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What is Sober Curiosity? Exploring the Rise of Mindful Drinking.

Woman thoughtful on mountain - sober curious

Overall trends indicate a decrease in alcohol consumption (especially among young adults), sparking an increase in conversations around sobriety.

As a trauma therapist, I hear many people scrutinize their relationship with alcohol. It can be challenging to broach the subject, given the weight the word “sober” can hold. Thinking about sobriety might bring up anxiety about the future or challenge ideas about one’s identity.

Common thoughts include:

 “If I commit to going sober, what if I later realize that it’s not for me?”

 “Do I need to join AA?”

“What if I don’t identify as a problem drinker? I don’t have an addiction!”

 “How do I define “problem”? What if I have no idea what this word means to me?!”

Enter: sober curious.

Defining the word “problem” can be perplexing, leaving many unsure of its implications. In our society, we often receive messages that alcohol use is black or white, good or bad, right or wrong… “alcoholic,” or not. But like many things in life, alcohol use does not exist on a binary! Sober curiosity recognizes the empowerment within the gray area. It challenges the notion that you must “hit rock bottom” in order to want your life to be different, posing a much simpler question: in what ways would my life be better without alcohol?

Many people experience their drinking patterns as mindless. We consume, because that’s what we’ve always done. Maybe that’s what was modeled to us by our caregivers, friends, or mentors. There may not have been a meaningful time to step back and consider doing things in a different way.

Society often glamorizes binge drinking, with pop culture reinforcing the idea that it is considered normal, fun, sexy, or even required. Think about a few of your favorite movies or shows featuring young adults. Now, reflect on the ways that alcohol use is presented to you. 

She got promoted? Martinis.

They were broken up with? Tequila shots. 

Family gathering? Bring out the red wine. 

The pattern here is that there is always an occasion, and life imitates art.

But there are other ways of doing things. Sober curiosity suggests alternative approaches, whether abstaining from alcohol entirely or enjoying a glass or two of champagne on New Year’s Eve. 

This is not to make a case for absolute sobriety; rather, sober curiosity invites us to ask more questions, infuse mindfulness and intentionality into our choices, and unite our minds, bodies, and spirits into the decision-making process.

Then, you make that choice with knowledge and alignment to your core self.

If you resonate with these thoughts, question your relationship with alcohol, and crave a safe community of like-minded people to process with, consider joining our Sober Curious therapy group. We will meet weekly to delve deeper into your values, your wellness goals, and your embodiment,  exploring how alcohol fits into the larger picture.

Supvised by Julie Jones, LCDC, LPC-S


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