New year, no alcohol? 'Sober Curious' movement on the rise

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hello, 2020... goodbye, alcohol? A growing number of people are cutting out drinking in the new year, and it's not just for the so-called "dry January." For some, it's a lifestyle change that could last much longer.

The movement is called "Sober Curious." It's a trend to cut out alcohol long-term and make not drinking cool.

"It is a true curiosity," Laura McKowen, author of upcoming book "We Are The Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life," told ABC7 News. "Like, what might happen if I removed this thing from my life for a while? Just to see."

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McKowen worked in advertising for 15 years, which she described as being an alcohol-obsessed culture. She quit in 2016, a year or so after she became sober.

"I started an Instagram account five years ago, it was called 'Clear Eyes Full Heart,' just to talk about my own sobriety, and it was still a very underground thing then," she recalled. "And I would say now every other account is a sobriety account, and it's certainly become a really big thing."

On Instagram, hashtags like #sobercurious, #soberlife and #sobermovement have millions of tags.

Sober bars are opening up around the country. In the Bay Area, restaurants are adding zero-proof cocktails to the menu.

The blog "Hip Sobriety," by former San Francisco techie Holly Whitaker, has also helped fuel the movement.

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But there are some concerns about the trend.

"I think the fact that sobriety might be having a moment and might be starting to be looked at as something cool is great because it lowers the bar of the conversation," McKowen said. "That said, there always is a part of me that worries about the trendy side of it downplaying the seriousness of it for some people."

Still, for people who are sober, like Geoffrey Holland, a recent college graduate who stopped drinking eight months ago for medical reasons -- the movement is refreshing.

"It's way more authentic. If you want to go talk to a girl or someone you want to meet, you're doing it all on your own volition," Holland said. "You're testing your abilities and innate characteristics 100% of the time, which sounds, I guess, exhausting, but it's kind of rewarding in the end."
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