Being "Sober Curious" Helps Some Explore Relationship With Alcohol

By Beth Leipholtz 01/30/19

“Being sober curious is about ­questioning every impulse or expectation to drink and using the answers to inform whether or not you actually drink,” says the author who coined the term.

sober curious person exploring his relationship with alcohol

Make room, Dry January—there’s another sobriety exploration method in town. 

In recent months, the term “sober curious” has become more prominent. Rather than abstaining completely from alcohol, those who are sober curious may choose to take a break from drinking and give some thought to their relationship with alcohol. 

The concept, according to Time, was coined by Ruby Warrington and is the title of her new book as well. 

In the book, Warrington explores the idea of reexamining one’s relationship with alcohol. Time reports that while Warrington never struggled with substance use disorder, she did use alcohol to be more at ease in social situations and to cope with or cover her feelings. 

“Being sober curious is about ­questioning every impulse or expectation to drink and using the answers to inform whether or not you actually drink,” Warrington tells Cosmopolitan

While Warrington doesn’t necessarily press the idea that alcohol should be cut out of one’s life forever, she does think there are benefits to stepping back from it. She says, according to Time, that rather than squeeze out confidence from alcohol, it can come from healthier methods, like positive affirmations and power poses. 

In addition to helping her mentally, Warrington tells Cosmopolitan that cutting down alcohol helped her feel better physically. “My anxiety levels were lower. I woke up fresh. I had so much more energy,” she said.

In the book, Warrington also addresses the idea of FOMA, or “fear of missing alcohol.” She provides some advice to get around this fear, such as taking part in new hobbies or ditching dinner plans and going out for brunch instead. 

Psychotherapist Alison Stone tells Bustle that being “sober curious” isn’t restrictive and allows people to make decisions based on their feelings. 

“Identifying as sober curious prevents us from falling into a black and white way of thinking, feeling, and behaving,” she said. “It can help us better understand our relationship with alcohol, too—when do we drink more than we intended to? Are we drinking because we want to, or because we feel we need to? Having curiosity opens up the possibilities to better understand ourselves and our motives for doing things.”

Stone adds that when something in one’s life is restricted or completely off limits, it may just make that person want it more. In that way, being sober curious is beneficial. “That is partially due to the psychological impact of making an extreme decision—there are often parts of us that want to do the exact opposite of that decision,” Stone stated. 

But while being sober curious may work for some, others may need to stick to complete abstinence from alcohol. 

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.