Welcome to the sober curious movement
For those of us who’ve said, ‘I’m never drinking again’, only to find ourselves a few weeks later (or, let’s be honest, days) ordering a pint down the pub, it can be hard to imagine a life completely teetotal. But with record-breaking Google searches for ‘sober curious’, it’s fair to say there’s a growing desire for an alcohol-free lifestyle.
What’s the meaning of sober curious?
As the name suggests, sober curious is about the exploration of a life without alcohol. It differs from abstinence as it’s about making more mindful and conscious decisions when drinking alcohol, rather than going completely teetotal. If you’re somewhere between wanting to drink less but not ready to wave goodbye to a casual tipple now and then, this ones for you.
The phrase sober curious was coined by Ruby Warrington in her 2018 book ‘Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol’. With an Instagram following of 28.6k, it’s fair to say Ruby has inspired a tribe of like-minded sober curious drinkers.
For most, heavy drinking is synonymous with teenage or university years, where getting ‘blackout drunk’ was a casual weekend occurrence. But, Gen Z is changing that. Over the last few years more and more young people are reducing their alcohol intake or giving up entirely.
A study revealed that Gen Z are the most likely generation to be teetotal, with 26% of 16-25-olds saying they don't drink. And, in 2019 the proportion of 16-25-year-olds who reported monthly drinking fell to 41%, compared to 67% in 2002.
So why are Gen Z paving the way for a sober curious movement?
- The BBC reported that Gen Z are simply more cautious than their older counterparts when it comes to alcohol. They are more aware of the health implications, and Google research found they associate alcohol with “vulnerability”, “anxiety” and even “abuse".
- Alongside the health risk, Gen Z are reportedly concerned about the perception of getting drunk. 49% of Gen Z claim their online image is always at the back of their mind when they go out socialising and drinking.
- And Gen Z are said to prioritise productivity and success. Gen Z places work/university performance above socialising in their life priorities and 20% of university students are conservatively estimated to be tee-total.
In short, rumours are that Gen Zers see drunkenness as uncool and uninteresting. A bit like the attack on millennials' infamous black skinny jeans.
How it’s changing our relationship with alcohol
Gone are the days where ‘I’m not drinking tonight’ is exclusively said by the designated driver, attitudes towards alcohol are changing. Choosing to stay sober in a setting where you’d ordinarily drink is empowering. Especially when you’re doing it with a goal in mind e.g. to wake up hangover-free and be productive AF the next day. But don’t take our word for it.
‘Alcohol-free pink gin’ has seen a +200% increase in Google searches over the last 12 months. Along with breakout searches for:
- Sober October
- Sober date ideas
- Sober curious meaning
- Sober curious
You only need to search #sobercurious on social media to return millions of inspirational posts encouraging people to be more mindful drinkers.
So is it just another health trend, or here to stay?
You can almost hear the eye rolls of millennials as another health trend is thrust upon us. But call it what you will, there’s no denying a shift in society's relationship with alcohol.
This year’s Dry January’s organisers report almost 9 million people in the UK planned to have a month off drinking. And with consumer demand for no or low-alcohol products increasing, it’s also changing the alcohol industry.
Today, alcohol-free products are found in most supermarkets and pubs. And, it’s said non-alcoholic alternatives are set to see a 14% annual volume growth.
In our humble opinion, it’s just the beginning. In 2020, 12% of people called themselves sober curious, and today it’s 19%. And let’s be honest, that only includes the percentage of people who had even heard of sober curious.
So we hope that with more understanding of the benefits of an alcohol-free life (hello, no hangover or hangxiety), tasty alternatives (shameless plug) and, society’s increasing focus on health and well-being, we’ll see more people sharing Gen Z’s opinion - that in fact, drinking just isn’t cool anymore.