Culture

Why are Generation Z More Likely to be Sober?

Written by Joseph Mcqueen

Generation Z: are they the sober generation?

Why are the younger generations more likely to try out sobriety? In recent years, a noticeable trend has emerged among the younger generation, Generation Z (Gen Z), suggesting a higher likelihood of embracing sobriety compared to their predecessors.

These pre-generations include: millennials, generation X, boomers and so on. This shift in behaviour is not merely a random occurrence, there is evidently something going on here. It reflects a complex interplay of social, economic, and cultural factors that have shaped the values and choices of this generation. We’re going to be delving into the multifaceted reasons behind why Gen Z is more likely to choose a sober lifestyle. Let’s do this. 

Who are Generation Z?

With the world constantly moving along, with generations taking centre stage and then slowly drifting into the background, the spotlight has now shifted to Generation Z. The average generation usually spans around 20-30 years, which is how you can usually tell which one you are specifically part of. Born roughly between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, Gen Z – as they’re colloquially called – is the demographic group succeeding the Millennials. Before them came the Gen X’s and before them came the boomers – who were born anywhere from 1946 to 1964. The Z’s are a cohort marked by distinct characteristics, values, and outlook on the world. As the first true digital natives, they navigate a world shaped by technological advancements. In fact, this generation were the first to grow up in a world of the internet and social media. Forbes writes:

“Gen Z has learned to think, learn, and communicate in an environment defined by wireless internet ubiquity… infinite content, and immediacy. They are totally plugged in—whether through social media, search engines, or instant messaging—to each other as well as an infinite array of answers to any question at any time.”

With the instantaneous nature of the internet – no question is left unanswered, no single person is left without a date (kind of), no person is left uncontactable, no item is left un-buyable, no moment is left unnoticed. In other words, Gen Z’s have grown up being used to finding everything they need from the internet, and quickly. What it has also meant is that knowledge and diversity is rife. 

generation z

Gen Z Diversity

Another huge aspect of this new generation is their diverse nature. Gen Z is arguably the most diverse generation to date. Born into a world that celebrates multiculturalism, but also fears it more than ever, they exhibit a heightened awareness and appreciation for diversity. This diversity extends beyond ethnicity to include differences in gender identity, sexual orientation, and socio-economic backgrounds. Gen Z values inclusivity and is often at the forefront of advocating for social justice causes. Their commitment to inclusivity is reflected in their demand for representation and fairness in various spheres of life. NBC writes:

Generation Z is also the most racially-diverse. Thirty-eight percent of voters aged 18-25 identified as people of color, compared to 32% of millennials, 28% of Generation X and 21% of Baby Boomers identifying the same way.”

Whilst previous generations were not as used to multiculturalism and varying sexual identities, Gen Z are certainly leading the charge in awareness and understanding. This not only means that many people are feeling more and more accepted in their own skin and identity, but also that this new generation is proving to be more accepting of new ideas and fresh perspectives. In other words, they don’t necessarily listen to the stubborn minds of some of their predecessors, but instead want to create a world where ‘norms’ are questioned and people are accepted. 

Sobriety

The idea of sobriety means a lot of different things to different people. At its purest form, being sober essentially means being someone that does not consume alcohol. However, this can also signify not taking drugs too. The reason why people decide to go sober can obviously vary, but it usually begins with an interest in what life would be like without alcohol. This is also known as ‘sober curiosity’. With around 2 billion people consuming alcohol worldwide, and sobriety being seen culturally as a boring existence, it’s no surprise that people find it hard to consider it – let alone genuinely implement it into their lives. However, the Recovery Village writes:  

“The idea of sobriety can be terrifying. One big reason people feel so afraid of sobriety is because of what they see in the media, pop culture and even from people they know on social media. There’s the sense that if you’re not using drugs or alcohol, somehow life is boring or uninteresting. There’s the misconception that if you’re sober, you aren’t fun.”

These two opposing viewpoints – of sobriety being either fun or boring – is what probably splits not only people, but also generations. Alcohol has been a part of society for centuries, and going against the grain can be hard. Being sober at social events with drunk people, being sober on weekends, being sober basically at all – it can feel truly daunting. But if you’re able to see the health benefits, both on mind and body, there is enough there to maintain sobriety. Overall, there are loads of ways to have fun, despite a life without drinking. But it does take resilience and a mind that can go against the societal norms that are hammered into the fabrics of civilisation. For whatever reason, it seems that Gen Z’s are more likely to do this than other generations. Global News writes:

“A 2018 Berenberg Research report, in fact, found that Gen Z are drinking 20% less alcohol per individual than Millennials, who themselves are drinking less than Gen X and Boomers did at their age.”

So why is this happening?

Gen Z & Sobriety 

In one of the largest UK drinking studies in 2019, it was found that 16-25 year olds were the most likely group to avoid alcohol – with 26% of them being sober. The same study also discovered that those aged 55-74 – 15% of them did not drink. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific reason why Gen Z’s seem to be more likely to try sobriety than their older counterparts, but we can definitely try. Here are potentially some of the reasons:

Worldview

As we’ve mentioned, Gen Z’s are much more interconnected with each other and themselves. There’s a zeitgeist of acceptance of people and alternative methods of wellness also. A distinctive feature of Gen Z is their strong emphasis on health methods. This generation is increasingly focused on maintaining physical fitness, prioritising mental health, and adopting holistic well-being practices. A few decades ago, the idea of physical activity and sobriety benefiting your mental health was almost laughed at, whereas now it’s basically known to be fact. The allure of a healthy lifestyle has led many Gen Z individuals to opt for sobriety, viewing it as a means to promote overall health and life happiness. Sober raves have even become a thing – where young people can enjoy dancing, in a space that does not require drinking.

Social Media

How could we talk about the new generation without mentioning social media? The influence of social media on Gen Z cannot be overstated. Platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter serve as powerful channels for shaping opinions and creating trends. In recent years, there has been a noticeable rise in accounts and communities dedicated to sobriety and mindful living. Influencers and ordinary individuals share their stories of sobriety, creating a supportive environment that encourages others to make similar choices. The normalisation of a sober lifestyle on social media has undoubtedly helped an increasing number of Gen Z individuals giving it a go, or simply being curious about this way of life.

Financial

Finally, it’s important to mention that drinking alcohol is darn expensive. Economic considerations also play a role in Gen Z’s likelihood to go sober, especially with them being overall poorer than millennials. This generation has entered adulthood in the wake of economic uncertainties, including the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and more recently, the global economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These pretty awful challenges have triggered a sense of financial consciousness among them. This has led some to make mindful decisions about spending. Choosing a sober lifestyle can be seen as a financially responsible choice, as it eliminates the expenses associated with alcohol consumption. This is especially true as in the UK the average household spends around £744 on alcohol. 

generation z

Conclusion

Whatever you think about Gen Z – their obsession with social media and online presence – they are certainly leading the way with diversity, forward thinking, acceptance of identities and alternative lifestyle choices. There is no surprise then that they are the generation that delve most into sobriety. Despite their youthful ages, this generation are seeing what the world is like without a substance that is such a common household possession. What is life like without alcohol? Many of those in generation Z are trying to find out. 

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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.

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