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Sober-Curious: A Word For People Who Drink, But Don’t Get Wasted (ITME)!

Sometime soon after turning 30: I’m at a party, awaiting my third glass of wine. A new friend remarks, ‘You’ll get an awful hangover tomorrow.’ ‘I don’t get hangovers,’ I tell him. He then watches me chug a glass of water before I sip on the wine. ‘Ah! This is why you don’t get hangovers! Because you chase your drinks with water.’ 

I love my vino, but I hate getting drunk to the point of throwing up or passing out, or being so hungover the next day that I can’t function. In fact, I love it when I wake up fresh the day after drinking. Of course, I wasn’t always like this. Like every 20-something, I’ve had my fair share of nights of drinking to oblivion. Even during the decade that is notorious for not getting stung by the hangover bug, I’ve had a few too many “morning-afters”. And I don’t regret any of it one bit. I was having fun! That being said, I don't remember much from those years. The nights blend into each other, and it's only in photographs that I can tell them apart. 

But, somewhere along changing calendar years, my drinking habits - and more importantly - my tolerance level for being incapacitated the next day - changed. As hangovers became worse, subconsciously, I began taking precautions to prevent the eventuality. Chasing each drink with water was one of them. Not drinking on empty stomach, the other. Steering clear of cheap alcohol another. What I didn’t realise was that all this while, there was something else that was brewing. I was becoming averse to inebriated behaviour. Not in a judge-y way. I’m all for having fun. But, more in a “Okay, I get it. This is fun. But, now it’s just the first one hour on repeat until you degenerate into an annoying klutz who can’t language.” And I meant this for myself, too. The appeal of being intoxicated was quickly losing its charm.

As if I began falling in love with my life, I had this new urge to stay sober for the fun times in my life, so I could remember them later. 

That’s how it really began - my journey toward becoming what I have learnt is called ‘sober-curious’. Referring to mindful drinking or drinking consciously, sober-curious is the label for anyone who doesn’t drink to get wasted, but is not a teetotaller either. So, if you drink a glass of wine at the end of the day, you’re sober-curious? Yes. If you stop at the third drink at a party, just short of losing your balance and wit, you’re sober-curious? Supposedly. If you nurse the one glass all night, you’re sober-curious? Most definitely. The idea is to have just the right amount of alcohol - if at all - to take the edge off, maybe give you a happy buzz, not never so much that you feel sick, or can't remember what happens while you're sipping on alcoholic beverages.

The more I wanted to remember the good times, the less I wanted to drink.  

This is how I’ve been drinking for the last four or five years of my life, and I have to say, I absolutely love it. I savour my drink. I can drive myself back home. And be my creative best at work the next day. Every once in a while, I decide to get drunk - and then, too, it is a conscious decision. Made by me, and not peer pressure. Usually before I start drinking. The tremendous thing that it has done for me is completely change my relationship with alcohol - I now control it. Until this morning, I didn’t know there was a word for this. But, now that I do, I am totally owning it just as much as I own my one glass of wine a night. 

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