“Dry January” or “Sober Curious?” You’re Not Alone

Since the early 2010’s, when the calendar changes, there are a trend of people on social media announcing a “Dry January.” From hashtags to reels, stories of success or quick relapse, these people let us in on their journey to remove alcohol consumption from their routine for the first month of the year.

Why Dry January?

The story behind Dry January is a public health initiative launched by Alcohol Change UK that began with only 4000 people. Their stories of success in eliminating or reducing alcohol became a fascination for many who watched them, encouraging more and more people to join each year. Fast forward to present day and this initiative now has formal partnerships in several countries including Switzerland, Germany, Norway, and France. Additionally, many other countries have active public-awareness campaigns and countless individuals have adopted it for themselves. From 2013 until now, engaging in Dry January has been tied to less or no drinking at all in January and reduced risky drinking throughout the rest of the year.

Sober Curious

In 2018, a woman named Ruby Warrington published a book titled, “Sober Curious.” Quickly growing in the the popular vernacular, this phrase does not just divide drinking into imbibe or abstain. Instead, it is a way of including a more holistic movement of those who are considering their drinking habits more mindfully, reducing risky drinking, or choosing a life of sobriety.

In a rare victory for substance use and public health, numerous studies have shown a decline in drinking rates, particularly among millennial and Gen Z generations. A larger percentage of individuals in these generations are identifying as “mindful drinkers” or complete abstainers as compared to those in the older Gen X and Baby Boomer generations.

Why is Drinking Declining?

There are several theories why drinking is declining in popularity. One suggestion is that people are simply becoming more careful about what substances they put in their bodies and alcohol is associated with too many poor outcomes to outweigh any benefits. Another suggestion is that being social without drinking is becoming easier and trendier, particularly in popular culture. A number of celebrities have publicly shared their own journeys toward reduced drinking or sobriety while others are becoming part of companies who are developing non-alcoholic drinks. In addition, stores that sell creative non-alcoholic drinks are increasing in popularity and alcohol-free social spaces have begun to open on both US coasts.

A risky drinking culture has had a negative impact on our culture for far too long. The personal and industry trends toward reduced drinking or sobriety are encouraging. As long as the alcohol-alternative market expands and the social outlets and social acceptance of decreased or non-existent drinking continues, we may continue to see reduced drinking rates for generations to come.

For some of the best mocktail recipes we recently cultivated for the blog, link here.

Originally published January 5, 2023. Updated January 17, 2024 by Anne Rulo, Author, Speaker, Therapist. FB/IG/Twitter @annemrulo 

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