The Rise of the Sober Curious Generation

The more headlines I read about our generation, the more I can understand why millennials are given a bad name. So let’s take things back a few steps. What does it mean to be sober curious? According to The Guardian, it’s a term used to describe “those who drink less or not at all and broadcast their abstinence with pride as part of their social media personas.”

Leading the voice of the sober curious movement is Ruby Warrington, founder of the alcohol-free event series, Club Soda NYC. With alcohol historically associated with having a good time, Warrington feels that almost everyone could benefit from stepping back and evaluating their relationship with alcohol more honestly. In her new book, also titled Sober Curious, Warrington highlights the shades of grey apparent in modern day relationships with alcohol. It’s no longer a matter of either being a problem drinker or not. If you feel better not drinking, commitment to being sober should be fair game without judgement. 

It’s a cultural shift Warrington relates back to the wellness revolution where the idea of a toga session and clean eating diet would be followed by drinking the night away seems a complete contradiction. 

Club Soda NYC describes itself as “a new space to investigate what happens when we reframe our relationship with alcohol.” Their aim is to “remove some of the stigmas that exists around sobriety and alcohol abuse.” With events such as meet-ups, talks, parties and workshops, the organisation has been featured in publications including Elle, Grazia and The Sunday Times as a key wellness trend. 

In 2019, the eyes of the critics tell us that abstinence is seen as cool and healthy, apparently not dissimilar to going vegan or trying the latest yoga workout. 

In 2019 sobriety is no longer something to be ashamed of, confined to the secrecy and significance of AA meetings. Adopting a lifestyle of sobriety for reasons other than being in recovery is something to be toasted (with soft drinks)  and though many will put it down to a millennial fad, this is one particular stereotype we’re ready and willing to get on board with. It’s ideal for those who want to enjoy the social aspect of a night out without the negative consequences the next day. It helps us make better choices and is significantly better for our health.

At University College London, a study of 10,000 young people found that non-drinking is “becoming more acceptable” with “risky behaviour such as binge drinking less normalized.”

Researchers also found that 29% of 16-24 year olds were non-drinkers in 2015 (increased from 18% in 2005) while binge drinking statistics of that age group fell from 27% to 8%.

From a public health point of view, it’s a ‘trend’ warmly welcomes and with sober-curious bars and events popping up everywhere, who wouldn’t want to put health and happiness first, dancing the night away with no sign of a hangover tomorrow?

Niamh Crawford-Walker

Niamh is a full time fashion and features writer at The Style Edit. Her work has previously appeared in IMAGE magazine, and Emirates Woman.

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