Because of alcohol’s prevalence in the world around you, it can be hard to imagine your life without it. That’s where the Sober Curious Movement comes in. The Sober Curious Movement has helped people all over the country take a serious look at their relationship with alcohol and ask themselves if it requires some change.
What Is Sober Curiosity?
Alcohol can have a massive impact on your life, whether it’s your drinking or someone else’s that is the problem—but the Sober Curious Movement focuses on your own drinking. The term “sober curiosity” is as simple as it sounds— wondering what your life would look like if you had a different relationship with alcohol.
The Sober Curious Movement helps people who may be concerned they have a negative relationship with alcohol examine their habits. By abstaining from alcohol consumption for a set period, Sober Curious participants work to see if this sort of “reset” could create a healthier relationship with alcohol and improve physical, mental, and emotional health.
When Did the Sober Curious Movement Begin?
Being “sober curious” isn’t necessarily a new idea, as many people have thought about what their life would be like if they didn’t drink. For a long period of time, total abstinence over the long term was seen as one of the only options for adjusting a problematic relationship with alcohol. The idea was popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous, which started decades ago in the mid 20th century. AA was one of the first institutions to help people struggling with alcohol and is still one of the most widely known and used methods of combating alcoholism today.
A few decades after AA was founded, more approaches to addressing the societal relationship with alcohol began to appear. A popular method of dealing with the relationship between people and alcohol or other substances is known as harm reduction. This method emerged in the late 1970s and aims to help people who are using substances but may be curious about sobriety or looking to help themselves.
The goal of harm reduction is in the name—to reduce harm in a scenario, like drinking alcohol, that can be dangerous to you or others. The concept of harm reduction recognizes that many people are unable to simply quit consuming a substance on command, especially forever. Instead, harm reduction aims to help people stay safe as they continue, reduce, or experiment with halting their consumption. For other substances, harm reduction can look like handing out fentanyl test strips to help avoid overdoses or keeping an opioid prevention kit in the house.
What Are the Goals and Benefits of the Sober Curious Movement?
The Sober Curious Movement strives to get people to evaluate the role alcohol plays in their lives so they can better understand its overall impact. There are many goals and the benefits that can come along with sober curiosity.
Helps People Feel Connected
Many people asking themselves questions about alcohol don’t realize that other people are also doing the same. The Sober Curious Movement has introduced a new aspect of comradery in the world of sobriety, a community which was heavily focused on either abstinence or harm reduction previously. Now, people across the country can connect through their similar experiences, feelings, and questions about alcohol. Sober curiosity has shown that sobriety and however you may approach it don’t have to be off-limits topics.
Helps You Reevaluate Your Relationship With Alcohol
The primary goal of the Sober Curious Movement is to help you reevaluate your relationship with alcohol. This doesn’t mean that your relationship with alcohol is automatically deemed bad or negative. It just means that you’re ready to ask a question that unfortunately isn’t asked enough—how does alcohol affect you? If you’re curious about how alcohol affects the brain, you’re already more sober curious than you might think.
Inspires Healthy Change in Your Life
The Sober Curious Movement wants to inspire healthy change in your life where you see fit. Whether that means cutting down on your drinking each session, limiting your drinking to a certain day of the week, or taking time to research the different health impacts of drinking, your efforts fit in with the movement. One of the overall goals of the Sober Curious Movement is simply to get you inspired to make change that makes you feel better.
You’ll Complete More Activities without Alcohol
Another goal of sober curiosity is to motivate people to try doing more activities without alcohol. This can be applied to small social events like a family gathering or even at a party with friends. Many people find that, far too often, alcohol is the center of all the events in their lives, causing people to lose focus on other important aspects of getting together. By hanging out in social settings without alcohol, even if for a brief period of your life, you can learn more about your feelings regarding alcohol and the impact leaving it behind can have.
How You Know If Being Sober Curious Is Right for You
Being sober curious can look different for everyone who tries it. Regardless, it can be hard to know if you want to be sober curious or if you’re already at that point. Here are some signs that joining the Sober Curious Movement might be right for you.
You’re Only a Social Drinker
Do you only drink in social settings when you go out with your friends and family? So many people only drink alcohol because it’s become almost ubiquitous at functions, not necessarily because they desire its effects. If you’re a social drinker only, you may be interested in becoming sober curious.
Being sober curious helps you to look at your relationship with alcohol and whether it’s helping or hindering you. However, it doesn’t mean that you must stop drinking altogether. In fact, becoming sober curious can take a variety of forms. For example, next time you go out with your friends, try staying sober just to see if there’s a difference in your mood at the end of the evening. Instead of beginning a prolonged period of abstinence, think of sober curiosity as comparing your options and their health and mood effects.
You Have Asked Yourself if You Even Like Alcohol
Is alcohol something that rarely crosses your mind? Do you often find yourself drinking only because it’s there in front of you? Whether you’ve had a string of bad hangovers, or you simply can’t decide whether the effects of alcohol are all that enjoyable for you, many people have found themselves asking if they even like alcohol in the first place.
This question isn’t as uncommon as it may seem. Because of alcohol’s prevalence in our lives, it can be more than difficult to differentiate whether you genuinely like alcohol or simply partake because it’s been around you for so long.
You Have Wondered About the Health Effects of Alcohol
If you wonder or worry about the long-term effects of consuming alcohol may have on you, you are already on your way to being sober curious. Do you wonder if you’re addicted to alcohol? Again, being sober curious does not mean that you need to stop drinking long-term. It just helps you see how prevalent alcohol is, begin to assess the role it plays in your life, and decide if that role needs a change to inspire positive health effects.
The Sober Curious Movement and Recovery
The Sober Curious Movement helps people reevaluate their alcohol use and inspires healthy change within it. Even if you do not consider yourself an alcoholic, or if you’re unsure whether alcohol poses a problem for you, your alcohol use can play an enormous role in your life. Re-assessing your relationship with alcohol can help you better understand its true impact on you.
If you’re struggling with an alcohol problem, know that you aren’t alone. Sometimes abuse turns into addiction and simply quitting on your own is no longer an option. If that’s the case for you, please reach out to us for help.
Having been on both sides of active addition, both the person using, and the person affected by a loved one using drugs and alcohol, Lucas has been involved in recovery since 2009. He has been working in the treatment industry since 2013. Using his personal experience and wealth of knowledge learned from professional development and immersion in the recovery field, he has spoken with thousands of families and helped hundreds of people attain long-term sobriety. In 2020, the opportunity presented to join in and start Illuminate Recovery. Understanding the importance of personalized treatment plans and the complex nature between substance abuse and co-occurring disorders, has helped Illuminate Recovery build a strong curriculum and a phenomenal staff. Illuminate Recovery now has a medical doctor who is board certified in addiction medicine and a psychiatric medical doctor who works side by side with independently licensed therapists to provide compassionate and effective treatment.