From mimosas at brunch to beers at happy hour, drinking alcohol is associated with having a good time. But a shift has begun, with younger adults choosing to drink less frequently or not at all. The World Health Organization says the number of drinkers worldwide is decreasing, down 5% since 2000. Now the “sober curious” movement, as it’s called, has people challenging one another to experience life with minimal or no alcohol, claiming a positive change in their overall well-being.
Those who participate often choose to abstain for a month, whether it’s “dry January” or “sober September.” Others may choose to abstain indefinitely, while some simply choose to cut back the frequency and quantity in which they drink. Sober bars offering non-alcoholic drinks are popping up in cities, offering people a venue to socialize without drinks.
Can dialing back on alcohol improve your health? Research shows there’s no downside.
The health benefits of abstaining from alcohol for heavy drinkers are well-established, preventing long-term effects like high blood pressure and damage to the liver. Recent studies find that moderate and casual drinkers can benefit from drinking less. A 2016 study of British men and women who participated in “dry January” found that participants reported better sleep and weight loss at the end of the month. Other studies have shown people who cut back on alcohol notice better emotional and mental health as well as younger looking skin.
The “sober curious” movement allows people to examine alcohol’s role in their lives and well-being. However, people struggling with alcoholism should seek medical help.