Sober Curious –– What’s everyone talking about?

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Melissa Renae
Melissa Renae
Melissa is a single mom, and God-girl, raised in the South by her Bahamian family; a registered dietitian of over 16 years and a food, health, and nutrition writer. She is a beach-loving, pink-thinking, sparkling-water enthusiast, living and exploring Florida life with her son. She believes food and nutrition are just as much about culture, comfort, and joy as they are about health. She strives to create fun, relatable, culturally inclusive content to help her readers take a deep breath, feel seen and make sense of the food around them.
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Exploring Sober Curiosity and the Rise of Mindful Drinking

More and more people have been walking away from alcohol, and not just for “Dry January” or “Sober October”. Sober curiosity is on the rise. A survey done by NCSolutions found that 41% of Americans are looking to drink less in 2024, up from the 34% they found in 2023. “Mocktails” have been around for a while but are becoming increasingly popular. 

What is Sober Curious? 

Sober curiosity is about taking an introspective look at your drinking habits. It is a change in thought moving towards total sobriety.

What is Mindful Drinking? 

Mindful drinking is all about YOUR ‘why’ behind what you choose to consume and when. You may not decide to quit alcohol altogether, but taking time to think about your reasons for ordering that cocktail and how you feel during or the next day, may help you cut back or at least be intentional and more in control of your alcohol consumption. 

Manufacturers and businesses are taking note of this trend. More and more options for non-drinkers are becoming available. There are now non-alcoholic bars and more alcohol-free wine, spirits, and beer on the market. 

But why? 

The traditional reasons for not drinking usually surround religion, pregnancy, and trying to prevent or manage an addiction. Some grew up with alcohol of any kind being taboo and they may have gotten into drinking to fit in socially or as an act of rebellion from their upbringing (momma, I’m grown!).  For others, alcohol is next to mother’s milk. It’s a part of their culture and upbringing, for better or worse. 

Drinking alcohol is a big deal in American culture — Turning 21 and legally being able to drink alcohol is often seen as a rite of passage into adulthood. Most social events revolve around drinking, and despite the growing sober trend, many still feel judged or singled out for not drinking. But now, the choice to not drink is more about a positive and personal lifestyle choice than about judgment, restriction or sacrifice. 

People are becoming more confident in choosing sobriety to improve mental health and physical health to save coins (Americans report spending an average of over $1200/ year on alcohol). 

What happens when you quit alcohol?

As much as I hate to make any food or drink out to be a bad guy, it’s no secret that overdoing it on alcohol can have some pretty damaging effects, both physically, mentally and socially. So what are the benefits of quitting? Is it really that big of a deal? 

Short-term benefits

  1. Better sleep
  2. Weight loss
  3. Decreased anxiety and depression

Long-term benefits

  1. Reduced inflammation
  2. Lowered risk of heart disease
  3. Diminished risk of cancer
  4. Reduced risk of liver disease
  5. Improved immunity

What’s new? 

Here’s the good news: being sober no longer means you’re restricted to just water, soda or O’Douls when you want a nightcap or are out and about. 

I decided to see what all the fuss was about and took some friends to do a little exploring at a local alcohol-free bar. While my wallet didn’t notice a difference, I was able to hang out with friends, enjoy some yummy drinks, not worry about anyone getting home, or needing to plan for some recovery time the next day (I don’t bounce back like I used to), and I actually remember the evening. These mocktails are more than fancy and expensive juice. They are deliciously crafted blends, and some even have medicinal purposes.

I have also noticed expanding mocktail menus at other restaurants and an expanding non-alcoholic beer section in the grocery store. Some popular brands, including Blue Moon, Corona, and Sam Adams have non-alcoholic versions of their classic flavors. Not to mention some new guys on the market like Athletic Brewery, (I had samples of this after a trail race and I can vouch that it hits just as hard as an ice-cold Blue Moon or whatever your favorite beer is).

If you’re interested in seeing more non-alcoholic options for tequila and whiskey, check out Spiritless.

Sober curious - shelf full of non-alcoholic beer at a retail store

What do you think? 

“Dry January” is over. Did you participate or were you still thinking about it? Has your sober curiosity peaked? Maybe you will decide you’re good as is, you’ll participate in “Sober October,” or maybe you’re ready to start slowing down now.

Whatever you decide is best for you, be intentional about your decision and make sure you’re doing it for you! 

Here’s a fun mocktail recipe to sip on while you think about it!

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