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Understanding “Sober Curious Movement”

There is no doubt that alcohol is a common and accepted social practice in our society. From informal gatherings to tailgating at sporting events to family gatherings, alcohol has a significant presence at just about any social occasion. However, the ways Americans view alcohol use is changing. As people are focusing on improving their health and overall wellness, they are taking a closer look at their use and relationship with alcohol. This change in thought has spawned a new movement which is called the “sober curious movement.” The sober curious trend has led a way for sober curious bars, sober curious groups and more.

What is “Sober Curious”?

Sober curious” is a new term that has emerged that refers to those who are experimenting with sobriety to see what physical and psychological changes they feel. These people may not identify as having a drinking or drug problem, but instead, they may sense that the time has come to moderate their recreational substance use. For those who are sober curious, the decision to quit drinking is not seen as a lifelong commitment. Instead, they want to see what life is like in the absence of alcohol and recreational drug use. It is from this vantage point that a decision can be made regarding prolonged abstinence.

While abstinence is a significant component of the sober curious movement, it is also for those who seek to curtail their drinking as well. For those who regularly drink, doing so in lesser quantities can bring forth noticeable changes in mood as well as physical health. No matter the reason, those who identify as sober curious are making the conscious effort to curtail or quit drinking for a period to become happier and more productive.

Being Sober Curious In Social Settings

For some people, the sober curious movement is seen as nothing but a trend that will eventually lose steam. However, there are indicators that it may be around for the long run. According to an article that ran in Bon Appetit magazine, the alcoholic beverage industry is jumping firmly on the sober curious bandwagon. It is estimated that the low- and non-alcohol drink market will expand to 30 percent through 2022.

Additionally, the movement is gaining further traction through social media. There is an increasing number of social media influencers who are taking to Instagram and other social media platforms extolling the virtues of being sober curious. The number of sober curious and sobriety influencers on social media platforms has increased significantly over the last few years.

Raising Issues

Despite the positivity generated as a result of the sober curious trend, there are issues that can definitely be raised. While it is great to see an increasing number of people willing to embrace sobriety, are they doing so to address the deeper issues of their drinking—or are they simply following the latest trend.

Along with the rise in popularity of sober curious influencers, there is also a rise in those seeking entrepreneurial opportunities to cash in on the trend. From merchandise to sober coaching, there are a plethora of individuals offering sober-related services through social media. It raises questions regarding the legitimacy of such services and whether these are qualified professionals or fly by night entrepreneur looking to make a quick buck.

However, it is important to note that each person’s path to sobriety is unique, and traditional approaches may not fully address a person’s specific needs. Having other options to pursue can be off great benefit, as long as people are aware of the pitfalls.

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Written By: Linda Whiteside


Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson


Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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