Is Alcohol-Free Living Finally Becoming Cool?

Is Alcohol-Free Living Finally Becoming Cool?

At the height of my drinking career, I couldn’t think of anything less cool than being sober.
.

You can hardly blame me – back then, sobriety had a serious image problem. It was stereotyped as dull and boring. It sounded like a punishment for bad behaviour or something you’d only do if you really, really had to.

Thankfully, a lot’s changed in the past few years. Slowly but surely, sobriety has become more mainstream. It’s not the big deal it used to be. And (dare I actually say this?) I think alcohol-free living is starting to become a little bit cool.

Choosing not to pour a mind-altering, toxic substance down your neck doesn’t make you weird, it makes you wise (and right on trend). Here’s the evidence…

 


The number of teetotallers is rising

Official figures show that almost half of people in Britain are shunning a regular drink and 21% of adults don’t drink alcohol at all. Perhaps surprisingly, young people are particularly likely not to drink – nowadays 27% of 16-24 year olds are completely teetotal. If this is happening in boozy old Britain, what’s going on elsewhere?

 

Celebrities are leading the way

Just a few months ago I wrote this article about the staggering number of celebrities who don’t drink, and already I need to update it. I missed Zoe Ball, Anna Wintour and Jennifer Hudson off the list, plus Brad Pitt has recently revealed he no longer drinks. There’s no escaping it: celebrity land is riddled with sober people. And no, they’re not all in and out of rehab. Many of them simply choose not to drink because it makes life easier. (Or maybe it’s because alcohol-free living makes you more focused and productive, which increases your chance of being successful in a competitive industry.)

 

Big brands are investing in the alcohol-free market

Heineken recently announced the launch of an alcohol-free version of its flagship lager. Last year Diageo, the world’s largest producer of spirits, made its first investment in a non-alcoholic drinks company; Diageo now owns a stake in Seedlip, an excellent alcohol-free gin replacement. Why are big, profit-driven companies bothering to do this? Because the global alcoholic drinks market is declining.

 

Alcohol-free wines and beers are getting really good

Yes, they’ve had a bad rap over the years – often accused of being bland, tasteless or at worst, downright unpalatable. But recently things have changed a lot. There’s been an explosion in the number of great tasting, well-crafted alcohol-free drinks and most of it has been in response to consumer demand. (Check out this amazing alcohol-free drinks festival happening in London in August.)

 

Clean living is a big thing

Those yogi Instagram celebrities with millions of followers aren’t drinking beer, they’re guzzling green juice. It’s never been cooler to live mindfully, eat proper food, exercise and take care of your mental health. If you’re into vibrant living, it doesn’t make sense to spend your evenings filling up on boozy toxins. I think this clean-living wellness trend is a big part of why we’re drinking less.  

 

Sobriety no longer means AA

If you want some help and support to stop drinking, you don’t have to go to meetings and talk to a bunch of strangers, unless you want to. Nowadays, AA isn’t your only option. There are lots and lots of online resources available, including my own fabulous coaching services 🙂 The more choices we have, the better off we are, and the more normal not drinking becomes. 

 

There are loads of booze-free events!

Personally, I still quite like hanging out in a nice pub or bar, but if you’d prefer to socialise away from booze then you’re spoilt for choice. Bars like Redemption don’t serve any alcohol at all. In Manchester, where I lived for a long time, there are tea rooms that stay open all evening. My local gym has a spin class at 6.30pm on a Friday (and it’s nearly always overbooked). In London you can do yoga on Saturday nights. New York has some crazy sounding booze-free parties. And if you want to meet sober people in your area, have a look on here.

 

Conclusion

I’m not going to pretend that boozy bars should be worried about losing their ‘happy hours’ customers just yet. But you can’t deny that something is starting to shift. We are beginning to move away from the outdated idea that alcohol is essential in order to enjoy a happy and fulfilling life. Great things take time, and it took several decades for smoking to switch from being a trendy, desirable habit to a socially unacceptable one. It will take a while for the same thing to happen with booze, but I’m confident it will happen, eventually. What do you think?

 

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54 Comments

  1. Love that sober living is becoming cool – I wish someone would tell the small rural town where I live! Although I am having the happiest summer ever and attended several social events which are as boozy as ever for everyone else but still enjoying myself sober. These have included a dinner party with boozy friends, a music festival, a (slightly stressful) family holiday and a girls night out. Most people seem to accept or don’t notice me sticking to AF drinks but I have been amused by some of the bemused comments including “You’re not drinking? You must be driving?”, “Oh what a shame!” and my favourite “You NEED wine!”

