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What Does Sober Curious Mean?

Alcohol opinions
Written by Joseph Mcqueen

What is the sober curious movement all about? How big is it and what is mindful drinking…

What does it mean to be curious about sobriety? We’re going to be exploring the sober curious movement, as we delve into a journey into mindful drinking.

In recent years, a cultural shift has taken place, challenging traditional norms surrounding alcohol consumption. The rise of the ‘sober curious’ movement signifies a growing trend among individuals who are reevaluating their relationship with alcohol. This movement is not necessarily about complete abstinence but centres on a mindful approach to drinking, encouraging individuals to explore their habits, motivations, and the impact of alcohol on their overall well-being. If you’ve ever been curious about what sobriety could do for you, then read on. 

What is the Sober Curious Movement?

Sober curiosity is exactly what it sounds like. For those with alcoholism, sobriety is constantly offered to them as a difficult but necessary way out. For those who have never drunk in their lives, then sobriety is simply a default. But what about those who have a habit of drinking, at midweek events and on weekends, but aren’t quite sure whether it warrants them to stop? Perhaps it’s time to get sober curious. ‘Sober curious’ is a term coined by author Ruby Warrington in her book, “Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol.” The concept gained momentum as people started questioning societal norms and began seeking a healthier and more intentional approach to alcohol consumption. Warrington writes in the description of the book:

“How different would your life be if you stopped drinking on autopilot? If you stopped drinking altogether? The answers to these questions, and so many more, form the central thesis to Sober Curious—the book which has spearheaded a global movement to reevaluate alcohol as our social drug of choice.”

At its core, sober curiosity is about introspection and self-discovery. It invites individuals to examine their relationship with alcohol without judgement and explore the reasons behind their drinking habits. In today’s society, where around 2 billion people drink alcohol, it is hard to truly evaluate a drinking habit. Unlike other drugs, alcohol is mostly accepted and is not challenged – unless someone has a ‘problem’. But how do we define a problem? Do hangovers, depression, anxiety and lost time lounging around on the sofa still count as a problem? Or is it only aggression, drink-driving and day drinking that counts? In truth, there is no one size fits all and this movement encourages a personalised, mindful approach to alcohol consumption.

Sober curiosity is for those who believe themselves to have a drinking problem, yes, but it’s also for those who simply want to see what life would be like without a drug that they have been regularly consuming for a very long time. In other words, you don’t have to be an alcoholic to want to be sober. Sometimes it seems like alcohol is the only drug in the world that you have to have a problem with in order to explain why you don’t use it. 

The Roots of Sober Curiosity

Alcohol has been a part of society for centuries, and it’s likely that this will continue to be the case for many more. For whatever reason, this drug is considered respected, whereas others with far less death rates are not. Alcohol actually kills 3 million people worldwide each year. But, as we’re taught, alcohol is simply a part of the fabrics of society. Oxford Academic writes: 

“There is no certainty as to when humans first produced alcoholic drinks. The earliest alcoholic drink may have been made from berries or honey. However, the discovery of late Stone Age beer containers dating back to 8000 bce demonstrates that humans have been fermenting alcoholic drinks for at least 10,000 years”

It’s really hard to know when a drinking habit can be having a negative effect, especially when you’ll often share these habits with friends and even family. For instance, drinking a glass of wine every night, and maybe a few on the weekend, this may not be considered a ‘problem’ by the doctors. However, if this makes you feel sluggish almost every day of the week, and a little less motivated, then that is a problem. It’s a problem for you. The sober curious movement is deeply rooted in the broader shift towards wellness and mindfulness. As people become more conscious of their physical and mental well-being, they are questioning the role of alcohol in their lives. Anyone, anywhere, can be sober curious. As people begin to question more the role of certain institutional existences – such as governmental power and even alcohol – with this comes a question. What would my daily life be like if I didn’t drink? 

Who is Sober Curious? 

Finding the sober curious movement is really helpful for those who simply want to answer this question above. Wanting to be sober doesn’t have to only be for those who are considered alcoholics. Anyone has the right and ability to wonder whether a life without alcohol could better their lives. Sober curiosity is becoming ever more prominent with new generations. Forbes writes:

“Gen-Z drink on average 20% less than millenials, who also drink less than the previous generation, mainly because of an increased awareness of the dangers and effects of alcohol and the rise of health-consciousness as a lifestyle.”

Several factors contribute to the rise of sober curiosity. It seems that there is an Increased awareness of the negative health effects of alcohol, coupled with a desire for improved mental clarity and emotional well-being. This has prompted many to reevaluate their drinking habits – especially younger people. This, in turn, is also having an effect over older groups too, as they watch the new generations drink far less than they ever did. BBC writes:

“The UK’s largest recent study of drinking behaviours showed in 2019, 16-to-25-year-olds were the most likely to be teetotal, with 26% not drinking, compared to the least likely generation (55-to-74-year-olds), 15% of whom didn’t drink”

It is evident from these statistics that older generations drink a lot more than younger ones. But why is this? Well, there is obviously a lot more information out there than there was before. With the rise of social media and connectivity, young people are able to find out a great deal more about what particular habits can do to their bodies and mental health. In addition, it is then much easier to find a group of people who are also delving into sober curiosity and then join the movement. In other words, you’re not alone in your sobriety. Even sober raves are becoming more popular these days. 

Benefits of Sober Curiosity?

Embracing a sober curious lifestyle comes with a multitude of benefits that extend beyond physical health. One of the most notable advantages is improved mental clarity. Alcohol, even in moderate amounts, can impact cognitive function and contribute to feelings of fogginess and fatigue. By choosing to be sober, individuals may experience enhanced focus, sharper decision-making, and increased overall cognitive performance. In addition, sober curiosity often leads to better sleep. While alcohol may initially induce drowsiness, it can disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to poor sleep quality. By eliminating or reducing alcohol intake, individuals may find themselves enjoying more restful and rejuvenating sleep. Sleep, of course, is paramount to happiness. The emotional benefits of sober curiosity are equally significant. Alcohol can influence mood and exacerbate stress and anxiety. By adopting a mindful approach to drinking, individuals may discover heightened emotional resilience and improved mood.

Resources for Sober Curiosity

Joining the sober curious movement is not a walk in the park, of course it’s difficult. You will most likely be going against the majority of your friends and family. But for those embarking on a journey of sober curiosity, numerous tools and resources are available to provide support and guidance. Online communities, such as social media groups and forums, offer a platform for individuals to share their experiences, seek advice, and connect with like-minded individuals. It is definitely recommended that you read Ruby Warrington’s book, and also check out a few podcasts centred around sober curiosity. 


Sober curiosity is a movement for anyone and everyone. You might still drink alcohol, but be interested in the ideas of sobriety – that’s fine too. The movement is about challenging the role that alcohol has in our lives, and has done in so many people’s lives for centuries. Why do we drink alcohol? What does it give us? What does it take away from us? Is it actually worth it? These questions are not easy to answer, but they certainly are refreshing. Being mindful and aware of your drinking habits may be painful at first, but the road of sober curiosity will eventually lead to a healthier relationship with alcohol. Where do you stand on the sober curious movement? 

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About the author

Joseph Mcqueen

Joseph is a cannabis journalist in the UK. His search and love for the truth in the cannabis industry is what drives him to write.