June 16, 2019

PURITAN NATION:

The New Sobriety (Alex Williams, June 15, 2019, NY Times)

 It seems not even sobriety will be saved from enjoying a made-for-Instagram moment, with new hashtaggable terms like "mindful drinking" and "sober curious." No longer do you have to feel left out or uncool for being sober. You maybe don't even have to completely stop drinking alcoholic beverages?

This is according to a new generation of kinda-sorta temporary temperance crusaders, whose attitudes toward the hooch is somewhere between Carrie Nation's and Carrie Bradshaw's. To them, sobriety is something less (and more) than a practice relevant only to clinically determined alcohol abusers. Now it can also just be something cool and healthful to try, like going vegan, or taking an Iyengar yoga class.

Anonymous? Hardly. No longer is the topic of sobriety confined to discreet meetings in church halls over Styrofoam cups of lukewarm Maxwell House. For these New Abstainers, sobriety is a thing to be, yes, toasted over $15 artisanal mocktails at alcohol-free nights at chic bars around the country, or at "sober-curious" yoga retreats, or early-morning dance parties for those with no need to sleep off the previous night's bender.

Many will tell you they never had a drinking problem. They just had a problem with drinking.

The simple act of waving off wine at a dinner party used to be interpreted as a tacit signal that you were in recovery, "on the wagon," unless you were visibly pregnant or had known religious objections.

That was fine if you identified as an alcoholic. But what about people like Ruby Warrington, 43, a British style journalist in New York who spent her early career quaffing gratis cocktails at industry events, only to regret the groggy mornings, stumbles and embarrassing texts that have long been considered part of the bargain with so-called normal drinking?

After moving to New York in 2012, Ms. Warrington tried 12-step programs briefly but decided that "Ruby, alcoholic" was not the person she saw in the mirror. Three years ago she started Club Soda NYC, an event series for other "sober curious," as she termed them: young professionals who were "kind-of-just-a-little-bit-addicted-to-booze."

These gatherings featured panels on topics like "Sex, Lies, and Alcohol," as well as New Age icebreaker activities like "deep-eye gazing" and Kundalini disco.

"It just felt to me like there was a huge gray area, and a much wider acknowledgment now of the different categories of problem drinking," Ms Warrington said.

Moderation in all things.

Posted by at June 16, 2019 8:40 AM

  

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