The future of sobriety: Alcohol-free clubs, societies and festivals
When it comes to going alcohol-free, it’s one thing to start with good intentions and even stop drinking for a month or more, but to abstain entirely and completely convert to non-alcoholic drinks for most people is very difficult. But the good news is there are many organisations out there offering help and support for those who wish to cut alcohol out of their lives for good. A serious alcohol addiction however will need medical advice and support, and for that, the usual method of speaking to a doctor is the first step toward getting a treatment plan. There are also plenty of resources on the NHS which signpost where help can be obtained if needed. However, even those who are only habitual or occasional drinkers who are looking to abstain can be helped by the more recent abstinence campaigns and the increasing popularity of being sober.
Club Soda is a mindful drinking movement, which aims to “create a world where nobody has to feel out of place if they are not drinking alcohol.” The organisation runs events such as the Mindful Drinking Festival, lobbies government to simplify non-alcoholic drink labels, provides workshops and information for non-drinkers and reviews of non-alcoholic options. Their aim is for everyone to be supported in the choices they make regarding alcohol, whether it is staying sober indefinitely or choosing to drink in a way that works for them.
One of the strategies suggested by Club Soda’s founders is taking part in activities that are social, fun and ideally healthy too. A good example is Daybreaker, which promises a one-hour yoga/ fitness class followed by a 2-hour (sober) disco, all before starting work at 9 am! It is now present in 25 cities around the world, including London. Morning Gloryville has similar style events but they run from 6.30am-10.30am usually on Saturdays. They are family friendly and include yoga and juices, but here you can expect a banging dance floor which is anything but empty.
It has long been noted that aerobic activity can change the way the brain activates dopamine release. The ‘runner’s high’ you get after a jog is the reward from the brain moving from reliance on the animalistic, reactive reward system to the more considered, reflective reward system, in turn allowing us to think in the long term and make more thoughtful decisions. Running programmes do help those who are recovering from alcohol or drug addictions because of the physical and mental changes running promotes. However, they also build a sense of self-worth and community which are welcome whether you are abstaining for the long term, or intermittently.
Technology also has a role to play in helping people abstain. Sober Grid is an app that connects you with other sober people. “You are instantly connected to a global sober community in your neighbourhood and around the globe. You can build strong sober support networks and inspire others.”
There is a plethora of events, groups, apps and counsellors who will be able to support those who seek help going sober, but perhaps for those who wish to have a ‘healthier’ relationship with alcohol, the key is to think before you drink. It could be exactly the right drink, or it could be one of the thousands of instantly forgettable, habitual drinks that in reality are not providing the pleasure that was anticipated.
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