SoberSeptember, OcSober, DryJanuary or even going #StraightEdge (no stimulants at all!) – there’s no end to the sober bandwagons you can jump on. Whether it’s for health and fitness reasons, a way to detox and reset or manage your tolerance levels, many people are opting to ditch the booze and embrace a teetotalling lifestyle. Here’s what you need to know about having a sober festive season.
The Sober Trend
According to Janet Gourand, founder of Tribe Sober, a South African membership programme helping people change their relationship with alcohol, they have seen more people wanting to decrease their consumption of alcohol or cut alcohol out completely lately.
And women are leading the charge. Gourand says that 80% of those in Tribe Sober are women with most of the women being 40+ but despite that, there is still a trend for younger women to drink less. Plus, local non-alcoholic G&T brand The Duchess reported that 74% of its buyers are women between 18 and 34 years old.
The truth is many millennials are driving a huge trend towards cutting booze completely – or never starting. Hashtags like #SoberSaturday and #SoberLife (over two million tags on Insta) are being seen more and more and form part of what has been dubbed the “sober curious” movement. The number of alcohol drinkers in the world has decreased by nearly five percent since 2000, according to reports by the World Health Organisation.
In fact, 49% of readers said they would buy non-alcoholic beers or cider (up from 34% when we asked you in 2019), while 31% said they would be choosing Castle Free over Castle Lite this festive season. 47% of readers said if they were offered non-alcoholic wines – that actually taste good – they’d try it.
READ MORE: Mindful Drinking: How More And More People Are Becoming ‘Sober Curious’
Reasons To Have A Sober Festive Season
According to Gourand, the stress and the “working from home” impact of the pandemic have created more dependence on alcohol. “People who would only use alcohol for ‘socialising’ have now discovered that they enjoy drinking alone and their drinking has become more about self-medicating their anxiety than having fun,” she says.
This has been dubbed “Grey Area” drinking and it has seen an increase since the pandemic. Healthline describes “grey area” drinking as the realm between healthy levels of alcohol consumption and a diagnosed alcohol use disorder.
It’s no secret that South Africa is known as a drinking nation, with 2.1% of total household spending in South Africa going to beer, according to Stats SA (only 1.5% is going to veggies). And the festive season is a period that sees a dramatic increase in consumption. But many people, even South Africans, are taking the downsides of drinking alcohol more seriously.
“People are becoming aware that drinking more than a bottle and a half of wine a week puts their mental and physical health at risk. The wellness trend is resulting in more people eating organic, doing yoga and meditation and they are realising that drinking alcohol doesn’t really fit in with this lifestyle,” explains Gourand.
READ MORE: 17 Super-Stylish Stocking Fillers & Gifts Under R150 – That Aren’t Socks
The Sober Life
“The smart people are getting sober curious. The wine industry has been marketing directly to women for the last 25 years – and they have been stunningly successful. Many women cannot imagine having fun or socialising without it. As many women get older the fun turns to self-medication and drinking alone,” says Gourand.
If you want to change your relationship with alcohol, finding your tribe helps. “Community is a big part of recovery,” says Gourand. In his TED Talk, writer and journalist Johann Hari explains the science behind the fact that connection is the opposite of addiction.
“There is so much shame around drinking (especially for women) that joining a community of others with the same issue is a huge relief and we feel less alone. We learn so much from hearing about other people’s experiences and as we progress in our alcohol-free journey we are able to inspire others,” explains Gourand.
“Even if people are just “sober curious” or not even sure that they want to make a change they can join a tribe, listen and learn and it will help them decide which direction to take,” she says.
READ MORE: The Top Gifts WH Team Want Under The Tree This Season
Tips For Going Sober
Janet Gourand has been sober since 2015, leading her tribe at Tribe Sober and inspiring people to have an alcohol-free life. These are three tips for people who are sober curious or looking to cut down their alcohol consumption:
1) “Take a look at your life”
“What would it look like without alcohol in it? If all your social activities involve drinking then it’s time for a change. The first step is to increase your awareness – keep a drinks diary and note your consumption. Are you drinking more than the low-risk limit of a bottle and a half of wine a week?”
2) “Take an alcohol-free challenge – at least a month.”
“If you can get through it easily then you are probably fine. If not (or if you can’t even contemplate taking a break) then it’s time to make some changes. Join a group like Tribe Sober to connect with others who are looking to quit drinking and to learn to thrive in their alcohol-free lives.”
3) “Start discovering the vast choice of alcohol-free drinks.”
“Try everything and you will find your go-to alcohol-free choice. Integrate that into your lifestyle. Alternate it with alcoholic drinks when you go out and make sure you have at least 4 alcohol-free days a week.”
The Best Alcohol-Free Drinks For Adults
Designated driver, watching your calorie intake, fitness stole your alcohol tolerance or realising it might be time to cut back? Going booze-free is a health trend that celebs, brands and just about everyone else is getting behind!
Below you’ll find the best wine, gin, beer and cider 0.0 versions. With half the calories and no need for a stash of painkillers in your bedside drawer, your sober summer is sorted!
If you like fruity beer, try Bavaria 0.0% Pomegranate.
If you like light lagers or Pilsners, try Beck’s Blue.
If you like Castle, or lagers in general, try Castle Free Alcohol-Free Lager.
If you like IPA, try Devil’s Peak Zero to Hero.
If you like Weiss beer, try Erdinger Alkoholfrei.
If you’re a Heineken gal, try Heineken 0.0.
If you like an aperitif, try Babylonstoren BitterLekker.
If you like gin and tonic, try The Duchess Virgin Gin & Tonic.
If you like gin cocktails, try Seedlip Garden 108.
If you like red wine, try Van Loveren Radiant Red Almost Zero % Alcohol.
If you like white wine, try Natura De-Alcoholised Classic White.
If you like bubbly, try Lautus De-Alcoholised Sparkling.
If you like cider, try Savanna Non-Alcoholic Lemon.
If you like a full-bodied beer, try Non-Alcoholic Super Bock 0.0%.
If you like mocktails, try Fehmz Mocktails in various flavours.