Many adults’ social lives revolve around alcohol, from attending significant events like weddings and birthday parties to participating in sporting and networking events. After attending multiple alcohol-filled parties and celebrations, some people end up feeling like they need to take a break from drinking.
Following so many hangovers, you might begin to question the need for alcohol in your life. You start realizing that you don’t like alcohol that much, and you even wonder why you drink at all. At such a point, people begin to think that giving up on alcohol might positively impact their well-being. Such feelings attract sober curiosity. Read on to learn more.
What Does Sober Curiosity Mean?
Sober curiosity means having the urge to experiment with leading a sober life or changing your drinking habits. Sober curious individuals are not necessarily addicts but alcohol users who want to abstain from drinking to experience the positive effects this can bring on their lives.
Note that there is a significant difference between a sober life and sober curiosity. Sobriety is a lifestyle where one chooses to abstain from alcohol after struggling with addiction. Being sober curious doesn’t mean that you completely abstain from alcohol but just an idea of cutting alcohol for some time, to know how leading a sober lifestyle would feel. After this, you might start drinking again, abstain entirely, or get back to occasional drinking with a better attitude.
The main focus is on curiosity. You want to self-examine to know what fuels your desire to drink and the way alcohol affects you. People who want to try out the sober curiosity lifestyle should try abstaining from alcohol for about 100 days to feel the benefits.
The Origin of Sober Curiosity
Although alcohol might not pose a problem to everyone, excessive consumption isn’t that good for you. Sober curiosity isn’t a new thing, and there have been various movements that emphasize the importance of sobriety.
Sober October is a fundraising challenge that began in 2014 to support people living with cancer. The rule of this challenge is that you dedicate 14, 21, or 31 days to take a closer look at the impacts of alcohol in your life. The main aim of this movement is to help people work toward alcohol moderation.
Dry January is another popular campaign that began in 2013, whose primary purpose is to encourage people to lead an alcohol-free month. This movement has gained vast popularity, and in fact, 15% of Americans planned to forego alcohol for the first month of 2021. This shows that people have been sober curious for a long time.
The term came into light through an author, Ruby Warrington, after she released a book, “Sober Curious,” in 2018. The book describes various drinking patterns familiar to many. Some people try to drink more than others in their cycle or have a drink even when they don’t crave it. Others use alcohol since it doesn’t seem to hurt anyone else. The author’s main aim is to invite people to get sober curious and realize that there are other ways to experience fun rather than with alcohol.
Why People Get Sober Curious
The culture of drinking alcohol at events makes it difficult for people to turn down a drink. As a result, there is a large number of people who use high amounts of alcohol and are still not clinically considered alcohol dependent, also known as high-functioning drinkers. Such people will sometimes experience decreased functionality, work or school disruption, or extreme hangovers. These adverse effects of heavy drinking, or binge drinking, can push someone to realize that they would be better off without alcohol. They have the urge to try out a sober lifestyle.
Other times, you might notice that you are relying on alcohol a little bit more than usual, or you realize that you need to work on your skills without alcohol influence. People who have addicts at home are usually more cautious with alcohol. They drink carefully to avoid falling into the same trap as their loved ones.
Some people don’t have a definite reason for sober curiosity; they only want to figure out how it feels at the end of a sober period. Society is also becoming more health-conscious. People have begun realizing that consumption of alcohol can still lead to adverse effects such as:
- Dehydration: Alcohol causes your body to remove water from your blood into the kidneys faster than usual. If you fail to drink enough fluids, you are more likely to get dehydrated. The intoxicating effects of alcohol may impede your judgment, so you are less likely to feel the dehydration effects until it’s too late.
- Poor sleep: Alcohol consumption also leads to sleep disruptions and decreased sleep quality. You will begin to notice that you wake up after a few hours, and you find it difficult to go back to sleep. As the liver metabolizes alcohol, it speeds up other body processes, decreasing the ability to achieve deep sleep.
- Increased cancer risks: The rate of throat, stomach, and colon cancer is very high for long-term alcoholics. Any person who consumes alcohol for an extended period is at a risk of developing cancer. The human body breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde, which destroys DNA cells. They begin to grow out of control, developing cancer tumors.
- Weight gain: Alcohol is an appetite stimulant that is also high in calories. You are more likely to feel hungry when you drink alcohol, and it impairs your judgment, so you make wrong dietary choices. Alcohol also affects your body’s ability to burn fat.
What to Do When You Are Sober Curious
Once you begin to experience sober-curious thoughts, you need to embrace them, rethink your habit, and opt for lower consumption. Focus more on what you will gain after the short-term sobriety instead of what you lose. For instance, instead of thinking that you will miss out on fun with friends, think of the benefits to come along with sobriety.
Abstaining from alcohol, even for a short while, involves making different choices on how you spend your time. You, therefore, need to create a plan. Watch your patterns to know when you tend to consume alcohol more to establish self-awareness around such periods. If going out with your friends or late-night dates makes you drink more, you need to determine how to navigate such situations.
