Drinking culture in the US is changing. Here’s what to know about being ‘sober curious.’ (2024)

The ‘sober curious’ movement is brewing. Here’s what it’s about.

Fox News multimedia reported Mills Hayes has more on the so-called ‘sober curious’ movement and how it could help your health.

People across the country might not be willing to give up their co*cktails just yet, but many are becoming more curious about the role alcohol plays in their life.

According to a NCSolutions Consumer Sentiment Survey in January, drinking culture in the U.S. is changing. More than 40% of Americans said they wanted to drink less this year. Around 84% of people still feel drinking is a big part of America’s culture, which is down 9% from 2023.

A Gallup poll in 2023 also found younger adults are becoming more likely to turn away towards alcohol.

While baby boomers had slightly increased their drinking habits, according to the poll, only 42% of millennials claimed to drink. For Gen Z, the total is even lower, with only 21% saying they drink regularly.

One of the reasons for the shift in culture can be attributed to the so-called "sober curious" movement. Here’s what it’s about and how it could impact your life:

What is sober curious?

Drinking culture in the US is changing. Here’s what to know about being ‘sober curious.’ (1)

FILE - Three people make a celebratory toast with co*cktails. Getty Images

Alcohol is relied upon by many to enjoy social interactions or cope with stress. In short, the "sober curious" movement is about being mindful of when you choose to drink instead of doing it out of habit or expectation for those activities.

The term was first coined in a 2018 book by author Ruby Warrington, according to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF). And the movement and awareness of it has grown in popularity since then.

"The movement encourages people to reflect on the role alcohol plays in their life," ADF said.

That reflection could lead to drinking less often, less heavily or possibly altogether.

"This choice depends on the individual, and abstinence (no alcohol) isn’t the only option available," ADF added.

RELATED: Here’s why guidance on alcohol consumption is being considered in Washington

How to stop drinking

As your body is adjusting to a decreased intake in alcohol, your mind will go through an adjustment period as well.

It may be uncomfortable or even downright difficult to abstain at first, especially if alcohol is part of a routine to relieve stress. But paying attention to that uncomfortableness is key.

"Paying attention to how someone feels while taking a break from alcohol can provide a great deal of insight into why one is drinking in the first place and whether they want to return to it after the break," Director Dr. George F. Koob with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) told FOX Television Stations.

Cutting back on drinking may take an emotional toll as well, due to the expectations and societal norms that come with drinking.

If you find yourself reaching for a drink to feel less stressed, or to be social, or because you enjoy the taste, taking note of why the urge has popped up can help you decide where you may want to make changes.

Other tips to help cut back on drinking:

  • Participate in "Dry January" or "Sober October"
  • Attend events with a friend who also intends to drink less or not at all
  • Choose a day or days of the week to be alcohol free
  • Seek out events or hobbies that don’t include alcohol
  • Listen to podcasts or read books on the issue
  • Experiment with mocktails
  • Seek professional help

The national hotline from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) can be reached by calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357). It is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service.

Benefits of drinking less

Regardless of age, people who drink moderately might be surprised to find several benefits from taking a break.

"Some people might discover that alcohol was irritating their stomach, disrupting their sleep, contributing to weight gain, interfering with their morning exercise routine, affecting their mood, or that they relied more on alcohol for stress relief than they thought," Dr. Koob said.

Another perhaps unexpected benefit of cutting back alcohol is the financial savings.

RELATED: Moderate alcohol consumption has no health benefits, analysis finds

"Mocktails" and non-alcoholic beer

Non-alcoholic co*cktails, AKA mocktails, are becoming more commonplace on restaurant menus nowadays. And you may be surprised to find your local liquor store with quite the corner selection of NA beverages – even beers and wines.

And if the aesthetic of alcohol is something you might miss, you’ll be pleased to know that many look like your average beer can, wine bottle, or even special designer spirit bottles.

Market research company Fior Markets estimates that the global non-alcoholic beverage market will grow from $923 million to $1.7 billion by 2028.

This story was reported from Detroit. Fox News Digital contributed.

Drinking culture in the US is changing. Here’s what to know about being ‘sober curious.’ (2024)

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