In a world where we’re quick to judge and put ourselves into categories, a new alcohol-related trend is taking hold which defies this tradition; The Sober Curious Movement.
Founder of Club Soda NYC and author of the book “Sober Curious”, Ruby Warrington, left her full time editor role at the UK Sunday Times Style Magazine partly due to the anxiety that came with her title and the pressure to drink. We chat to her about her story, her relationship with alcohol and her plans for the future…
Tell me a little about yourself
I’m a British writer and author based in Brooklyn, NY.
What led you to think differently about drinking? What’s your story?
The full story is in my book, Sober Curious. But ultimately, in my middle 30s I realised that alcohol was causing me more pain that it was bringing me pleasure. I’ve spent the past eight years undoing the conditioning (that booze is how we experience fun, excitement, connection, etc., and that not drinking makes a person ‘boring’, for example) that made it difficult for me to want to hear, acknowledge, and trust that this was actually the case—a process that has led to a radical revaluation of my relationship to alcohol, and a very different perspective on the role it plays in our society.
How would you describe ‘sober curious’?
Being Sober Curious means to literally question every impulse, invitation, and expectation, to drink, versus blindly going along with the dominant drinking culture. These questions may be along the lines of: “how does alcohol really make me feel? Why do I think I ‘need’ alcohol? Why is there sometimes so much pressure to drink? Are the hangovers really worth it for the highs?” But they will also be very individual to you.
How would you describe your relationship with alcohol now?
I am very respectful of alcohol, which is a highly potent psychoactive substance, the imbibing of which produces some extremely painful side-effects, and I now view it with a similar level of caution as I would heroin or cocaine (since it is also one of the 5 most addictive substances on the planet, along with these two, barbiturates, and nicotine). I’m also not “anti” alcohol, but having answered all my Sober Curious questions, I neither desire to drink nor do ever feel I “need” a drink.
What have you learnt about yourself since your relationship changed with alcohol?
I’ve accepted what I’ve always known about myself, but which I felt would make me less “popular” or “cool”—that I’m a pretty serious, intense, and sensitive human being, who prefers connecting with others 1-2-1, and who needs regular early nights and plenty of alone time to feel sane! I’ve realized I used alcohol to override most of these traits, and to play up my more lighthearted and extroverted qualities in an attempt to “fit in,” while avoiding looking at the more painful parts of my personal history.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
My husband, my closest family members and collaborators, and anybody brave enough to go against the grain and do things their own way.
Favourite book at the moment?
I’m reading and loving “Good Morning Destroyer of Men’s Souls” – a memoir on women, addiction, and love by Nina Renata Aron. It’s so beautifully written, and I’m interviewing Nina about co-dependency for the summer season of my Sober Curious podcast.
Favourite alcohol free drink to make at home?
I love Athletic Brewing alcohol free beers, Grüvi alcohol-free prosecco, and Lyres non-alcogolic spirits. I even made my own vegan version of an Amaretto Sour using Lyres Amaretti – subbing out the egg white for coconut milk.
Is there any advice you’d like to give to someone wanting to stop drinking as much?
Read my book! Haha. I would definitely recommend an extended break – 1-3 months is great – and rather than think about what you’re “denying yourself,” use this time focus on what you want to cultivate in your life as a result of not drinking and to appreciate how good it feels never to be hungover.
Any plans for the near future? What does the future look like for the Sober Curious movement?
My follow-up book, The Sober Curious Reset, will be out December 1 2020. After a year in which drinking has escalated as a way to “cope” with the stress of COVID, I predict many more people getting Sober Curious as we move forward into our “new normal.”
Get your hands on Ruby’s book “Sober Curious” HERE