Once you identify what motivates you to drink, try finding alternatives to alcohol. As more people continually opt for a sober lifestyle, various sober bars that offer non-alcoholic drinks have emerged. You will even realize that, sometimes, you only need water to quench your thirst.
If it’s pretty challenging to resist alcohol temptation when you are around bars, you can choose to meet with friends in other fun places like a coffee shop, museum, or bookstore. Those with persuasive friends should try holding most meetings on Zoom to avoid explaining to each person about their plans to reduce alcohol intake. If you must, open up your social circle to a few friends and try out activities like cycling, hiking, or camping rather than clubbing.
When you know that you will attend social gatherings that involve alcohol, prepare yourself in advance. You can carry your non-alcoholic drink and leave earlier to avoid temptations. Prepare your responses in time, stick to your decision, and don’t allow other people to dictate what you drink.
Once you choose to stay alcohol-free, you need to connect with like-minded people for support and accountability. Keep in mind that it isn’t always easy to turn down alcohol in the company of others who are drinking. Yet, when you have a friend who is also exploring sober curiosity, you don’t have to keep explaining yourself. You can even try linking up with people practicing sobriety who have finished an inpatient treatment program from a rehab facility.
Be aware that you might find yourself with more time than usual after quitting alcohol. If you don’t manage your time appropriately, you might find yourself slipping back into drinking. Dedicate more time to self-care and other satisfying hobbies to keep yourself busy. Some activities that you can try out to maintain a sober-curious lifestyle include joining fitness sessions, reading books, meditating, and exploring nearby parks.
If you aren’t sure about giving up on alcohol entirely, consider moderation. This way, you will reduce the effects associated with alcohol use. Keep in mind that alcoholism is a very complex issue. For casual drinkers, it’s easier to identify fun alternatives that reduce exposure to alcoholic drinks. However, for people struggling with addiction, sobriety is a very demanding lifelong process, so you wouldn’t want to find yourself in such a situation.
Moderation won’t work for everyone. For some people, you should cut out alcohol completely. Try to know your limits, and if your reactions to missing a drink are agitation or frustration, this indicates the onset of a drinking problem. At such a point, you need to seek immediate professional help before the issues get out of hand.
You can go for medical detoxification and enroll in a program. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.
Our institution creates safe spaces for people to heal and find hope amidst the struggle to stay sober. Our detoxification program involves flushing out the toxins from the body to prepare a person for therapy. Medical experts will also help you manage the side effects associated with detoxing.
On the other hand, Granite Recovery Centers’ aftercare program involves residing in sober living facilities. Such facilities help create a smooth transition for patients who have just completed the residential drug rehab into everyday life. You will still participate in the 12 steps meetings, group therapy, meditation, chores, and case management to promote lifelong sobriety.
Benefits of Taking a Break From Alcohol
Sober curiosity changes the culture surrounding alcohol. This proves that people can have a great time without getting drunk. There are various benefits associated with reduced alcohol consumption. Keep in mind that alcohol impairs communication between your brain neurons, resulting in short-term memory loss. You will, thus, experience improved memory function after quitting alcohol.
Abstaining from alcohol will save you the hassle of dealing with hangovers. This will also help prevent addiction. Anyone who drinks is at risk of developing alcoholism, and it becomes difficult to stop drinking alcohol, despite the negative consequences. While some people like to pinpoint the benefits derived from drinking lower amounts of alcohol, you will realize that you can get the same effects from grape juice.
When you adopt a sober curiosity lifestyle, you will enjoy improved health and overall well-being. You will also see improved mental health. Alcohol increases the serotonin level in your body, creating some temporary feelings of happiness. After some time, the serotonin levels return to normal, which creates a shift in the mood, leading to depression. A sober curious life will help stabilizes serotonin levels to protect your mental health.
Limiting alcohol consumption also improves liver health and lowers blood pressure and heart rate. This will also boost your immune system. Time spent away from drinking makes it easier to refrain from alcohol entirely. If you keep pushing through moments of temptation, it becomes less appealing to go back into taking a drink. Enjoying sober experiences will also protect your finances. You will end up with some extra money that you can channel to investments.
When you are sober curious, you begin to question your drinking habits. If you get honest with your answers to such questions, it makes less sense to drink alcohol. Sober curiosity also promotes mindful drinking, which will eventually make room for a lasting lifestyle change.
If you need professional support, you can always reach out to us at Granite Recovery Centers. Our institution aims to transform the lives of alcoholics and people struggling with substance use disorder through various treatment programs.
You can begin with an inpatient program where you live within the facility to receive intensive monitored support. Our facility also offers an outpatient program to provide continued care for people who have just left the residential treatment program. You stay at home and only attend meetings five days a week for agreed-upon hours. The treatment within the facility involves medical detoxification, sober living options, and individual and group therapies.