The boozy holidays are over and dry January has come and gone … now what?
Perhaps the relief of not waking up with a hangover, or the extra dollars saved by not spending it on alcohol is what motivates people to cut back on alcohol, but whatever the reason, the “sober curious” movement is catching on. The concept takes a holistic approach to health and more than just one month of staying dry.
Being “sober curious” or “sober sometimes” is an awareness of how alcohol plays into one’s overall health and well-being. Unlike Dry January, in which people take one month off from drinking, those who cut back or give up alcohol entirely commit to exploring the deeper meaning behind one’s drinking. The goal is improving their overall physical and mental health, not just decrease their drinking.
It also creates a safe space for people looking to socialize with their friends without having to drink alcohol. No longer do nondrinkers have to feel apologetic to their friends about skipping a round of shots.
After all, people should be concerned about how alcohol relates to their health. It kills more people per year, shockingly even more than opioids. The number of alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. among people aged 16 and older doubled from 35,914 in 1999 to 72,558 in 2017, according to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics. In San Diego County alone, 422 people deaths in 2017 were alcohol-related, according to the County of San Diego Health and Human Services.
Americans are drinking more – just over 2 gallons per year on average – and the harmful consequences from alcohol aren’t slowing down.
Given that San Diego is considered one of the healthiest cities in the U.S., it is surprisingly also one of the ‘booziest.’ On average, San Diegans spent $1,112 on alcohol in 2017, a 30% increase from 2016.
With hundreds of gyms, yoga and pilates studios, juice bars, farmers’ markets, a growing farm-to-table movement, 70 miles of coastline and hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails within the county’s 4,261 square miles, San Diegans have ample opportunity to enjoy a healthy and fit lifestyle.
A recently-opened gym in La Jolla caters to this healthy mindset, but what makes it unique – and somewhat paradoxical – is that alongside its menu of superfoods, salads and smoothies is alcohol – the third leading cause of cancer.
The blurred line between alcohol and health is exasperated by conflicting reports. Is red wine actually good for your heart? Will a swig of alcohol during pregnancy really harm the baby? Even health-oriented events are sending mixed messages, from beer gardens at marathon and half-marathon events to yoga at wine events.
And so the sober curious movement is helping people feel confident about reaching for a “mocktail,” an equally crafty and delicious nonalcoholic drink, especially in social situations. Bartenders, for one, around the county are helping bar customers embrace – and enjoy – an alcohol-free lifestyle by offering nondrinkers more than just water or soda.
“A mocktail is the perfect way to ease the pressure off drinking alcohol when you’re at a bar hanging out with friends,” said Fredman Martinez, a bartender at Yanni’s in Scripps Ranch.
Social media and meetup groups are also embracing the movement. A recent search on Instagram with #sobercurious and #sobercuriousmovement unveils many communities dedicated to enjoying life with little to no alcohol.
The sober curious movement is not just for those in recovery. Anyone who questions their relationship with alcohol -from light to moderate to binge drinking – can find comfort that it is becoming more socially acceptable to not drink alcohol. It is absolutely a lifestyle choice, not a trendy flash-in-the-pan movement, based on clean, healthy living.