How to navigate being ‘sober curious’ during the holidays

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Spiked eggnog, hot toddies, Brandy Alexanders — drinking has always been a central focus of holiday cheer.

But a growing trend shows some are leaning toward an alcohol-free lifestyle, whether for personal wellness or the goal of overcoming addiction. 

The “sober curious” movement started as a post-New Year’s challenge to take a month-long break from booze. That has since expanded, and people are adopting the movement almost like a trial run of what sobriety would be like for them, especially in social situations.

With mocktails or crafty non-alcoholic beverages, it has become easier for people to go without spirits and still socialize. But how do you navigate a cocktail-heavy holiday party with newfound sobriety? 

Adrienne Miller, president and CEO of the Quakertown-based Women for Sobriety, has been sober for nearly 10 years. As the holidays approach, she said they come with serious pressures to socialize, drinks included. 

“We feel all these pressures to do all these things during the holidays, and go to all these parties, and fulfill everyone's wishes to have us there and have us jolly. But sometimes we forget ourselves and what is best for ourselves,” Miller said. “My No. 1 question is always, if you need alcohol to get through it, is it something you really need to do?”

So if someone at a holiday party asks you that inevitable question — “Why aren’t you drinking?” — and you have chosen to be booze-free, Miller said there are simple ways to respond.

“My favorite answer is, ‘I'm just happier this way.’ There's not very many people who can argue with that. So, ‘I just feel better when I don't drink,’ ” she said. “That's a perfectly reasonable answer, and for many of us it's absolutely true.”

It also helps to hold a non-alcoholic drink in your hand, making you and your host more comfortable, she said.

“If you can answer their question of ‘Hey, can I get you a drink?’ with ‘Yes, I would love a Diet Coke.’ Now, they're showing their hospitality, you've got a drink in your hand, they're happy that you are comfortable and taken care of,” she added.

But the most important thing, Miller says: Remember to always take care of yourself first.