“Sober Curious” isn’t exactly recovery from alcoholism, but it can help redefine our drinking conversation.

Ever heard of a “mocktail”? It’s what some call the drinks of the “sober curious” crowd. And what’s “sober curious,” you might ask?

It’s the term for someone who’s stepping back from their casual drinking habits to reconsider how they treat alcohol. They might be curious about the health benefits of an alcohol-free life or find that alcohol leaves them unsatisfied. They might even post their alcohol-free jaunts on social media.

But some believe that the sober curious and their mocktails are more “mock” than “sober” – why?

It’s Not Serious Recovery

To those actually in recovery from alcohol addiction, the positive message of the sober curious movement seems too simple to be helpful.

The blogger Laura McKowen told the Guardian that while she appreciates that the sober curious conversation might make an alcohol-free society more conceivable, she thinks that its care-free online image might create an unrealistic expectation for sobriety. She writes in a blog post that “not drinking and a cool IG feed isn’t a light switch to a better life – it takes a hell of a lot more than that.”

The Guardian article which cites her notes how “[a]bstaining from alcohol may be trendy for some, but for one in eight Americans who have alcoholism, it can mean life or death.” Refinery29 also highlights the same criticism: “being addicted to alcohol and wanting to drink less aren’t the same thing, and the two shouldn’t be held in the same regard.”

Many #sobercurious influencers would agree. Ruby Warrington, who wrote the book Sober Curiousacknowledges that the trend shouldn’t replace serious recovery. “Talking about sobriety as a trend is not OK,” she told the Guardian. “The point of sober curious is to differentiate between those of us who have the privilege to be sober curious and dabble [in alcohol] here and there, and those for whom drinking and alcohol is a mortal danger.”

So What Should You Know?

The sober curious trend probably won’t help anyone in recovery from alcohol addiction. The trend has its limits: the privilege to choose alcohol consumption when you feel like it is just that  a privilege. It’s not that easy for everyone.

But the sober curious movement might help us rethink how and why our society drinks. It might help us mainstream the medically-supported idea that alcohol consumption is a spectrum measured in degrees of dependence. Warrington adds, “More and more we’re seeing that there are shades of gray when it comes to dependence on alcohol.” If we can get behind choosing not to drink, as a precaution, or because of health benefits like better sleep and weight loss, then we might be better for it.

And if your loved one is recovering from alcohol addiction, getting curious about sobriety might support them. While you’re not in life-or-death recovery, you might still learn a thing or two to accommodate their alcohol-free lifestyles.

No matter who you are, you should seek out serious recovery options if you need it. In the Rooms is another option for your recovery, for when you need meetings or answers to your questions. We support recovery community because no one can do it alone.

Photo by Terje Sollie from Pexels



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