Do you want to join the sober curious and cut back on drinking alcohol after lockdown? Do you feel that you have been drinking too much alcohol maybe, thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic? What will you do with your life after lockdown?
Many drinkers see through themselves one day when it dawns on them that they have a problem. With alcohol. Yes, they drink too much. And especially since 2020. The Year of the Virus.
If you happen to be one of these drinkers, you may not want to be branded as an alcoholic, or an addict. It is easier to admit that you have a problem and need to slow down your drinking a bit. And a good way to do this is to look towards the sober curious trends and cut back on drinking alcohol after lockdown.
Covid took our Freedom, Wine Imprisoned Us
The world entered an abnormal place in 2020 when Covid 19 took over our freedom. Many people reached for the wine or whiskey bottle. This all happened just after Ruby Warrington patented the phrase “sober curious.” She had started to feel the daily negative effects of her drinking: hangovers, anxiety, less efficiency and lowered self-worth.
When she took a break from drinking, the hangovers vanished, the anxiety improved, she became more efficient and her self-worth corrected itself. She believes in the 100-day challenge because it takes 90 days to clear every trace of alcohol from your system. Once the detox has been done, the brain has already shifted. Alcohol damages the brain and affects dopamine levels. But the brain can heal.
The brain needs a chance to heal. The sober curious type of drinker could be someone who can moderate. I am one of those sceptics who do not believe in moderation. For anyone who already has a problem with alcohol. The first step is to explore what the sober curious trend is and if it gels with moderation. Check out this podcast and other blogs on Tribe Sober for insights.
Moderation for the Sober Curious
Ruby got her moderation right. She makes a concerted effort to avoid situations where the alcohol is the attraction at the event. She chooses events where alcohol is not an issue: books, yoga, art, discussions, and outdoor activities. People in such groups have a passion for the subject in that group: hiking, nature, yoga, exercise, health and creativity. Not the alcohol, which is the antithesis of all these things, right?
The warning around stopping drinking if you are sober curious goes like this: be careful when you stop drinking cold turkey. Some drinkers need to wean themselves off the booze or they face awful side effects related to the detoxing as the alcohol leaves their system.
Sam Thomas suffered severe withdrawal symptoms when he decided to cut back on alcohol.
It may seem far-fetched to say I didn’t know that I was alcohol dependent until I tried to stop drinking. While I was aware I was drinking every night, I certainly didn’t think my consumption was enough to be considered alcohol dependent. As far as I was concerned, I probably ought to have a break from wine. So that’s exactly what I decided to do, by taking an impromptu period of abstinence.
But suddenly he was in an ambulance, being rushed to hospital. It was only after many medical questions that the doctors hit on his drinking habits. The term ‘alcohol dependent’ made him sit up and take note. He needed a complete detox to save himself! He had to acknowledge that he had caused his own illness. Sam is lucky that he woke up and realised these things. He became sober curious after a roller coaster ride of more drinking and more detoxing until one day the penny dropped.
Alcohol Dependence can Change
His story is similar to many of ours: “What started as one to two glasses of wine at the weekend had become more than three bottles per night while working at home into the early hours. Looking back, I should’ve seen my drinking had steadily increased over time. But because I was functioning, albeit in a dysfunctional way, I had no reason to think my drinking had become a problem.”
Sam went through hell trying to get sober. His end realisation? He could not do it alone and he could not use will power alone. He needed help and he needed a tribe.
I am personally very wary of the sober curious movement. In my view, it allows the drinker a window to keep on drinking. Ruby admits that the very thought of stopping alcohol is daunting in the very least for her. Her sober curious movement allows drinkers the opportunity to still drink, in moderation, responsibly. So she says.
I get this feeling that if anyone has to stop drinking, or take a break from drinking, they have a problem. This could be that they are misusing alcohol, abusing alcohol or alcohol dependent. Never alcoholic, nudge, nudge, wink, wink…
Alcoholic or Lover of Wine?
I decided to look up synonyms for ‘alcoholic’ and these words came up: carouser, tosspot, wine-bibber, debauchee, dipsomaniac, boozer, barfly, sponge! Do you think that you are one of these? Ha, certainly not!
If you want to moderate successfully, join the sober curious movement and cut back on your drinking after lockdown. During the lockdown in many countries this past year, it appears that many people started to drink more alcohol. Their feelings of panic, uselessness and despair set in. Being trapped indoors for days on end is soul-destroying. Losing one’s work and livelihood is even worse.
Children experienced major depression for the first time in their short lives and adults with depression simply got worse. Drinkers drank more and non-drinkers considered flirting with alcohol. The drinking, however, was done alone. There were no social occasions as these were banned.
As lockdowns loosen up and people start to get out and about again, their approach to life, health and drinking may have changed. I am aware of a surge in outdoor exercise as a backlash to the lockdown. More hiking, personal training and running. More triathlon contenders and fewer gym bunnies. Something is right with the world again!
Post-Covid Drinking Predictions
I came across this summary on Euromonitor International: “The sharp reduction in consumption occasions, the wholesale closure of on-trade establishments around the world, and the pronounced and prolonged recession that will follow the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have completely changed the operating landscape for alcoholic drinks.”
They predict specific changes to drinking in future: social venues have suffered immense damage and many have been liquidated and gone bankrupt. Those which do survive and open will follow social distancing etiquettes which they call the “new normal”.
Home pubs and celebrations are in now – stocking personal bars and fridges for braais and drinking sessions at home. And no one has money for craft drinks anymore – the beers, the gins and the new spirits made from botanicals – these are all luxuries!
And the cherry on top? Alcohol-free (AF) drinks are increasingly popular after people were forced to drink them in many countries like South Africa.
For the sober curious, the time is ripe. Be curious about being sober. Cut back on your drinking and find a new tribe. Stock your home pub with mocktail ingredients and alcohol-free drinks. Invite friends around for card evenings, soup evenings and board games. Pack a coffee and hike somewhere new every weekend. I am in!