If you've ever woken up hungover, you probably questioned your decision to consume alcohol. For most people, these thoughts fade away quickly at the next social gathering or party. But what if you actually gave up alcohol for an extended period of time? Here's what you should know about the growing sober curious movement, along with some insight into what actually happens when you give up alcohol.
The “sober sometimes" or "sober curious" movement consists of people who don't necessarily have drinking problems, but who choose to be sober because the health benefits that come along with it. People that choose this lifestyle are moderate or heavy drinkers who have become disillusioned with alcohol. Sick of hangovers and feeling awful, they seek alternatives to partying too hard or the "wine mom" culture. Thanks to this growing movement, ditching alcohol on a short-term basis is becoming more common. It's also become a powerful way to improve sleep, enhance mental well-being, and reduce the risk of health problems.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 86 percent of adults have ingested alcohol at some point in their lives, while 56 percent have had alcohol in the past month. Still, despite these numbers, there has been increasing interest in abstaining from alcohol for the physical and mental health benefits.
Although researchers have just begun to dig into the potential benefits of short-term alcohol abstinence, the early results are compelling. One British study found that 82 percent of participants reported feeling a sense of achievement after quitting alcohol for a month, while 62 percent said they slept better and another 49 percent said they lost weight.
Another study found that subjects who quit alcohol for a month lost weight and showed improvements in blood pressure and insulin sensitivity. Other research showed that people who abstained from alcohol for a month displayed fewer signs of oxidative stress to the liver. These findings showed compelling insight into how the body responds to even a brief interruption in moderate alcohol use.
For people who have alcohol-use disorder, the benefits of quitting alcohol are clear. That said, research is also showing that even moderate drinkers can benefit from taking short, and long-term, breaks from alcohol. In the past, it wasn't always easy for people to quit drinking because it made them feel left out when amongst friends. With the growing "sober sometimes" or "sober curious" movement, however, people are feeling more comfortable with the idea of living without alcohol for weeks at a time.
The sober curious movement speaks to a fresh generation of young people who aim to decentralize alcohol-driven culture and replace it with healthier alternatives. There are influencers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram who have helped rebrand a sober lifestyle. There's also been an increased focus on yoga and meditation, mocktails, healthy activities and positive lifestyle choices. This has all helped create alternatives to the heavy-drinking culture. The sober curious movement is helping dismantle the perception that sobriety is uncool and one must take part in drinking to fit into the social settings.