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7 Tips for the Sober Curious

By Janet Gourand April 19, 2023 Health and Fitness

Society has created such a stigma around being an “alcoholic” that we have an image of a homeless man sitting on a park bench when we hear that word. As a result of this stereotype many people who are drinking too much are able to reassure themselves that they are fine as they are still fully functional.

After all, they don’t drink in the mornings!

The societal norms around drinking have made it so that people who decide to quit are subject to questions and (ironically) inferences that they must have a “problem” if they are not drinking.

However, the good news is that there is a cultural shift going on as more and more people explore an alcohol-free lifestyle.

The Sober Curious Movement

The Sober Curious movement is a growing trend that emphasizes mindfulness and self-discovery. It fits right in with the modern focus on wellness. After all what is the point of eating organic, doing yoga, exercising daily and buying expensive beauty products if we are going to drink a toxin which will undo all the benefits!

Author Ruby Warrington coined the phrase “sober curious” in her book of the same title. As someone with seven years of sobriety, I can vouch for her inspiring subtitle: “The Blissful Sleep, Great Focus, Limitless Presence and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol.”

Interestingly, the sober curious movement is characterized by people who don’t necessarily have a “problem.” They are simply questioning the marketing messages and the societal pressure to drink alcohol at every occasion – from a christening to a wedding to a funeral. The sober curious set are often ex-party girls and boys just looking for a healthier lifestyle.

They are simply wondering what their life would look like without alcohol in it.

This movement is also good news for those of us who have become dependent on alcohol. There is now a great answer for those annoying people who are always asking questions that infer that you are an “alcoholic” because you don’t drink.

We can just say:

“I’m sober curious so I’m taking a break for a while – I’ll let you know how it goes!”

What to Drink When You Don’t Drink!

Along with sober curiosity we’ve seen a significant growth in the alcohol-free drinks industry as more and more people become aware of the harmful effects of alcohol on our health.

Wherever you live in the world, you will find some delicious choices. No longer do nondrinkers have to be happy with a coke or a glass of water. The vast range of alcohol-free alternatives make it so much easier to socialize without alcohol and when we get that 6pm urge to open a bottle of wine we can just open a bottle of alcohol-free wine instead.

The sober curious movement has inspired many people to take a break from alcohol with a view to living a mindful, intentional and alcohol-free life.

7 Tips for the Sober Curious

Make a Why List

You may start your Sober Curious period with great enthusiasm, but your motivation may waver after a while. That’s why you need a Why list. For example, are you taking a break from the booze to improve your health, to be more productive, to get fitter or to improve your relationships? Keep a sober curious journal and write your why list on the front cover.

Educate Yourself

Once you discover the harm alcohol does to the body and brain, your desire to drink will diminish. Read Alcohol Explained by William Porter or Bamboozled by Ken Middleton. There are plenty of QuitLit memoirs out there as well as podcasts featuring experts and inspiring recovery stories. Tribe Sober has a weekly podcast available on Apple or Spotify.

Discover Alternatives

There are plenty of fun activities that don’t involve alcohol. Instead of opening the wine at 6pm put on your headphones and go for a long walk instead. Discover some new interests and learn something new. Look at meetup.com for ideas about hobbies and udemy.com for hundreds of low-cost courses.

Find a Support Network

Tell your friends and your family that you are sober curious and will be taking a break from alcohol for a while. Tell them you will need their support and they are less likely to try to convince you to have “just one.” Find a friend to be your sober buddy or join a sobriety group like Tribe Sober who will connect you with others on the same path.

Try Yoga and Meditation

A break from alcohol is an excellent opportunity to try yoga and meditation. Sobriety enables us to connect with ourselves and to be fully present in the moment. If you haven’t tried yoga before, then there are plenty of free videos and you can download meditation apps on your phone such as Calm and Headspace.

Take It One Day at a Time

Remember, you are just curious! So don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Sobriety is a journey, and it’s about progress not perfection. If you have a slip up, then don’t beat yourself up – just start again the next day. Note the benefits you are experiencing in your journal and find other ways to treat yourself.

Review Your Progress

So how did your life feel without alcohol? Many people enjoy the clarity of thought and the extra energy that comes with sobriety and decide to keep it going. Taking a break is a great way to test your dependence on alcohol. If you found it really difficult to do this alone then join a group and try an alcohol-free challenge like the 30-Day Sober Jumpstart.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you sober curious? Do you take regular breaks from alcohol? Do you hate the thought of losing your nightly glass(es) of wine? Have you noticed that the young people in your life drink less than our generation did at their age?

