Whether you choose to drink alcohol or not do you ever wonder why alcohol is so prevalent in our environment, especially as college students? For instance, have you ever been to a party where there was no alcohol or had a night where the activities only revolved around drinking, perhaps the only goal of the night was to get drunk. Even in the media we consume, alcohol has an ever-present role in movies, TV, music, ads and more. If you’re curious about the role of alcohol in your life, in your social circles or even in our environment you may be interested in the sober curious movement.
Sober curiosity is a movement that emphasizes conscious choice and reflection regarding your relationship with alcohol. It is a lifestyle choice to reduce or abstain from alcohol and to engage with your own life and relationships in a new way. Often, when we hear the word sober, we think that means abstaining from alcohol or that abstaining is due to being in recovery. However, sober curiosity takes a unique approach in that it encourages serious reflection on alcohol and limited alcohol use without necessarily committing to being entirely abstinent (although that is always an option). Being sober may be an intentional lifestyle choice and sobriety does not always mean someone is in recovery from an Alcohol Use Disorder. In short, it offers flexibility with an emphasis on empowering you to decide what you want your use and relationship to alcohol to look like. If you’re interested in giving sober curiosity a try there are some tips below to get you started:
- Don’t make alcohol/drinking the focus of the night: Whether it be at a friend’s house, a bar or elsewhere, your night doesn’t have to be planned around drinking. For example, instead of getting together with friends to drink, try reframing the night as a game night or a chance to share a meal. Shifting the focus away from drinking can help facilitate sober curiosity. Consider asking yourself and your friend group: Is it possible for us to have fun without alcohol? What might that look like?
- Take time to explore: When practicing sober curiosity, give yourself adequate time to explore options. Maybe you try a certain group or activity that doesn’t quite align or feel all that fun. Don’t give up on sober curiosity just yet! It might take some time to find a crew you enjoy, activities that feel fun, and places that are interesting.
- Start conversations early: Don’t wait until you’re at the bar to ask, “Why are we going out every weekend?” Start the conversation ahead of time and ask yourself and your friends questions like, “Why are going to the bar every weekend?” or “Can we do something else, what are our alternatives?”
- Create space to reflect: Make space to ask yourself important questions about your relationship to alcohol. Whether you choose to abstain, reduce, or maintain your alcohol use, an ongoing internal conversation is crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship with alcohol. Below are a few questions you can continually ask yourself to help assess your relationship to alcohol:
- When and why am I using alcohol?
- How do I feel before, during, and after using alcohol?
- Do I have other outlets for the role alcohol plays or do I always feel the need to use alcohol to fulfill that need?
- How would I know if my alcohol use was becoming an issue?
- What might my life look like without alcohol?
- What might I gain from reducing or abstaining from alcohol use?
It may sound limiting to be sober curious in a city like Chicago where bars are as common as cars. However, Chicago offers a number of bars that serve booze-free mocktails! Click here or here for some sober curious options!
It’s important to note that being sober curious is not for everyone. For some, leaving the option to drink on the table may not be realistic, healthy, or sustainable and that’s ok. Abstinence as a way of life is another great option and the sober curious movement offers sober events where alcohol is not present, even when the group of people present may not be entirely abstinent. Sober curiosity is not a supplement for professional support or treatment for alcohol misuse. However, it is a great option if you want to reflect on your relationship with alcohol and explore different ways to live in relationship to alcohol.
Whether you are in recovery, sober, sober curious, or choosing to use alcohol you can always reach out to The Office of Health Promotion and Wellness for more information, support or other resources. We encourage you to engage in a continual conversation with yourself and friends to think about the role alcohol is playing in your life and how things might be different without it or with less of it. The Office of Health Promotion and Wellness offers 1-on-1 appointments and is a great place to begin this conversation. We also offer…
- Peer-led workshops to learn harm reduction strategies and reflect on your use
- Workshops for those who are living life substance-free
- Collegiate Recovery Community meetings
- 1:1 appointments to explore your relationship with alcohol, cannabis or other substances as well as mental health and sexual and relationship violence support
If you have any other questions about sober curiosity, alcohol, other topics, need support or anything else, never hesitate to contact us!
Office of Health Promotion and Wellness
Phone: (773) 325 – 7129
Social Media: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook: @healthydepaul
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