How to stay sober-curious beyond Dry January

PHILADELPHIA — Gone are the days of simple virgin cocktails amounting to little more than gussied up juice. For the last few years, the hospitality industry has embraced a new era of zero-proof libations where bartenders play with sometimes-costly ingredients and fermentation to appease sober-curious drinkers.

The sober-curious movement, where people reevaluate their relationship with alcohol and embrace a booze-free lifestyle (or a relaxed version of it), has led to a 20.6% growth between August 2021 and 2022 of nonalcoholic drink sales, NielsenIQ reported in October.

Dry January, the month dedicated to sobriety, has been a helpful push for those looking to reduce their alcohol consumption, which in part has driven development and sales of these products.

Sustaining mindful drinking beyond the month can be a challenge for some. The Inquirer spoke to Davis and Amanda E. White, the founder of Therapy for Women Center and author of “Not Drinking Tonight” (her second book, “Not Drinking Tonight: The Workbook” came out Jan. 10) on how changing your mindset and having more options can help you stay booze-free.




How to stay sober curious

Ask yourself: What leads me to drink?

“Sometimes people go back to drinking without even realizing why they started again,” White said. “This is likely because they are not familiar with their triggers or reasons that they drink — maybe it’s feeling awkward at a party or a warm day that makes you crave a margarita. Learn your triggers and come up with a plan for how you will combat them.”

Davis also suggests removing alcohol from your house to cut down on temptation and make it harder to drink. And replace your drink of choice with an equally flavorful and fun zero-proof drink — this is a good opportunity to try making a cocktail at home with fresh ingredients and alcohol-free products.

What’s your motivation?

Making a list of benefits that you experience from sobriety can help you identify why you decided to take on the Dry January challenge. “If you feel yourself wanting a drink, check this list so you can reconnect with your purpose,” White said. Journaling is a good way to track your progress, according to Davis. Write down your successes and struggles throughout the month to see how “your mood and physical being improves.”

Don’t let others hold you back

“Many times, the fear of what people will say is worse in our heads than reality,” White said.

You don’t need to explain why you aren’t drinking. Rather than making up elaborate excuses when asked, learn to set boundaries. “Keep it simple — say, ‘I’m not drinking tonight’ or ‘I’m not drinking right now,’ and change the subject,” she said.

Share the positives of your Dry January experience and then offer your plan to continue experimenting to see how this lifestyle fits for you. And remember, you don’t need to make any public commitments.

Find a support system

“Try to recruit friends or family to join you on your quest for Dry January or a sober-curious life,” said Davis, who also runs the Facebook support group Soulbriety Society. Apps like Reframe and Tempest or community groups like Join Soberish and This Naked Mind offer community chatting, lessons, coaches, and more.