Sober Curious: A Night Life Alternative

 Consuming alcohol has almost become synonymous with going out on the weekend with your friends especially if the pre-determined meeting location is a bar. The situation usually plays out by one friend getting there earlier, and ordering a drink from the bar while they wait for the rest of the group. Then the rest of the friends or group arrives, and you all order another round of drinks while you wait for the food, and then maybe one more round of drinks before you all leave for the night and head your separate ways.

Now, one can say that this may be a scenario that can be quite expensive with the group in the example ordering three round of drinks and according to an article entitled The Recent Evolution of How we Get Tipsy“, that covered an NPR alcohol report, it actually is! This report found that as production of alcohol in America has become more efficient, alcohol prices have declined 39% from 1982 to 2012. During that same time span, the prices of alcohol at bars and restaurants has increased 79%.Prices of Booze At Home and Away That increase of price is coupled with the fact that bars and restaurants are now starting to focus more on the sale on alcohol rather than the sale of food. This led to Americans in 2012 to spend an estimated 40% of their expenses at bars and restaurants on alcohol, in comparison to just 24% in 1982. 

So with Americans spending a majority of their money while eating out on something that is unhealthy, in bars and restaurants where the alcohol is getting more expensive, what happens if you want to escape this culture for a weekend or two but still want to attend a bar-esque atmosphere with your friends?

Well, that is where the phenomena of “Sober curious” or “Sober Sometimes” comes in. NPR did a piece on this new social club that is mostly made up of women in their 30s, and the NPR piece stated that one of the main reasons behind the women joining the club was due to the fact that they “have demanding jobs and simply do not want to feel foggy or hungover anymore.” 

These social clubs usually have bars dedicated to them where people can gather, eat, listen to music, and socialize all while consuming non-alcoholic beverages. This gives individuals a healthy alternative to going to bars that serve alcohol but still allowing them to enjoy all of the other aspects that comes with night life.


Source: Julia Robinson for NPR

But, the question begs itself, how effective could this new initiative be, especially in a climate where drinking and going out is seen as the norm?. Well, the first step would to be establish more bars that are strictly dedicated to serving non-alcoholic beverages to its patrons. But to be competitive, these bars need to still offer the same amenities and activities that bars that serve alcohol do which would be good music, good food, and good service. That accompanied with word of mouth of the atmosphere of the bar being just as fun, then the growth for these types of establishments is endless, and will slowly become culturally accepted. But, for the latter to happen, individuals must be educated on the harms of drinking and how even taking a small break, if you choose not to become completely sober, is still a healthier option, and non-alcoholic bars are the way to go. But, if the value is seen in these sober bars, then potentially investments can be made into these types of establishments that will make them bigger and better than ever, and will make these bars an excellent alternative to individuals that want to go out and socialize with friends but do not want to drink.


Alcohol & Breast Cancer


The Problem: Alcohol Attributable Breast Cancer

     Alcohol consumption and the effects that it has on increasing the risk that a women will develop breast cancer in the future is something that has been studied extensively the past 20 years. Some of these studies date back to early epidemiological data that suggests that “Increased estrogen and androgen levels in women consuming alcohol appear to be important mechanisms underlying the association.” (Singleton, 2001). According to a study that was conducted in 2012, globally about 144,000 breast cancer cases and 38,000 breast cancer deaths were attributed to alcohol consumption (Shield, 2016). The report stated that a sizable amount of the 38,000 breast cancer deaths were attributable to light drinking which was classified as having 3 to 6 drinks a week. This same study found that the highest incidences of alcohol attributable breast cancer deaths and cases were located in Northern and Western Europe (12.4 cases of breast cancer per 100,000 women) followed by North America and Oceania (9.8 cases per 100,000 women). The map that was included in  the research studpage8image429650960y which visually illustrates the geographic distribution of the alcoholic attributable breast cancer cases globally in 2012 is shown here to the right. This map shows a concentration of alcohol attributed cases and deaths in regions of the world that are highly developed. With this research still being relatively new the researchers noted that further research would be done to determine how drinking patterns, age in which alcohol is consumed, and genetic differences increase or decrease your risk for dying from or developing breast cancer. With the growing buzz around this research the question begs itself, how can this information be disseminated to women? Through public advertisements? At screenings? These are questions that should be asked to try combat this issue.



Spreading the Word: From the Doctor’s Office to Your Bar

     With all of the new research coming out each day regarding alcohol consumption and breast cancer awareness, the next step would be to inform the women who may be at risk. As mentioned in the research study above, researchers found that even being a light drinker (3 to 6 drinks per week) has the potential to increase women’s chances of developing breast cancer. In my opinion, some of the best ways to disseminate this information would be during physicals initially. This will be a very good method to enforce preventive methods of reducing alcohol-attributable breast cancer cases. During a woman’s annual physical, her primary care physician can explain to her the research being done in the field and include information about how the weekly consumption of alcohol may increase their risk of getting breast cancer. For women that may be uninsured, although it may be a bit of a stretch but literature that illustrates the risk of constantly consuming alcoholic beverages and its potential ties to breast cancer in stores and establishments where alcohol is sold could go a long way in potentially preventing women from indulging in habits that may increase their breast cancer risk. For an intervention to disseminate information through bars in liquor stores and bars would probably require some type of policy to be written. It can be expected that liquor companies and any other interested parties will provide all sorts of push back to stop advertising that would hurt sales. If women are more informed, public opinion may put enough pressure on these companies to ensure that they are informing their patrons of the risks they are exposing themselves to.