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  2. So glad I found you Kate! Real advice for real people who are looking for a real alternative to AA.

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    • Thanks Carrie 🙂

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  3. Keep spreading the word! What else is there besides AA?

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    • There’s my excellent six week stop drinking course: http://thesoberschool.com/course/
      I’m in the middle of teaching the July class right now. The next session will be in October 🙂

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      • Yes and it really works I am so thankful for it 7months AF and feel so much better thanks Kate

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        • Dianne, you are one of my star students! 7 months is fantastic 🙂

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      • I missed the deadline for the July session. I hope I get October right.
        In addition to you, what can you recommend? There are a lot of great things about AA but it is so depressing and I don’t fit in. I like the spiritual part but sometimes the meetings are “rough”. I don’t want to wait until October. My best friend in AA just quit. I’m still going, though.

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        • I am going to join in October. I just would appreciate any advice. I’m in a tenuous situation at home. My husband loves his scotch but I can’t drink. I was a wine person. I’m trying to get sober in an alcoholic world. Our wine cellar is locked so I’m safe at home. I isolate a bit.

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          • Hi Kelly, its hard when other half drinks, mine does too, in the early days I admit to going to bed way before I wanted/needed to, just to not be around it.
            Our world is indeed awash with alcohol but over time I’ve come to realize the power to abstain is within ourselves, everywhere we go and everywhere we are , when we get to that place of acceptance things do ,over time become easier, it stands to reason we didn’t get this way quickly so of course it will take a certain amount of time,belief and patience to achieve.

        • I really like the book ‘This Naked Mind’ by Annie Grace. It helps you deconstruct the myths surrounding alcohol. I am doing Kate’s course and loving it, this book could tide you over until October?

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          • Kim, I go to bed so early too in order to avoid triggering conflicts. I recently went out again. It was an awful fight. I saw my doctor. I have to get myself sober so that I can make the ight decisions not to engage. I hate that going to sleep is the best answer. I don’t feel alive. Thank ou for commenting.

          • Thanks! I’ll do it.

  4. This is AWESOME! When I first stopped drinking, I was worried about what other people thought, and I wasn’t even sure how I truly felt about it myself. Now, I feel freaking proud and like a star!! Thanks for the amazing post Kate, you’ve inspirted me to write today as well xoxoxo

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    • It’s funny how things change with time. I used to be really worried about what other people would think too. Now, I couldn’t care less – I know it’s an awesome lifestyle choice and that’s all that matters.

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  5. Kate, you rock. That’s the pep talk I needed. I love it that AF living is hip.
    And if Anna Wintour can be an example, why not? She is a shrewd cookie, who has stayed on top for quite awhile in a very tough business. The very handsome Joe Manganiello cut out alcohol in order to achieve his fitness goals. I love this list of “winners”who are AF, for whatever reasons.

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  6. You are correct in that there are a number of choices now, not just AA. AA worked wonders for my dear father who was 54 years sober before he passed. I didn’t feel that was the right choice for me, thankfully, I found your blog and along with my own dedication, determination and the support of those that love me I am one year sober today. I believe sober living is very cool!

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    • Congratulations on your sober anniversary! With determination and a conscious mindset, I too, hope to be celebrating my 1 year anniversary July 31, 2018! This is my hearts desire and I hope that I can achieve it!

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      • Thanks Phoenix, good luck on your sober journey, I’ve no doubt you’ll get to where you want to be!

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  7. I enjoy your emails and posts!
    Thank you 🙂

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  8. Sober for 3+ months after doctor’s recommendation last April. Last Friday Doc gave me the OK to drink again as the alcohol not appearing to be a contributor to my issues. So did I jump immediately back in? No! I’ve decided to give it a while and really think about when and “HOW” I want to drink again. I’m pretty sure I will drink again. But I have enjoyed taking a break from it. Sure it is hard at times. But my clarity of thought and overall physical well being is improved. Im considering making it to 6 months. The challenge gets easier and more rewarding each week. I can say that non-alcoholic beer has been a blessing for me. I know it may be a problem for some and not necessarily recommended for certain people but it has made some occasions more palatable. Being out on the lake for 5 hours with a bunch of friends slamming beers is alot more fun if you are too! Im just not getting drunk! I hope more restaurants will start carrying good non-alcoholic beers. St. Pauli and Becks have great brews and even O’douls is drinkable these days. Significant improvement from the 1990’s versions. Anyway, thanks for the forum and best of luck to everyone on their individual journeys!

