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Anxiety, Stress & Coping
April 24, 2024
Beyond Happy Hour: The Sober Curious Approach to Living Well

Olivia Vander Vloet

Four drinks on top of a brown table; two of them are in tall glasses and orange, two are short glasses and clear

Shifting Perspectives: The Rise of Sober Curiosity

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Understanding Sober Curiosity

Have you noticed people around you drinking less? Does it seem like there’s more and more non-alcoholic beer and wine at the grocery store while you’re shopping? Have you heard people talking about how Gen Z seems to be less interested in alcohol than other generations? Well, a lot of this could be attributed to the rise of the Sober Curious movement. The term Sober Curious was coined in 2018 by Ruby Warrington an author and editor who wrote the book Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol and The Sober Curious Reset as well as a podcast titled Sober Curious. This book aims to challenge, question, and explore “the myths that keep us drinking”.

In recent years it appears that the Sober Curious movement has been on the rise. That may not be entirely true as it has existed in some form for a long time with challenges like Dry January and Sober October. Rather, the movement has picked up more visibility as a result of social media and generational drinking trends. shows that Generation Z seems to be the generation that drinks the least right now with 20% fewer Gen Zers drinking than Millennials did at their age. Gen Z also spent 40% less money on alcohol compared to their Millennial counterparts. Millennials are also drinking less than the generations which came before them with 53% of Millennials reporting drinking alcohol in the past month followed by 65% of Gen Xers, and 72% of Baby Boomers. This decrease in alcohol use has also seemed to open up interest in non-alcoholic options such as 0% beers, wine, and mocktails. The availability of well made non-alcoholic options resulted in a 20% increase in non-alcoholic beer and wine sales at from 2021-2022.

Exploring the Sober Curious Lifestyle

The Sober Curious movement is not the same as being sober, though some people who have been Sober Curious do choose to be sober. Sobriety consists of making the choice not to consume alcohol on any occasion because of health concerns, religious beliefs, or addiction. Being Sober Curious means that you are curious about the role of alcohol in your life, reflecting on and questioning why, when, and how our drinking habits have impacted us and the society we live in. Again, this can be for a variety of reasons such as physical and mental health concerns, relationship impacts, or other wellness goals. Like many things in our world, sober curiosity exists on a spectrum starting with the questioning of our relationship with alcohol, mindful drinking, moderated drinking, taking breaks from alcohol for short or long periods of time, and potentially even abstinence from alcohol. Being Sober Curious also does not have to be a permanent decision or change. Here are some ways in which sober curiosity, mindful drinking, moderated drinking, and abstinence differ:

  • Sober Curious
  • Mindful Drinking
  • Moderated Drinking
  • Abstinence from Alcohol


  • A conscious exploration of a life without or with reduced alcohol consumption.
  • Being present and intentional with alcohol consumption.
  • Drinking according to the Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines or other drinking goals set by the person and their therapist/supports.
  • Avoiding the consumption of alcohol all together.


  • Questioning societal norms around drinking and challenging personal habits.
  • An emphasis on the quality of the drinking experience rather than the quantity.
  • Tracking the quantity, pace, and alcohol content of the drinking.
  • Eliminating alcohol use.


  • Increased self-awareness, improved health, and a reassessment of the relationship with alcohol without committing to complete abstinence.
  • Moderation in alcohol consumption, savouring the moment, and fostering a healthier relationship with alcohol.
  • Reducing the amount of alcohol consumed and the associated health risks.
  • Eliminated alcohol use, improved health, avoiding risky behaviours and their potential consequences.

Benefits of Being Sober Curious

Having a sober curious mindset can benefit us in a variety of ways including our health, relationships, and general outlook on life. Here are some more examples:

  • Improved Sleep: Because alcohol disrupts our sleeping habits, limiting our alcohol use can lead to better sleep quality and rest.
  • Enhanced Mental Clarity: Alcohol use can impair our cognitive functioning and inhibitions; limiting alcohol consumption allows us to make better decisions and focus.
  • Improved digestive health: Alcohol can irritate our digestive tract; limiting our alcohol use can help us avoid problems like acid reflux.
  • Improved mood: While alcohol use and hangovers can worsen feelings of anxiety and sadness, reducing alcohol use can lead to more stable moods.
  • Better physical fitness: Alcohol consumption can actually slow muscle recovery after exercise; by limiting our alcohol consumption, we can increase our muscular repair and physical fitness.
  • Reducing health risks: Alcohol consumption can increase your risk of developing liver disease, heart problems, stroke, and certain malignancies. Reducing your alcohol consumption can help lower your risk of acquiring certain health problems.
  • Improved relationships: When people stop their alcohol consumption, they often recognize that some of their relationships were centered on drinking. Removing alcohol from the relationship can help to foster healthier connections.

Tips for Exploring and Embracing Sober Curiosity

At this point you’re probably wondering how you might decide if the Sober Curious movement is right for you and if it is, how to get started. Here are some helpful questions to get you thinking about your current relationship with alcohol:

  • When and where do I drink?
  • Who do I drink with?
  • Do I drink more than I want to in certain places, at specific times, or with certain people?
  • How does drinking make me feel? How do I feel the next day?
  • What impact is drinking having on the rest of my life?

After you’ve done some reflection you might decide to start living a little more sober curiously, here are some strategies to get you started:

  • Mindful Drinking: Instead of autopilot sipping, try savouring each sip. Pay attention to the flavours and how your body responds.
  • Alcohol-Free Social Spaces: Create or seek out events where the focus isn’t on booze. It could be a game night, a hike, or a coffee shop hangout.
  • Experiment with Alternatives: Test out non-alcoholic beverages and get creative with mocktails. There are tons of tasty options beyond the usual suspects.
  • Self-Care Rituals: Replace drinking-related rituals with self-care practices. Whether it’s a bath, meditation, or a good book, find what nourishes you.
  • Mindful Pauses: Take intentional breaks from alcohol. This could be a week, a month, or longer – whatever feels right for you.
  • Community Connection: Join online groups or local meet-ups with like-minded individuals exploring a sober curious lifestyle. Shared experiences can be super empowering.
  • Reflect and Learn: Regularly check in with yourself. How do you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally? Learn from your experiences to continually refine your approach to sober curiosity.

Where Can I Learn More?

If you’re interested in learning more about the Sober Curious movement or how to get more involved here are some resources:


  • Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol by Ruby Warrington
  • The Sober Curious Reset: A workbook & Self-study program by Ruby Warrington
  • Sober Curious Drinks: Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Recipes That Are Easy to Make, Taste Delicious, and Won’t Leave You Feeling Hungover by Stella Rose Wilder
  • The Benefits of Sobriety: Get Curious About Drinking Less and Living More by Justin Delarosa


As we wrap up this exploration into the Sober Curious movement, it’s evident that this lifestyle shift is more than just a passing trend—it’s a mindful approach to living that’s gaining traction in response to changing societal norms and personal well-being priorities. Whether you choose to dip your toes into mindful drinking, take a break from alcohol, or fully embrace a sober curious mindset, the benefits extend far beyond physical health. From improved sleep and mental clarity to fostering healthier relationships and a more positive outlook on life, the advantages are diverse and impactful. As you reflect on your own relationship with alcohol and consider the possibilities, remember that the Sober Curious journey is uniquely yours, filled with self-discovery, intentional choices, and a community of like-minded individuals. Whether you’re just starting or deep into your sober curiosity, this movement invites you to explore, question, and ultimately, live a more conscious and connected life.


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