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Barbara

Excellent article. There are many wonderful online sites to help. I know I was drowning in my grief when my husband was ill and died.

janet gourand

Hi Barbara – so sorry to hear about your husband, it must be so tempting to isolate and drink alcohol to cope with your grief. Well done for getting some help and yes you are right there are many online sites to help – we don’t all have to go to AA these days ;-)

Denise

I quit drinking when I found out through an MRI that I had higher than usual brain atrophy. I was not an alcoholic, so it was not hard to quit. It was much harder for my husband and my friends to accept! Our society is so focused on alcohol at every occasion. Now my desire is to travel with people who don’t drink….but I don’t want to travel with “dry drunks” if you know what I mean. Not drinking is NO BIG DEAL to me and I don’t need to beat a dead horse or talk about how self righteous I am that I don’t drink anymore. I am sorry to be disrespectful to anyone. It is just hard to find people who don’t drink for reasons other than alcoholism.

Sharon

I agree. I am the only one in my family besides my child who doesn’t drink. At reunions I am constantly told that just one won’t hurt..well it just may at my age of 73. I am much happier not drinking especially in the mornings! I have just.as much fun if not more laughing at them. I come from a really funny and fun family. . I just found out my best friend has started drinking again at 71. It almost killed her last time. She started by saying it’s just one. Well now it is just 2 or 3. I know how she pours! Her Clamato juice in her vodka is almost transparent! I fear for my friend.

janet gourand

well done Sharon, the trouble with “just one” is that for some of us (like your friend) it will lead to more. If your friend is ready to make a change she can email me janet@tribesober.com – I am also 71.

janet gourand

You are so right Denise, alcohol really is the only drug we have to justify not taking. So ironic that it is assumed that we had a “problem” when we decide to make the healthy choice and quit. As a society we have been manipulated to believe that we need alcohol in our lives to be happy! The smart people are unplugging from the matrix and embracing the alcohol free lifestyle.

Beth

i quit drinking over custody issues when my kids were little. there were already so many reasons i was being attacked by my ex with his next wife and my own mother, i didn’t want to hand them a reason. so i quit. i went to meetings for the support. yes, i said ‘i am an alcoholic’. (i never had a problem legally with it, though i imagine i deserved a DUI in my youth). i haven’t drank in over 20 years. because after all the custody stuff settled and both my Son and Daughter were back with me, well, it seemed like alcohol and kids weren’t a great mix, so i just stayed stopped.

i do, however, smoke marijuana for joint pain.

i think -along with nosy people just getting in your business- it’s important for us not to judge each other when it comes to finding solutions and relief as we move through life. we all have battles and need help sometimes. we are all similar, but there are some key differences from one body to the next. where one person is advised to lay off all alcohol, some find a little relief in evening wine. where some people have liver disease, others can drink all night.

take care of yourselves and try to understand not all the same solutions fit all challenges.

Last edited 10 months ago by Beth
janet gourand

Hi Beth you are right that we should never judge – I certainly can’t because I drank far too much for 40 years! However at 7 years sober I am convinced that the alcohol free lifestyle leads to better health, less anxiety, more energy and happiness.

Lori

When I was married, my husband drank far too much, so I chose to completely abstain from alcohol during those years, since I felt someone needed to always be completely ‘there’ for the kids. During weddings and other occasions where alcohol was present and being pushed to drink, I’d just state, No thanks. If pressured, I’d say, I’ve chosen to not drink for awhile. Then I’d look away. End of discussion. After my divorce, I’d have a drink or two on occasion with friends. After a health incident, my doctor advised me strongly to only have one glass of red wine per day and only those few times when I was away with friends. A treat. Abstain the rest of the time. My friend understands so I don’t have difficulty there, but when unfamiliar people are around, I’ve found it awkward to refuse that second glass of wine, without having to launch into an explanation, which I’m reluctant to do. And since I’m trying to eat healthier also, there are so few replacements that are suitable. I generally drink water. This article made me feel better about this. :-)

janet gourand

Hi Lori I like your response about “choosing not to drink for a while” and then looking away ;-) Our body language and tone of voice conveys so much. If we seem hesitant or apologetic the pressure will continue. We need to realise that it’s not our job to make other people feel comfortable about their drinking!

Alainnah Robertson

A very timely reminder of how alcohol damages the body.

janet gourand

so glad you found it useful Alainnah

The Author

Janet Gourand is a writer, a podcaster and a recovery coach. She quit drinking in 2015 at the age of 63. She founded Tribe Sober which enables people to change their relationship with alcohol. Tribe Sober is an international community which offers a membership program.

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