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    • Totally agree Lane about AF beers being a winner! A wee bug bear of mine – went to a festival recently and wanted to take my own AF beers but they wouldn’t allow you to take your own drinks in. I understand they need to make a profit from selling drinks in the bar and was perfectly prepared to pay – but then got in and no AF drinks – my choices were booze or kids fizzy pop! It was a great music festival but that’s a fail for the organisers in my view – Kate I may send them a link to your excellent blog to prompt them to get with the programme for next year!

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  9. Love your posts. I’m so happy I learned about you and your message. I’ve been sober since mid-January. The main thing I learned about my drinking was it was mostly a bad habit I had fallen into. Just like eating lunch in the middle of the day, every day, I paired drinking with supper, every night. Now, I have new habits and it’s been good. It hasn’t been as life changing for me as for some. I expected to lose a little more weight (less empty calories) and I expected to feel enormously better emotionally. Neither happened. However, it was still an overall positive. I’m glad to be sober and I plan to be sober until after the holidays. I haven’t had a sober Xmas in 21 years, and I can’t wait to see what the difference will be.

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  10. Kate a huge thank you. I will be honest and tell you many a mail from you I read while drinking a gin and tonic maybe 10 of them but I have got there. Into my 3rd week clean. Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 3 weeks! Keep going 🙂

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  11. Kate, you’re offering an eye-opening and life-changing service. Thank you for leading the way. I’m still working out the details but back on Day 13 and it’s feeling much more in the wheelhouse this time around.

    Reply
    • You’ll get there Diana, no question. Keep going 🙂

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  12. This is a great blog,Kate, and I do believe that not drinking alcohol is becoming more accepted,particularly amongst the youngies. Sadly, opting not to drink alcohol at my age- 50’s- can be a little trickier; I have certainly experience peer pressure to not be so “extreme” recently, from women of my age. I’m afraid that my generation of women continues to be pretty much pickled in alcohol. So, keep getting that message out there,Kate, and I will keep being an “extremist”!!

    Reply
    • I noticed in the BBC article that I linked to (under the first point about the rise in teetotallers) that the baby boomer generation was the exception to the rule – they’re still drinking too much and too often! It sounds like that’s your age group. I know it’s hard to be ‘different’, but I really hope you continue setting a great example for your peers! 🙂

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      • Hi Kate- I intend to! Thanks for your support.

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    • Hi Rosaleen,
      I agree with you – I’m 52, and have found that my children who are in their 20s are very easy going and supportive about my being sober…..whereas a year and a half in, my husband is only just beginning to realise that I’m ‘serious’ and is finally accepting, having been quite resentful at first. Our friends have been polite about it, but I think they regard me as odd.
      Keep at it, eventually everyone around you will forget it was ever an issue and stop commenting because it’s old news.
      It does get easier. Well done for getting this far…..don’t go back to ‘zero days sober’ be proud of what you’ve achieved!
      Jane xx

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      • Thanks,Jane! Well done yourself for going against the trend too- very encouraging to hear. I raise my glass of elderflower pressé to you!

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  13. AF as a “trend”.. at last! To choose not to booze without having to experience some of the drinkers around you feeling uncomfortable is great news.

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  14. Hello , having a read around, good luck to all on your sober journey.

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  15. Delighted to see that for August our city centre coffee shops are going to try late night opening, every nigh, with music and other events- and if i’s supported, it’ll continue as an alternative to the pub scene

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  16. Day 1 alcohol free today, wish me luck on my new journey

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    • Good luck Susie – soon you will stop feeling you are missing out and feel sorry for your friends who are still drinking. You can do it!

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      • Thanks Sadie, easier to manage nights in where I think it had just become a habit after work but not sure how I’ll cope with a night out so plan to avoid in these early days.

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  17. someone mentioned that drinking NA beer is not recommended for everyone. I have been having one at night (maybe 3-4 nights a week) and am wondering what the down side or concern is?

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    • Some people find that alcohol-free beer feels too close to the real thing, and it makes them crave the alcoholic version. But for many other people, alcohol-free beer is a key part of their sober plan. It’s an individual choice – there’s no right or wrong – so do what feels good to you.

