What’s Behind the Elective-Sobriety Trend
An interesting (and long) read – especially for anyone feeling “sober curious” & a quick mention for Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Drinking Programme. Extract:
“Why people are giving up drinking, even when they don’t have a problem
On a warmer-than-average Thursday evening in February, 40 women gathered in Philadelphia’s industrial-chic Front Street Cafe for happy hour — but instead of ordering rosé or craft beer, they sipped artisanal mocktails and locally brewed kombucha. Billed as an event for “sober, sober-sometimes, or sober-curious women,” the first 15 minutes or so were stilted. People were nervous, conversations got stuck in small talk mode, and nobody could order a round of shots to fast-track things to insta-party. But before too long, the room was buzzing with conversation and laughter. And yet, nobody was getting buzzed. “I used to think I lost my social anxiety after I had the first drink,” says Joy Manning, one of the party’s co-hosts. “Now I realize, the first 15 minutes of anything is just awkward. Once I adjust to the environment and start chatting with someone, I relax. And it’s amazing to see that happen across a whole room of people who aren’t drinking. We’ve been giving alcohol a power it doesn’t really have.”
Manning, who is also a writer and the deputy editor of Edible Communities, runs the Instagram feed @betterwithoutbooze and has been sober since embarking on a Dry January experiment in 2017. “I was mostly a picture-perfect moderate drinker before that,” she says. “But I have alcoholism in my family, and I didn’t like how much work it was to stay in the moderate camp. It took a lot of mental energy and deprivation.” She would start obsessing as soon as she got to a restaurant: “If there was a wait for the table, everyone would want to get a drink at the bar. So do I get water at the bar so I can have wine with dinner? Or a cocktail now, but then everyone will think it’s weird if I don’t drink at the table? I didn’t even realize how exhausting that mental chatter was until I stopped.”….
For the most part, alcohol addiction experts welcome the sobriety experiment trend. “It can rarely hurt to take a break from anything you do habitually, just to see,” says Lisa DuBreuil, a social worker with a focus on addiction and eating disorder patients at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “Alcohol affects our mood, impacts our cognitive function, and has a big impact on our body. So it can be a very good thing, as long as you’re approaching this with a sense of curiosity and asking, ‘What would I feel like, after a few weeks?’”…
As an addiction therapist who also works with eating disorder patients, DuBreuil does have one big concern about sobriety experiments: that they’re often, actually, diets. When sobriety is part of a cleanse or clean eating plan, the focus tends to shift from how abstaining makes you feel to whether it makes you lose weight. “It gives me pause when people tie their drinking to the size of their bodies,” she says.
Weight loss is indeed a popular motivation for full-on or partial sobriety: John Dicey, CEO of Allen Carr’s Easyway program, which offers seminars and coaching to help people quit alcohol, smoking, and other habits, says that some 30% to 40% of people who sign up for the live seminars are doing it for lifestyle reasons, like getting in shape before their wedding. “We’re definitely seeing the Kate Moss Effect; people are really struck by how different she looks since she stopped drinking and they want a bit of that.””
From the desk of John Dicey, Global CEO & Senior Therapist, Allen Carr’s Easyway