Sober Curiosity in “Dry January” – How is it Helping?

Published on January 1, 2020
Mountainside Canaan Aerial Shot

Canaan, CT – More people are beginning to recognize that they can be their best selves sans alcohol. As consumers reach for low- and no-alcohol beverages, the sober curious movement is anticipated to continue far beyond “Dry January.” While sober curiosity is not feasible for everyone, for moderate drinkers, it is a step in the right direction toward a healthier lifestyle.

Sober curiosity has emerged with the popularization of Dry January, a health trend that encourages people to remain sober for 31 days. However, according to a 2019 survey by the IWSR, a beverage market analysis company, 52 percent of Americans are attempting to lower their alcohol consumption year-round.

The health benefits of refraining from drinking have been widely touted, but the rise of sober curiosity has coincided with a burgeoning cultural embrace of holistic wellness. In addition to the physical and mental health perks of a sober lifestyle, another benefit is the decreased risk of developing addiction – and facing all of the consequences associated with it.

Michael Ahearn, Recovery Coach at Mountainside treatment center, understands the dangers of overindulging because of his personal experiences overcoming addiction. “Alcohol can affect every major organ system in the body and can cause serious health concerns, like inflammation of the liver or pancreas and brain cell damage,” says Ahearn. “It can make someone act out in a way that is detrimental to their health. If someone is drunk and makes bad decisions, they may find themselves disconnected from their surroundings and unwelcome in their friend circles, which can have a lasting effect on their self-esteem.”

Those recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction understand that sobriety is not just about reducing their alcohol intake but rather involves total abstinence. Substance use disorders change the brain’s chemical makeup, making it extremely difficult for addicted people to consume even small amounts of alcohol in moderation. Note: people in active addiction should consult with a medical professional before abruptly halting their drinking, as the withdrawal symptoms that may arise during the detox process can be life-threatening.

Still, the sober curious movement – while not intended for those who have struggled with addiction – has fostered awareness and empathy for people in recovery.

“People are learning more about what sobriety is, and it goes way beyond just abstaining from substances,” Ahearn continues. “The biggest positive is that people who have tried sobriety proactively on their own have become more allied with those who choose sobriety out of necessity.”