Most people likely find statistics boring, with the exception of statisticians and university professors who wax nostalgically about quantitative methods, probability theory, hypothesis testing and variance analysis. I can see eyes glazing over as you read this.
I receive all kinds of statistical data regarding the drinking habits of Americans. Depending on the report, wine sales are up, wine sales are down or wine sales are static. Craft beer is outselling wine; craft beer sales are down; cannabis-infused drinks are on the rise in states where sales of such drinks are legal.
One of the more interesting drinking behaviors being addressed in these statistical reports is a growing trend of abstinence among millennials, many of whom are exploring the Sober Curious Movement.
Millennials are usually classified as those born between 1981 and 1996, ranging in age from 23 to 38 — generally the prime age range for alcohol consumption.
It was once thought millennials would pick up the torch from alcohol-consuming Gen Xers and baby boomers, but worldwide statistics show a decline in alcohol consumption among younger generations.
Unlike the Prohibitionists of previous centuries, the Sober Curious do not eschew all alcohol consumption. They advocate more mindful drinking.
Ruby Warrington, who coined the name of the movement in her book “Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol,” chronicles the integral part that alcohol played in her urban professional life.
Warrington began her self-exploration when she asked herself, “Would life be better without alcohol?” For Warrington it was, but this meant she was often the odd person out when she was with her drinking buddies. She had to learn to be comfortable being the odd person not consuming alcohol.
Being sober-curious does not mean total abstinence. It’s being more mindful about when, where and with what frequency one drinks.
This movement might be gaining traction among millennials just being they’re growing tired of the booze scene. Concern about wellness might also be a factor. Millennials are more aware of the adverse effects that excess alcohol consumption can have on their well-being.
Furthermore, drinking signature cocktails, craft beers and fine wine might be just too much of a financial drain on those saddled with student loan debt.
Social media may also play a role in their abstinence. It is no longer desirable to be pictured partially clothed in a drunken stupor on Facebook for friends, relatives and — most importantly — prospective employers to view.
For those wanting to pursue a sober-conscious life, there are alternatives other than water and iced tea. Most bars and restaurants now offer mocktails, which are cocktails made without alcohol. In larger cities, bars are springing up that serve no alcohol yet provide a bar-like social gathering place.
One of the fastest growing segments in the drinks industry is zero-alcohol drinks that mimic the real thing, including faux beers such as O’Doul’s or Heineken 0.0.
Warrington points out in her book that sober-curious is a wellness approach. It is not a recovery method for alcoholics or a replacement for organizations like AA. It is about recognizing drinking habits and acting on that understanding.
I have always been an advocate of moderate drinking, though “moderate” is subject to interpretation. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that if you do drink, women should not consume more than one drink per day and men no more than two drinks per day.
Size matters in these recommendations. For beer, the recommendation is a 12-ounce pour at 5 percent alcohol by volume. For wine, no more than 5 fluid ounces at 12 percent alcohol by volume. For hard liquor drinks, no more than 1.5 fluid ounces of 80 proof liquor.
As always, we should all drink responsibly and remain vigilantly sober-conscious.
Pat Kettles writes about food, wine and spirits. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.