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  18. As a graduate of your April class, I can happily announce that I am 120 days sober! I went on my first vacation, alcohol free, and discovered that alot of folks don’t drink! (Just a you have said but still a surprise to me!) As I move along in my more focused and clear world I find that I don’t miss my wine all that much anymore but I keep my toolbox close,and, chocolate.
    Thanks Kate

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    • Woo hoo, congratulations Cheryl! 120 days is amazing! Well done – I’m so pleased for you 🙂

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  19. Kate thank you so much for this site! I am on day 60 and am very happy about it, however there are still times that it is a struggle. Is this normal? I am always so very relieved to wake up knowing I am still alcohol free. Sometimes I even dream that I had wine and am upset with myself. I feel so much better about every aspect of my life without alcohol but wonder when I will not miss that “I dont care” feeling that wine can bring. It is too big of a price to pay in every other aspect though. Anyway, thank you all!

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  20. Great blog Kate… I live in Canada and booze is still a big part of socializing.. I go to the pubs and bars and people are always asking why I don’t drink.. I tell them it is a personal choice and I don’t need to drink to have fun.. Life is great without booze and I don’t miss it… Every morning I wake up and feel great and Iam grateful for not drinking..

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  21. Morning!
    I am 59 ( very nearly)
    Wife,mum to four, now grown up kids and drank socially for many years as did my husband,all was fine ; until it,wasn’t.
    Over maybe ten years my drinking spiraled out of control, I had many detoxes both home and hospital, am ashamed to say and still I drank.
    After many,many failed attempts I
    am now amazingly two and half years sober!!!
    I was feeling lower than a snakes belly during my drinking days, and that statement is sugar coating it honestly.
    So all good today doing it one day at a time .

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  22. Such a great piece, Kate. All the way over in Australia I’m noticing the same thing. Friends voluntarily deciding just to stop drinking, ‘Dry July’ (an alcohol free fund raising event) leading to dry August and beyond.

    I’m hoping that at some point we’ll see the labelling recommendations of the Cancer Council implemented. Everyone knows that cigarettes are a class one carcinogen but how many people know that alcohol is also class one. Yep. Known to cause cancer. Proven. No question about it. So how come we don’t put it on the bottle? Could it be the tax dollars?

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  23. I’m 5 months sober and wouldn’t have got here without your sensible, logical, encouraging help Kate! I truly love my life now and even my mum told me yesterday I sounded different lately ‘you sound like you have your own mind’ she said and it’s true, I do at last! My friends are curious as they start to see me glow – sober living is definitely catching on!

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    • That’s wonderful to hear Susie! Here’s to amazing, alcohol-free living 🙂

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  24. I am currently on vacation with my husband and teenage kids – 1 week and 1 day sober – it has been hard at times but already feeling the benefit. Your vacation blog inspired me as have the comments above. It was time to take charge of my drinking, I could go Monday to Thursday booze free and then hit the wine (big time) Friday, Saturday and Sunday – Monday I would feel terrible and the weekend a blur… thank you for your blog and thank you for the inspiring comments.

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  25. I’m on my 5th sober day. Have always had a problem for years really I suppose, never addressed it until now though.
    The 2nd day was harder for me I found ……Getting easier for me but weekends are particularly hard.
    I’m doing this for me though, I want to stop having hangover days.

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  26. Thank you Kate for your wisdom and timing. I have committed to 100 days of sobriety and tomorrow will mark my 63rd day. Today we returned from a 7 day family vacation including our grow children, their partners and our two beautiful grandchildren ages 4 months and almost 3. My anxiety was high when I thought of vacationing without happy hour, drinks around the campfire and of course wine with dinner. I can honestly say I just experienced to most memorable family vacation ever. No hangovers….no regrets in the morning….and so much time having fun with my grandchildren. A very tasty non alcoholic German beer was the perfect substitute! Thank you for sharing and caring so much❤️

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    • Yay well done,Carrie Lee! Many excellent AF beers out there – I enjoy them even though I’ve never been a beer drinker.
      Not long til 100!

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  27. Love this Kate!! Sober is definitely becoming cooler – thanks for the mention of my yoga event too – putting this article in my newsletter this week. L xx

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  28. Kate !..I love your blogs so much,and they are always so interesting to read and spur me on in my AF life ! (2 years now )
    My 50th birthday is coming up and we are planning a family weekend by a lake in teepees. .so great that I don’t have to worry about feeling like shit and writing a day off.
    Also,since going AF I have become a Naturist, so if I can walk around naked without alcohol then I can conquer the world !!

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