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Drinking Habits

Why Gen Z Is Embracing the Sober Curious Movement

Published:
August 3, 2023
·
8 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
August 3, 2023
·
8 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
August 3, 2023
·
8 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
August 3, 2023
·
8 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Reframe Content Team
August 3, 2023
·
8 min read

Think back to your college days. If you’re a millennial or Gen Xer, you likely remember tailgate parties, overcrowded bars, sweaty frat parties with people doing keg stands and playing beer pong using red plastic cups, and late-night beer at a local pizza joint. Walk onto a college campus today, and things are a bit different. Sure, groups of students still roam the streets for Friday-night fun, and there’s still dancing and pizza. But there’s also a lot less booze.

What’s changed? As it turns out, many Gen Zers — people born between 1997 and 2012 — are increasingly leaning towards the sober curious movement. Why is this shift happening, and what factors are contributing to it?

Understanding the Sober Curious Movement

Now, why are our Gen Z friends increasingly hopping onto the sober curious bandwagon? Before we dive deep into the reasons, let's take a quick detour to understand what the movement is based on.

In short, the sober curious movement is all about exploring a lifestyle with less alcohol or none at all. However, the emphasis is on curiosity about going booze-free — not a promotion of abstinence. It’s about making a choice to not drink alcohol out of habit or social pressure, but instead intentionally deciding when and how much to consume, if at all.

Winds of Change

Gen Z is not just hopping on this trend for trendiness’ sake. There are significant sociological reasons behind their drive towards the sober curious lifestyle.

  • Increased mental health awareness. Gen Z shows a heightened awareness around mental health. A 2019 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association revealed that mental health was a significant stressor for over half of Gen Z adults. Given that alcohol has been linked to exacerbating psychological issues, many members of Gen Z choose to avoid it to maintain their mental wellness.
  • Holistic approach to health. Gen Z is leading the charge towards embracing a more holistic perspective of health, which encompasses both physical and mental wellness.With a wealth of information at their fingertips, they're well aware of the links between alcohol and various health problems, such as heart disease, liver disease, and certain types of cancer. This awareness nudges them towards healthier, alcohol-free lifestyles.
  • Social media influence. The sway of social media platforms cannot be underestimated. Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have an enormous impact on Gen Z. Fitness influencers, wellness routines, and healthy recipes that dominate them play a huge role in shaping Gen Z's perceptions about health and lifestyle. The rise of sober influencers is contributing to the allure of the movement.
  • Changing social norms. Gen Z is redefining social norms. The pressure to drink during social occasions is lessening, with more acceptance for people choosing not to drink. The shift towards virtual socializing during the pandemic has also contributed to this change, as the connection with others can now occur in contexts not dominated by alcohol.

Economic considerations. Lastly, the economic burden of regular alcohol consumption can't be overlooked. Many Gen Z folks are saving their money by opting for non-alcoholic options, contributing to the trend.

A Closer Look at the Benefits

It's not just about following trends or saving money, though. The sober curious movement can have tangible, science-backed benefits for your brain and body.

Alcohol inhibits the brain's communication pathways, affecting the way the brain works, which can lead to mood changes, difficulty thinking, and coordination issues. By reducing or eliminating alcohol, individuals can avoid these potential pitfalls.

Embracing the Sober Curious Movement

For anyone interested in joining Gen Z in the sober curious movement, here are some specific steps you can take:

  • Educate yourself. Learn about the effects of alcohol on your body and mind. Use reliable resources to gather information and understand the risks associated with alcohol consumption.
  • Start small. You don't need to stop drinking altogether, and you don’t need to begin immediately. Start by reducing the amount you drink or designate certain days as alcohol-free.
  • Find alternatives. Discover alcohol-free alternatives that you enjoy. These could be non-alcoholic cocktails, herbal teas, or even just seltzer with a slice of lemon.
  • Talk about it. Share your decision with friends and family. Their understanding and support can be instrumental in your journey.
  • Reflect on your experience. Note any changes in your health, mood, or overall well-being as you reduce your alcohol intake. Use these observations as motivation to continue.

Like a new fitness regimen or a shift to healthier eating, the sober curious movement is another step towards wellness. Gen Z seems to have caught on to this trend, and it's never too late for others to join in! So why not explore this lifestyle? You might find that a life with less alcohol is just as bubbly and bright, if not more so.

