Why we embrace the sober curious

We know there’s a bit of… hype right now about short-term sobriety. The “sober curious” movement has made headlines; there’s a burgeoning variety of non-alcoholic craft beverages; there are bars and dance clubs explicitly designed to be drink-free.

It’s a trend, and it’s unfortunately probably not going to last.

But while it lasts, we think it’s a wonderful thing, in contrast to some, who have expressed concern that characterizing sobriety as a wellness movement might mislead some people with more serious drinking problems (or, more accurately, alcohol use disorders) into thinking changing isn’t necessary for them, or might minimize their struggle in the eyes of others.

It’s a fair concern, but we still think the likely outcome is more good than harm. Here’s why we support sober curiosity and all that comes with it:

  1. We think a lot of people have mild or moderate alcohol use disorders and will be helped by this movement. Addiction is a spectrum, not a binary. In other words, you’re not “an alcoholic” or “not an alcoholic.” If that were the case, you might think some people will have an awful struggle to quit drinking, and others won’t struggle at all. But the reality is somewhere in the middle for most. They’re somewhere on the spectrum. So it’s an anti-addiction move for everyone to quit or cut back to a low risk drinking level. It’s easier to stop drinking before more serious problems develop (you’ll have fewer or less frequent cravings and a life that isn’t as centered around drinking as advantages). So the more people who take on this problem early, the better!

  2. This movement might make it safer (socially) to make changes. More people probably have drinking problems than believe they do. Because the commonly acknowledged treatment options are so stark (expensive rehabs or religious Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with strangers), many people are hesitant to acknowledge problems in their earlier stages. If the movement makes it easier to tell your friends not to offer you drinks, we think that’s a win, as that can be one of the hardest parts of cutting back or quitting normally.

  3. This movement might actually help some people discover they have problems. If you had told us we’d have cravings for alcohol when we quit, we’d have laughed you off. But we did, and we only found out by quitting. So we think it’s far more likely that this movement helps someone who doesn’t know they have a problem than that it derails some who do. If people find that quitting drinking, even temporarily, is harder than they’d imagined, they might decide to do it permanently or seek further help.

If you’re cutting back or quitting drinking, we’d love to help. Drinker’s Helper is an app that provides motivational exercises, drink tracking and insights into why you drink, and a support group of your peers to help you make needed changes. Try it free for a week before joining!

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