Sober curious? TRY Kava Kava!
Sometimes sober curios is called a movement. Or is it rather a trend that was born for years and will stay for years to come? Or is it just a passing fad that will be forgotten sooner or later? How much of it is curiosity and discovery? Can sober curios be clearly defined at all? And finally: how did the traditional Kava Kava fit into the modern approach to sobriety? Let’s find out!
If we consider sober curios as a trend, it has certainly matured over the years. It fits in with the perspective of self-care, wellness, a turn towards nature, a reflection on healthy living, inner balance in an overstimulated world or the popularity of everything ‘slow’. At the same time, it is characterised by a kind of maturity – above all, it lacks radicalism. Fads often gain notoriety precisely because of their radicalism: total affirmation or radical rejection. Sober curios is different. Let’s try to define it!
You drink, you don’t drink – your choice. But be sober curious!
Sober curious is about sobriety as a distance from stimulants, but with a special emphasis on alcohol. At the same time, sober curious does not focus on sobriety understood as a radical decision: from today I don’t drink a drop, it’s over, never again! It is not quitting that is the goal, but the process itself: limiting, valuing, discovering!
One could say in high-flown terms that it is not the goal but the path that counts… if it were not for the fact that sober curios are far from high-flown. What counts is simply good everyday life! Alcohol is not forbidden in sober curious. What counts is freedom from alcohol!
What is sober curios?
The definition of sober curiosity is broad and flexible (everyone can find in it what they need most), nevertheless two basic dimensions can be distinguished:
- curiosity about the world that is not drowned out by alcohol
- the realisation that alcohol can often be a means of escape from problems (of which we may not even be aware).
Sober curious is a way of living that is not drowned out: by alcohol, by stimulants, but also by a lifestyle for which stimulants are often great fuel. It is a move away from a rhythm titled: daily stress – evening relaxation with a booster, hard week – devastating weekend, going out on the town – returning in the morning.
For sober curious people sobriety is an pretext for finding an inner balance, a search for calm, self-control, daily harmony. Sober curious puts the accent on categories such as mindfulness, concentration, awareness, a healthier lifestyle, concern for sleep. That is, categories particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of alcohol.
Awareness. That alcohol is harmful – we all know. We know that it can easily become addictive. We know that it damages the liver, the nervous system, the heart etc. etc. The social effects of drinking are so huge that it is indeed hard to imagine the scale, but we can sense how devastating alcohol can be (violence, family dramas, ACoA/ACA). So… why do we drink so much as a society?
Sober curious is also an attempt to confront the social dimension of drinking. Creating a space where it is easier to say ‘no’ to the social pressure to drink. Where it’s easier to be at peace with yourself and not drink if you don’t want to. It’s about creating alternatives to compulsive drinking (such as non-alko bars). A reflection on the fact that alcohol is too often used to drown out negative emotions or social anxieties. That it is worthwhile to look at these emotions and fears soberly and face them consciously.
This is particularly important in countries where the culture of drinking is firmly entrenched and further conquered by a pop culture in which alcohol has an aspirational character: as a status symbol, a permanent element of celebration, an apparent reward. This is why sober curious focuses precisely on alcohol: as a common stimulant, widely abused and commonly downplayed.
When did the sober curios movement emerge?
As we mentioned, sober curious was not born in a vacuum, but the formative moment was a 2018 book by Ruby Warrington with the much explained title Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol. The book quickly became a bestseller and the author herself became the face of the movement.
As Ruby Warrington points out: being sober curious means, “literally, to choose to question, or get curious about, every impulse, invitation, and expectation to drink, versus mindlessly going along with the dominant drinking culture.”
Sober curios and Kava Kava
How did Kava Kava come to be part of the sober curios approach? The emergence of non-alko bars and spaces in the spirit of sober curiosity (like the CLUB SODA – channel linked above), coincided with the popularisation of Kava Kava in the US. Of course, except Hawaii, where Kava (Awa) is deeply rooted in culture and tradition.
Rather, the American popularity of Kava Kava is related to the fact that in the USA it is primarily recognised as a natural alternative to sedatives or sleeping pills (in general: to pharmaceutical abuse). As a viable alternative to alcohol Kava became popular – coincidentally or not – in parallel with the rise of the sober curious movement. Of course, the community of Kava fans in the US had been around for a long time, but Kava was not present in the American media or in bars. Meanwhile, kava bars began to spring up all over America, and their phenomenon was covered by e.g. The New York Times. [ Stressed New Yorkers Take to Kava, Nature’s Xanax]
Kava Kava as an alternative to alcohol
In this role, Kava works perfectly. And at the same time, it fits in with the spirit of sober curios. Why?
- Kava reduces stress and gives deep relaxation – If you drink alcohol for a similar purpose: beware! You can easily fall into a spiral and become addicted to alcohol
- Kava does not stupefy
- Kava gives you a healthy, restorative sleep – alcohol, on the other hand, disrupts the sleep rhythm, depriving the body of proper regeneration
- Kava improves your daily mood and sense of well-being – among other things by affecting the nervous system (GABA) and likely the limbic system (emotions)
- Kava means no hangover!
- Kava makes it easier to break down social barriers – alcohol only drowns them out
- Kava is inner balance – it makes it easier to appreciate the world around you. As it is – undistorted by alcohol.
- Kava does not entail the negative social consequences – that are associated with alcohol abuse, such as violence, family and interpersonal crises, ruined health, psychological or economic costs and others…
- Kava is great when drunk with friends, e.g. at parties; when you want to relax, talk frankly and laugh – without the cultural compulsion to drink