The Internet Generation. Generation Y. Millennials. Ever since the turn of the century, millennials have been the talk of the town, with older generations constantly wondering how and why millennials seem to be ruining everything. Articles like 5 Industries Millennials Are Killing (And Why), Millennials Are Snubbing Diamonds, and 6 Reasons Why More Millennials Aren’t Buying Homes roam the Internet, making us imagine this is the worst generation, possibly ever.
However, millennials tend to get a bad rep, sometimes at no fault of their own. As with any young generation, they simply started doing things… differently than those before them. Millennials have faced more economic, social and societal challenges than most generations before them, and as the Internet Generation, have used much of technology to learn how to respond differently. And what’s one thing in particular millennials are doing differently? Well, they’re going alcohol-free.
You read that right. Despite what some may portray or believe, the millennial generation has actually slowed down, or even stopped altogether, the consumption of alcohol; in fact, in comparison to their parents and grandparents before them, they drink remarkably less. In a U.K. report from the Office for National Statistics in 2015, it revealed the number of under-25ers opting for total abstinence from alcohol had leapt up 40 percent in just eight years, with young people overtaking the elderly as the most sober generation. Another report by the Wiley Online Library in 2016 found that the percentage of U.S. teens who have tried alcohol has plummeted since 1976, with the abrupt decrease in the past decade.
Yes, while older generations may have considered drinking cool, the millennials are finding more and more reasons to live an alcohol-free lifestyle. What are some of the reasons? Let’s look into the “why” behind millennials going alcohol-free.
Of course, one of the largest reasons millennials are choosing to abstain is pretty simple: money. The fact is, alcohol can be expensive, and going out with a purpose to drink can quickly add up. When considering the cost of buying drinks, tipping and paying for a ride home, a night out with friends can quickly add up to anywhere from $50-$100. Spend that once a week and millennials are looking at a very stretched budget.
According to Dr. Monya De, an internist in Los Angeles, “Millennials are saddled with debt and living in apartments that might cost 60% of their monthly salary, while 20 years ago, the apartment would have cost 30% of their salary.” The fact is the millennial generation grew up facing one of the toughest economies in U.S. history, and with low salaries and high costs of living, drinking alcohol simply isn’t a priority in their budgets.
Millennials also tend to place a higher value on their health than other generations have in the past. Having grown up watching Generation X and the Baby Boomers, millennials have had first-hand exposure to some of the long-term consequences alcohol can have on the body. And with the rising emphasis on health in society, millennials have grown up with a focus on consuming sustainable, organic and healthy options—which does not tend to include alcohol.
Justin Faerman, co-founder of The Flow Consciousness Institute, said, “No longer relying on alcohol as a crutch has lead to a profoundly deep relationship with my body. Nourishing myself with a piece of chocolate or with superfoods produces a noticeable mood lift that you would just never be able to notice if you are used to the extreme effects of alcohol and drugs.” As the millennial generation grows into adulthood, the idea of being “healthy” has never been cooler. Millennials focus on eating well, exercising and avoiding dangerous health activities, such as drinking, smoking or drugs.
Finally, as Jules Schroeder with Forbes said, millennials desire connection. Living alcohol-free allows millennials to experience a heightened level of relationships, living in alignment with their values and accessing a deeper grasp on life. Alcohol tends to numb things—thoughts, relationships and even entire lives. Going without alcohol gives millennials the opportunity to truly connect with their own bodies, other friends and family and even the Earth. Millennials have begun to discover the major benefits of going alcohol-free and are utilizing these benefits in their everyday lives.
Like any generation, millennials have their struggles, but they have their advantages too. One such advantage is taking steps toward living a life with less alcohol, or completely alcohol-free. Whether it’s for financial, health or personal reasons, millennials are drawing back on alcohol-consumption, and reaping the benefits from it.