Think back to your college days. If you’re a millennial or Gen Xer, you likely remember tailgate parties, overcrowded bars, sweaty frat parties with people doing keg stands and playing beer pong using red plastic cups, and late-night beer at a local pizza joint. Walk onto a college campus today, and things are a bit different. Sure, groups of students still roam the streets for Friday-night fun, and there’s still dancing and pizza. But there’s also a lot less booze.

What’s changed? As it turns out, many Gen Zers — people born between 1997 and 2012 — are increasingly leaning towards the sober curious movement. Why is this shift happening, and what factors are contributing to it?

Understanding the Sober Curious Movement

Now, why are our Gen Z friends increasingly hopping onto the sober curious bandwagon? Before we dive deep into the reasons, let's take a quick detour to understand what the movement is based on.

In short, the sober curious movement is all about exploring a lifestyle with less alcohol or none at all. However, the emphasis is on curiosity about going booze-free — not a promotion of abstinence. It’s about making a choice to not drink alcohol out of habit or social pressure, but instead intentionally deciding when and how much to consume, if at all.

Winds of Change

Gen Z is not just hopping on this trend for trendiness’ sake. There are significant sociological reasons behind their drive towards the sober curious lifestyle.

  • Increased mental health awareness. Gen Z shows a heightened awareness around mental health. A 2019 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association revealed that mental health was a significant stressor for over half of Gen Z adults. Given that alcohol has been linked to exacerbating psychological issues, many members of Gen Z choose to avoid it to maintain their mental wellness.
  • Holistic approach to health. Gen Z is leading the charge towards embracing a more holistic perspective of health, which encompasses both physical and mental wellness.With a wealth of information at their fingertips, they're well aware of the links between alcohol and various health problems, such as heart disease, liver disease, and certain types of cancer. This awareness nudges them towards healthier, alcohol-free lifestyles.
  • Social media influence. The sway of social media platforms cannot be underestimated. Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have an enormous impact on Gen Z. Fitness influencers, wellness routines, and healthy recipes that dominate them play a huge role in shaping Gen Z's perceptions about health and lifestyle. The rise of sober influencers is contributing to the allure of the movement.
  • Changing social norms. Gen Z is redefining social norms. The pressure to drink during social occasions is lessening, with more acceptance for people choosing not to drink. The shift towards virtual socializing during the pandemic has also contributed to this change, as the connection with others can now occur in contexts not dominated by alcohol.

Economic considerations. Lastly, the economic burden of regular alcohol consumption can't be overlooked. Many Gen Z folks are saving their money by opting for non-alcoholic options, contributing to the trend.

A Closer Look at the Benefits

It's not just about following trends or saving money, though. The sober curious movement can have tangible, science-backed benefits for your brain and body.

Alcohol inhibits the brain's communication pathways, affecting the way the brain works, which can lead to mood changes, difficulty thinking, and coordination issues. By reducing or eliminating alcohol, individuals can avoid these potential pitfalls.

Embracing the Sober Curious Movement

For anyone interested in joining Gen Z in the sober curious movement, here are some specific steps you can take:

  • Educate yourself. Learn about the effects of alcohol on your body and mind. Use reliable resources to gather information and understand the risks associated with alcohol consumption.
  • Start small. You don't need to stop drinking altogether, and you don’t need to begin immediately. Start by reducing the amount you drink or designate certain days as alcohol-free.
  • Find alternatives. Discover alcohol-free alternatives that you enjoy. These could be non-alcoholic cocktails, herbal teas, or even just seltzer with a slice of lemon.
  • Talk about it. Share your decision with friends and family. Their understanding and support can be instrumental in your journey.
  • Reflect on your experience. Note any changes in your health, mood, or overall well-being as you reduce your alcohol intake. Use these observations as motivation to continue.

Like a new fitness regimen or a shift to healthier eating, the sober curious movement is another step towards wellness. Gen Z seems to have caught on to this trend, and it's never too late for others to join in! So why not explore this lifestyle? You might find that a life with less alcohol is just as bubbly and bright, if not more so.

Try Out the Sober Curious Movement for Yourself With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet hundreds of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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