You know the feeling... It’s the morning after the night before and you wake up, head pounding, mouth dryer than your Instagram notifications – unless you have many and then, in that case, congratulations – and the strong urge to vomit lodged in your throat. The dreaded hangover. You painfully lower your head back onto the pillow and vow ‘From this moment on, I don’t drink alcohol. I’m living sober’. But you know that declaration won’t last. Next weekend will come around and that text will appear inviting you to the pub. You’ll contemplate not going, wonder whether you should just have a nice night-in instead. Yet, once you’ve arduously flicked through Netflix and concluded that you’ve already devoured the good stuff and all that’s left to watch is that season of Seinfeld AGAIN, you’ll cave. ‘Okay, ’you text back, ‘I’m sober tonight though. Going cold turkey’. And you mean it, you really do. That’s until you get to the pub and, as your friends get merrier with each round, that alcohol-free glass of lemonade starts to feel rather melancholy in your hands and before you know it, it’s turned into something stronger. Thus starts the cycle again.
At least, that’s how it used to be. Then came the emergence of the ‘Sober Butterfly’. Sober Butterfly: an individual with the schmoozing skills, confidence, and the full diary of a social butterfly, except they breeze through all events with a non-alcoholic beverage in hand. Is that possible? To be comfortable in a social environment without inebriation? Yes. And according to statistics from The Guardian, the number of those ditching the booze is steadily increasing, particularly amongst young people; 25% of young people now class themselves as ‘non-drinkers ’and binge-drinking rates have seen a noteworthy decline, with numbers dropping from 27% in 2005 to 18% in 2015. Furthermore, this year the worldwide non-alcoholic drinks industry took in a whopping £881,542m in revenue and alcohol-free beer is responsible for over half of all sales in the global beer industry.
How come so many people are choosing to give up alcohol? The reasons vary, but one that particularly stands out is that the younger generation (i.e millennials and the oh-so-intimidatingly-hip Gen Zs) are more health (including mental health) conscious than their predecessors. This is not much of a surprise, especially considering not-so-long-ago doctors were actively pushing cigarettes as part of public health campaigns ‘ –sore throat? Smoke a tube of poison – ’and even the slightest indication of a mental health illness could have one locked up on Shutter Island, however, it’s also a direct result of the fact that today’s generation is privy to the most amount of health information available ever, all of which is easily accessible within seconds. Plenty in this awakened era are no longer willing to put up with the lingering hangovers, lack of sleep, increase in anxiety and depression, dangerous lack of inhibitions, risk of fatal disease… etc, etc. Why? More like why not.
Such a shift in attitude is helping rid the stigma around alcohol-free socialisation. While in some circles it is unfortunately still prominent, a more evolved way of thinking is materialising. Healthmatters.org claims that 3 in 4 millennials enjoy a sober night out at least once a month, with 43% of those surveyed relishing the lack of a hangover the next morning and 34% stating that they do so specifically for health benefits. In fact, sober socialisation grew in such popularity that in 2011 the UK’s first ever ‘dry bar ’The Brink was opened in Liverpool. Individuals in the UK are not alone in their quest for sober living, and recent years have seen a notable number of ‘sober bars ’emerge in a bunch of major US cities, including New York, San Francisco, Austin and Denver.
So, this begs the question, what are you waiting for? Grab yourself a bottle of Social Coffee Mixer by GOOD KOFFEE and create a simple coffee tonic, crack out of that alcohol-soaked cocoon, and soar away into the sunset like the beautiful Sober Butterfly you were always destined to be. Or, on a less dramatic note, for ultimate convenience pop open a nice, cold ready to drink Chai and Vanilla Social Coffee Tonic and hunker down in front of the TV – the choice is yours.
Written and illustrated by Lydia Dronsfield