify ways drinking has negatively impacted various areas of your life.
  2. Engage in physical activities. Being active and engaging in exercise or sports-related activities, such as running, going to the gym, etc., increases feel-good hormones in the body. Doing this can help boost mood and reduce anxiety and depression. If you have alcohol cravings, seeking healthy recreational activities can reduce stress and make them more manageable.
  3. Invest time in a new hobby. Spend free time engaging in a hobby or relaxing pastime, such as reading, painting, gardening, etc. Consider taking on a long-term endeavor, such as a home improvement project, requiring substantial work and attention. The longer you stay busy and enjoy yourself, the less likely you’ll be thinking about drinking.
  4. Avoid places and events conducive to alcohol use. Stay away from friends who drink and alcohol-friendly environments, such as bars, parties, and some social events. You might feel pressured to drink, especially if others know you may not be committed to total abstinence. Instead, spending time on sober-friendly activities can increase your confidence and motivation to curb your alcohol use so it doesn’t control you.
  5. Recognize and mindfully put aside cravings: Even individuals who are not alcohol-dependent can experience cravings occasionally. Find strategies to identify urges and allow them to come and go without judgment. Your goal is to overcome the impulse to drink and turn your attention to a healthier alternative. Over time, cravings are likely to subside and even disappear entirely.

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Getting Comprehensive Treatment for Alcohol Misuse

The sober curious movement is a new way to explore and change your relationship with alcohol. Being sober curious means improving your awareness of your drinking habits and engaging in positive experiences while sober. When used consistently and correctly, this approach can have a positive impact on your physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.

Contact us today if you are struggling to curb your drinking and want to learn what your life could be like without alcohol. You can speak with an experienced Treatment Advisor for a free, no-obligation assessment and health insurance benefits check. Learn more about our effective treatment programs and various levels of care and how we can help you with the skills you need to sustain long-lasting sobriety.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

(1)https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics (2)https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2647079 (3)https://www.apa.org/research/action/speaking-of-psychology/sober-curious utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=apa-podcast-sop&utm_content=ep101-sober-curious (4)https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/americans-are-binge-drinking-more-greatly-increasing-health-risks-n1117036 (5)https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/14_0329.htm (6)https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/substance-use-and-mental-health (7)https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm (8)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441882/ (9)https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/5/e020673 (10)https://www.apa.org/news/podcasts/speaking-of-psychology/sober-curious

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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