“Sober-curious” means being more mindful about when — and whether — you choose to drink alcohol. (Graphic: Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Life / Getty Images)
If you’ve been thinking about cutting back on alcohol — or breaking up with booze altogether — you’re not alone. In fact, there’s a growing “sober-curious” movement, which encourages people to rethink their drinking habits.
Being sober-curious is something that goes well beyond Dry January — which is typically a month long and often serves as a reset after a booze-filled holiday season. Advocates say being sober-curious is ultimately about changing your relationship with alcohol long-term and being more mindful about when — and whether — you choose to drink.
So what, exactly, does sober-curious mean?
“Sober-curious” is a term author Ruby Warrington says she coined “to describe my own uneasy relationship with booze,” she shares in a statement provided to Yahoo Life. “After many years of privately questioning my drinking, I began speaking openly about my conflicted feelings about alcohol (with friends and family and also at sober-curious themed events I began to organize) in 2015.”
Warrington realized that “a lot of people felt the same way as me — like they knew alcohol could be problematic for them, but didn’t see themselves as alcoholics — but were either afraid to talk about it, or didn’t have an outlet for an open discussion about the problems even ‘normal’ drinkers experience.”
In 2018, Warrington published a book about it, called Sober Curious, encouraging people to change their relationship with alcohol and “stop drinking on autopilot.”
Rather than having to declare yourself a non-drinker, sober-curious can be a permanent state in which you still drink on rare occasions.” — Millie Gooch, founder of Sober Girl Society
Millie Gooch, founder of the U.K.-based Sober Girl Society and author of the Sober Girl Society Handbook, tells Yahoo Life that the term sober-curious “has come to define the emerging mindful-drinking movement.” But she adds that the actual explanation of what sober-curiosity means has become “a little confused.”
“While some people take it to mean being curious about becoming a full-time non-drinker, Ruby herself describes it as questioning everything about your relationship with alcohol including the way that we, as a society, view and consume it,” Gooch explains. “Rather than having to declare yourself a non-drinker, sober-curious can be a permanent state in which you still drink on rare occasions, but generally become more aware of the motivations behind your drinking and aim to change your relationship with alcohol in a much more positive way.”
For Heather Molnar, a member of the operations team at Moderation Management, which is a volunteer-run organization helping people address their own drinking challenges, sober-curiosity is about “becoming aware of the role alcohol plays in your life” and not relying on it as a “crutch.”
For example, “a sober curious person may continue going to brunch but skip the mimosas,” Molnar, who is also the administrator of Moderation Management’s private Facebook page, which has 4,300 members, tells Yahoo Life. “A sober curious …….