As someone who’s been sober my whole life, I love the sober curious movement.
Sober Curious: People who do not identify as having an AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder) but who make the decision to test the lifestyle and health benefits of sobriety for an amount of time.
I can count the number of times I’ve sipped alcoholic beverages on my fingers. I am a rare breed of person who has chosen to abstain, not for religious reasons or out of some moral high belief, and not because of a personal struggle with alcoholism, though partly out of fear of it.
Alcoholism is part of my family history, and drinking never felt worth the risk to me. But I also simply don’t like it. Of the few drinks I have tried at different times in my life, I’ve never liked the way they tasted. More than that, I didn’t like the way they made me feel.
If those reasons aren’t enough (they totally are), I definitely don’t need any of the added health risks that come along with alcohol consumption. I am a cancer survivor with more than enough long-term health risk factors on my radar.
So I don’t drink.
I didn’t drink in college, even though abstaining made me feel extremely out-of-place at many social gatherings. I knew from quite early on that I would never fit in with most groups of people.
I don’t drink now, even though it’s made me a complete outlier in mom culture. Not only do I not drink wine, but I don’t drink coffee, either. I can’t stand the taste. So I can’t relate to 90% of mainstream mom culture and feel out-of-place among my peers.
Before college and beyond, to this very day, it has been abundantly clear to me that drinking is the accepted and expected norm in our society, and therefore, abstaining is not.
But I feel there is the potential for this to shift with the sober curious movement, for with trends come acceptance.
The sober curious movement is bringing abstinence to the mainstream. Instagram influencers, op-ed write-ups, blogs, memes, and tweets are suddenly pointing out that if someone turns down a drink, there’s no reason to make a big deal out of it and the person owes you no explanation.
As the sober curious movement gains popularity, it is becoming a hip, trendy personal challenge. In doing so, it is making “No, thanks” some sort of empowering counter-cultural statement.
I can tell you I have never once felt empowered by stating my preference not to drink. It always felt like one more spotlight shining on me to make me feel uncomfortable and out-of-place on just about every occasion. While I will likely still feel that way, I can imagine a much less alcohol-centric society in the future, one where drinking is not expected, where a woman choosing not to have wine isn’t asked if she’s pregnant, where a man who passes on a beer isn’t pressured with “C’mon, just one,” where the prevailing belief isn’t that you have to drink to have fun or be fun to be around, where saying “No, thanks” doesn’t come with assumptions or interrogations.
So, while I normally hold a certain distaste for trends, I am happy to see the sober curious movement taking off. Any trend that helps to relieve societal pressure and normalize a person making the counter-cultural decision not to imbibe is the kind of trend I can get behind.