Sober is Happening
The effects of alcohol are waning. In the past couple of years, the societal influence of alcohol has shifted. More and more people are reportedly minimizing their alcohol consumption, or simply eliminating it from their lifestyles, opting for activities that promote clarity, health, and wellness.
While this article is all about the awesome things people have turned to in their alcohol-free lives, it is important to know that sober living is far from just a fad.
People are taking the consequences of drinking alcohol to heart. Studies from the CDC and the NIAAA have found that 17% of men and 8% of women will be dependent on alcohol in their lifetime, that alcohol consumption increased the risks of assault and car accidents, and that it causes physical dependence and loss of control.
In another alcohol consumption study done by Demos, 66% of millennials don’t consider alcohol important to their lives, and 20% of them have stopped drinking altogether. Even Generation Y’ers have jumped off the booze train, over 40% saying that alcohol is less important to their generation than to that of their parents.
People are choosing to drink less, and because of options that go beyond somber-sobriety, there has never been a better time to be alcohol-free.
The journey toward more conscious alcohol consumption often begins at the start of the year. It makes sense – someone makes a New Year’s Resolution and takes a break from drinking for a couple weeks. Some go back to their normal consumption habits, others choose to minimize their drinking, and some, for myriad reasons, choose to stay sober.
Alcohol Concern, a UK advocacy organization, took this New Year’s trend and turned it into an official campaign back in 2015. Now, millions of people participate in Dry January every year and the reported results are astounding. According to the Alcohol Concern website, 62% of participants reported better sleep and more energy, 49% of participants lost weight, and 79% of participants saved money.
Further research done by 14 editors at New Scientist found a decrease in blood glucose levels of 16% and of liver fat by 15%, calling Dry January a ‘Vacation for their Livers.’
Dry January has become a gateway into sobriety for a lot of people – expect this campaign to expand as more and more people join in the tradition of an alcohol-free January.
Drinking plays a large part in the night-life and social scenes of most places. Dance clubs, work parties, happy hours, and game days are all accompanied by beer, wine, and hard liquor. While it is possible, and fairly common, to participate in these activities while abstaining from drinking, it can be difficult to always be the “sober one”.
Socializing without alcohol is becoming more popular, though, and it has become easier and easier for individuals living alcohol-free to find exciting things to do with other like-minded people.
It is hard to talk about Alcohol-Free communities without first talking about Daybreaker, the wellness-based dance party sweeping across the US and Europe. Simply stated on their site: “Daybreaker is a morning dance party that will start your day with energy and intention.” People that have attended the party know that Daybreaker’s straightforward concept delivers – one hour of pregame yoga, followed by a two hour dance party with special performers, free snacks, and alcohol-free beverages intended to promote wellness and give a lifestyle alternative to people who love a party environment, but want to stay sober.
More about what it’s like to experience this event can be found in this article.
Sober Bars/Sober Socials
An concept that has started to spread, sober socials and juice bars are becoming extremely popular in and out of the alcohol-free community. Groups and spaces such as The Shine, Club Soda NYC, Juice Crawl, and The Softer Image offer comparable social scenes to those of a pioneering bar or gastropub, providing live music, entertainment, and delicious refreshments, with clarity taking the place of alcohol.
For these alcohol-free organizations, sobriety is synonymous with a healthy and clear mind, one that enjoys and experiences the world unhindered by chemical influence.
Booze-free Beverage Alternatives
Flavor, as well as feeling, has often been a missing component for those trying to stay away from drinking. Not wanting the side-effects but wanting to relax and taste something unique can put someone into quite the pickle.
Because of this, people have found ways to innovate in the alcohol-free drinks world. Not only are there alternatives to the unwinding effects of alcohol, there are flavor alternatives that blur the line between alcoholic and alcohol-free wine beverages.
Having a glass of wine or a beer to unwind at the end of the day doesn’t have to be the only way! In the sober community, teas and different root based drinks are a quick and easy alternative, providing a healthy option that enhances the night ahead instead of obscuring.
Some swear by Kava Tea – a popular drink (with flavor that leaves A LOT to be desired) with stress relieving properties that are no joke. An important side note: The FDA warns those with liver damage to stay away from Kava-based consumables to avoid quickening or worsening of the condition, so imbibe only if your doctor approves.
Alcohol-Free Wine and Beer
For those who absolutely adore the taste of wine and beer, you’re in luck. As the craft brewery, winery, and distillery crazes have taken off, so have the innovations in the booze-free beer and wine industries.
Beers like the Big Drop Chocolate Milk Stout and Nix Zero’s Premium Wheat Beer are being talked about by enthusiasts regardless of lifestyle choice. You can check out an awesome article on the top non-alcoholic beers here.
As for wines, the top-level distributers use processes like cold filtration to extract the alcohol from their wines. Techniques have advanced to the point that most people can’t taste the difference after the alcohol is removed. BeClink wines come from wineries all over Europe, and are crafted by professionals who ensure the preservation of flavor.
For those who are going alcohol-free, living a healthier lifestyle has either been a side-effect, or the impetus of their efforts. In either case, it is a major trend in the sober community to bring the healthy feelings of sobriety into all facets of life.
As discussed previously, when people stop drinking, and do for extended periods of time, they often report having more energy. Of course, this is partly because they are no longer feeling the side-effects of alcohol, but it’s more than that: When people stop drinking, it’s common for them to use that extra time, energy, and money to go to the gym and exercise. In the alcohol-free communities listed above, yoga, dancing, and other physical betterment is a part of the program, and is one of the most important aspects of the lifestyle.
Much like exercising, meditation is a part of alcohol-free communities. Places like MNDFL, NYC’s first boutique meditation studio, are providing chic sober hangouts and enlightenment courses, which operate alongside mass public meditations like The Big Quiet.
Meditation has become a hip, community activity that, according to addiction specialist Howard Goodman, imbues a sense of tranquility into everyday life, making the post-work cocktail unnecessary.
Here to Stay
Going alcohol-free has never been easier, as there are more people than ever in the sober ranks ready to support, and have fun with, each other. According to the National Institutes of Health, 35% of Americans don’t drink at all. This is important for people to know: Going-alcohol free can feel like a lonely experience at first, but the community is there and growing, and there is strength in numbers. The trends, activities, and resources for sober living will continue to change and grow as more people abandon alcohol, and as it does the community will innovate with it.