Is being sober-curious the new ‘That Girl’ trend?

Are we all ditching the drink for 2023?

At the start of every year those partaking in ‘Dry January’ switch out their beer and wine for 0 per cent and ‘Nosecco’. We’re all well aware of the physical and mental dangers of drinking to excess and yet, typically, once February hits everyone’s back on the booze.

But this year feels different. Suddenly my TikTok fyp is filled with mocktail tutorials and glamorous influencers talking about being ‘sober curious.’ It’s not just online either, at my bartending job I’ve noticed an influx of customers ordering from the alcohol-free menu this year, often with an aside to their friend of, ‘I’m trying to cut down on the booze.’

So why is everyone jumping on the sobriety train all of a sudden?

Being sober has always been slightly taboo due to the heavy implications of alcoholism. If you say you’re not drinking at a party you’re usually met with countless questions about why not and people insisting ‘go on, just have one.’ Because of this, sobriety has been something that is kept hidden and under wraps, usually associated with middle-aged mothers on a health kick and red-faced men with beer bellies.

However, as knowledge about the negative effects of alcohol has increased (and one too many drunk texts sent to exes) so has the number of young, healthy people choosing to cut back on the booze. But it’s not health-obsessed hippies as you might expect, it’s influencers, socialites and IT-Girls who are rebranding sobriety with brightly coloured mocktails and suggestions of non-alcoholic drinks that still relax you such as CBD drinks and Kava, a trendy new non-alcoholic beverage that claims to produce a feeling of relaxation among those who drink it.

In many ways, being sober curious could be seen as a continuation of the clean-girl trend since it’s unlikely that the girlies who are waking up at 6am for pilates and drinking green juice are getting trashed on a Friday evening. I must admit I was intrigued by this movement. After all, the allure of hangover free weekends and more money in my bank account is endlessly tempting. Are we turning our backs on booze in an attempt to create some semblance of order in our lives?

As a student, I am part of one of the largest demographics of binge drinkers. My friends and I often joke about at what age getting black-out drunk every week becomes socially unacceptable. Although I’ve never considered my friends and me to have alcohol problems, it does raise the question of why drinking to excess is so much more socially acceptable as students than adults.

Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems reports that excess drinking in your early twenties can have detrimental effects on your brain’s development and on the development of the prefrontal cortex.

I spoke to our very own Tab editor Ellie Ring who has been sober for four years to discover what life is like as a sober uni student.

“At first I thought I was lucky because I only needed two drinks to get drunk!” Ellie confessed, “I soon realised that the chronic hangovers and hangxiety I would get the next morning just weren’t worth the fun of a night out. My heart would be racing and I would feel wretched after just two drinks.”

She explains that she doesn’t miss alcohol at all or feel as though she’s missing out. “I feel like I can match people’s levels when I’m going out even when sober.”

She also highlights what she believes is the secret to being a sober student, having supportive friends, “My flatmates don’t really drink much anyway” she explains. “I can see how going sober would impact a person significantly if they were a heavy drinker but, thanks to my friends, it really hasn’t been too challenging for me.”

Although I don’t necessarily think I’ll be jumping on the sober-curious trend anytime soon, I’m definitely open to making more conscious choices when it comes to alcohol. When hosting galantines drinks for my friends last month I found myself with a bad cold and, although I felt well enough to host, I decided that drinking would be a bad idea.

Rather than making a cup of tea and feeling sorry for myself whilst my friends sipped the pink cocktails I’d made them, I concocted the first mocktail I’d had since I was fourteen. I sipped my non-alcoholic fuchsia drink from a champagne coupe filled with freeze dried raspberries and felt just as good as I would have done had I added gin to my drink, well nearly.

If you need resources to cut down on your alcohol intake the NHS has alcohol advice, as does Drinkaware.

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