.elementor-panel-state-loading{ display: none; }



Sober curiosity rising: How Americans are redefining socializing in a drinking culture

A movement called “Sober Curious” is encouraging some people to reassess their relationship with alcohol and become more selective about when they drink, rather than drinking habitually.

As a result, non-alcoholic bottle shops have mushroomed across the country. Erin Flavin owns two such shops in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, and like many people, she’s found herself drinking too much during the pandemic.

“Happy hour got earlier every day, especially since it was stressful homeschooling a 7-year-old and having a 3-year-old running around at the same time,” Flavin said.

According to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 10.5% of people age 12 and older had an alcohol use disorder in the past year, up from 5.3% of the same population in 2019. (Fox News/Mills Hayes)

Flavin’s shop, Marigold, sells drinks infused with THC and mushrooms, and one of her most popular products is an adaptogen drink, which contains herbs that support the body’s ability to handle stress.

“I’m 46 years old and I want to know how I actually feel. I’m learning how to deal with my issues in a healthy way,” Flavin said.

According to a January consumer sentiment survey conducted by NCSolutions, drinking culture in the U.S. is changing. More than 40% of Americans said they want to drink less this year. About 84% believe drinking is still a big part of U.S. culture, down 9% from 2023.

According to an article in USA Today, North Dakota and Wisconsin are the two states with the highest rates of excessive drinking, with 25.99% of people age 12 and older reporting binge drinking in the past month. Kelsey Bank, a millennial from Wisconsin, echoed the findings.

“The drinking culture there was like a party every weekend. Going out every night and having a good time with your friends,” Bank said.

Non-alcoholic beer is booming: 5 brands and 3 reasons why non-alcoholic beer isn’t making waves

Bank said he typically avoids drinking alcohol during the week but has had up to 10 drinks on weekends, which he considers to be alcohol abuse.

“Sober Curious helped me take the first step to change my relationship with alcohol,” Bank says. “In six months, I lost 20 pounds. I’m no longer on blood pressure medication. I’ve made a huge difference in my health journey. I feel better inside and out.”

Bank said he’s completed a month of sobriety before, but this year he decided to start early and commit to sobriety once the month was over. By the third week, he found himself craving a Bloody Mary or beer, but health podcasts and books on sobriety helped him stick to his plan.

“Without alcohol as a social lubricant, it can be pretty hard to come out of your shell, so it took me a while to figure out how to be myself without it,” Bank said.

A woman checks a man's ID at the cash register of an NA bottle shop.

Erin Flavin enjoys talking to customers at her NA Bottle Shop, and she says most are interested in her products. (Fox News/Mills Hayes)

Market research firm Fior Markets predicts that the global non-alcoholic drinks market will grow from $923 million to $1.7 billion by 2028.

But the alcohol abuse is far from over.

“The most common substance use we treat is still alcohol,” said Lydia Barr, director of clinical services at Hazelden Betty Ford in St. Paul.

Stout popularity at ‘all time high’ as ​​interest from women grows; new non-alcoholic beer options emerge

Bahr said there are many people nationwide who have drug use disorders and marijuana problems, and that overall drug use is on the rise, regardless of age.

“I think it’s really important for people to know that there’s no safe amount of alcohol. There’s no healthy amount,” Barr said, “but drinking alcohol doesn’t automatically mean you have a substance use disorder. The vast majority of the population can drink alcohol without any negative consequences.”

While many people turn to substances to deal with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues, Barr said solutions exist to treat or manage these issues, including evidence-based practices and coping skills.

A woman is sitting at a table outside a coffee shop drinking coffee

Kelsey Bank said cutting down on her alcohol intake has helped her lose weight and get off blood pressure medication, and although she still drinks on special occasions, she says changing her drinking habits has been a positive experience for her. (Fox News/Mills Hayes)

“Help is available,” Barr said. “Treatment doesn’t necessarily mean 24-hour inpatient care. There is some kind of treatment and support that fits into their life. We want to help them where they are in their situation.”

Zero Proof Nation tracks non-alcoholic beverage establishments and bars around the world. Laura Silverman 10 years of sobriety When she created the site in 2019.

Larkin Poe promotes chill positivity through music: Good mental health, relationships ‘can be cool’ too

“In 2019, we had no stores that sold non-alcoholic bottles,” Silverman said. “The numbers change a little bit every day, but we’re probably closer to 300 stores that are completely non-alcoholic.”

Silverman takes pride in helping people find NA options wherever they are, because for a long time she didn’t have those options herself.

Statistics show that 41% of people say they want to drink less alcohol this year.

According to the NCSolutions Consumer Sentiment Survey, more than 40% of Americans want to cut down on their alcohol consumption this year. This number is even higher for Gen Z Americans, with 61% saying they plan to cut down on their drinking. Nearly half of millennials also say they will take similar action. (Fox News/Mills Hayes)

“People just don’t want to drink as much anymore,” Silverman said, adding that non-alcoholic drinks aren’t just for people who are completely sober, “but also for older people, people with small children, people who are athletes and are training for a marathon or something important in their life.”

“There are a lot of people in important jobs where alcohol can have a negative impact on their efficiency and performance, and then of course there are people who are very health-conscious.”

Click here to get the FOX News app

Silverman recalled that more than a decade ago, when she was in her 20s and sober, she felt like an outsider when she ordered a soda at a bar. But non-alcoholic drinks are different: They allow you to fit into American drinking culture whether you’re completely sober or not.

“Now is the perfect time for people to explore their sober curiosities and explore a whole new world of drinks,” Silverman said.