Sobering reality has more people living alcohol-free

Ruthie Hatter, Graphic Designer

Switching to an alcohol-free lifestyle will improve your life, fact or fad? While this belief has been present in various forms throughout human history, now more than ever before the younger generations have been sobering up and seriously questioning the pros and cons of alcohol consumption. This article delves into the reasons behind the growing sobriety movement and the factors that have led to such an integral part of young adult culture becoming “uncool.”
For many, indulging in an evening of irresponsible choices with your favorite people is just a typical Friday night under the lights. But for others, myself included, the consequences of this aforementioned “fun” are not being observed with the traditional perspective.
In a 2022 article from BBC Worklife, John Holmes, professor of alcohol policy at the University of Sheffield, states, “In the mid to late 2000s, getting drunk and binge drinking was a way friendships were formed and solidified – even experiencing the negative effects together was a key part of making and sustaining friends in adolescence and early adulthood. But Gen Zers are more likely to see drunkenness as unpleasant, uncool or uninteresting.”
The UK’s Office for National Statistics affirm this notion. The percentage of youth who do not consume alcohol has risen by 32% in the last 10 years. Peer pressure just isn’t as cool as it used to be.
Moreover, this astonishing rise in sober-minded living can be attributed to heightening alcoholic beverage costs and the widespread popularity of the health and wellness movements. Rather than compromise their Sunday afternoon recovering from a monster hangover and pining over the cash they blew, Generation Z and Millennials have shown a dedicated interest in protecting their physical, mental and even spiritual health from the damaging effects of alcohol.
This polarizing perception is not baseless as multiple studies have shown that the negative realities associated with habitual drinking greatly outweigh the positive. Over time, extreme alcohol usage can expedite the development of chronic illnesses and other serious long-term physical issues such as heart disease, liver failure, strokes, digestive pain and breast, mouth, liver, throat, esophagus, voice box, colon and rectum cancer.
Additionally, alcohol is prided as the dominant social lubricant, and as Wisconsinites, we know this all too well. It brings us together! But while that warm rush of dopamine and serotonin feels amazing, it subsides swiftly for most people; as a result, the chemical interference in the brain can lead some to experience intense negative emotions that linger into the following day and can even exacerbate pre-existing feelings of depression and anxiety.
Your inhibitions aren’t the only thing it can lower. Given the inexcusable/inarguable evidence that booze lowers your quality of life, many young people are making the personal choice to quietly step off the path laid out by the older generations in favor of their health. Drinking responsibly or not at all has become the new approach to alcohol.
However, those of us who still enjoy going out without regrets the next day do so happily by reducing our number of drinks and reaching for craft mocktails instead, which has led to abundant opportunities for the zero-proof market!
We all deserve to have a good time with the people in our lives, and drinking knowledgeably is the best way to go about that. So, raise a glass (alcoholic or not) to embracing a sobering reality that seeks to redefine socializing and prioritize well-being.