Sober curious movement picks up steam in the Carolinas

CHARLOTTE — You may have noticed more mocktails on restaurant menus and local breweries releasing non-alcoholic beer.

The sober curious movement has picked up steam, with people deciding to cut back or cut out alcohol completely even if they don’t seem to fit into the box of someone who struggles with an alcohol use disorder.

Channel 9′s Elsa Gillis delved into what is driving the trend.

Like many, drinking alcohol was embedded into Molly Ruggere’s personal and social life, especially in her 20s.

“I’m not going to lie, when I was 27, I was like, ‘What am I going to do? How am I going to date?’ It felt like my life was over,” Ruggere said. “It slowly kind of became to the point where it felt like it was compromising my health, and I just wasn’t really happy.”

So, she decided to cut alcohol out of her life and stuck with it.

“It was the best decision I ever made. I was like, ‘Oh, this is actually a cheat code to feeling better physically, inside and out,’” she explained.

However, Ruggere is far from alone in this discovery, and the trend is continuing to grow.

According to advertising agency NCSolutions, 41% of Americans plan to drink less in 2024, with 61% of Generation Z and 49% of Millennials trying to cut back in the new year.

Doctor Marc Lewin told Channel 9 that he has seen the movement grow through his patients, especially the younger ones, and he’s happy to see it.

“I think that people just grow up doing what they’ve always done, and many people just do it their whole lives. And I think that drinking alcohol is one of them. Now we know that the best amount of alcohol for your health is none,” Lewin said.

After finding it challenging to socialize without alcohol, Ruggere said she found the Counterculture Club to support those doing just that.

Both she and Lewin are encouraging others who are curious about cutting back to try it out.

“It doesn’t have to be a massive, lifelong commitment. It can be a day, an hour, or a week,” Ruggere explained. “Just to see if there are benefits for them and maybe something they want to continue long-term,” Lewin echoed.

Lewin said that up until a few weeks ago, physicians would tell their adult patients they could drink up to one or two drinks a day. But now they know alcohol is linked to many diseases, beyond alcohol use disorder.

It’s associated with health issues including diabetes, obesity, liver problems, as well as several cancers. Also, there are mental health issues associated with or exacerbated by drinking.

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