Put down that drink and join the ‘sobe­ro­c­racy’

So­cial me­dia pres­sure and health con­cerns have made go­ing dry a vi­able life­style choice, says Hannah Betts

The Sunday Telegraph - - Features & Arts -

Do you “Go Sober for Oc­to­ber”, the an­nual Macmil­lan Cancer Sup­port cam­paign in which hun­dreds of thou­sands of Brits give up the booze? ze? Don’t worry if not: it won’t be long be­fore Al­co­hol Con­cern’s “Dry Jan­uary”uary” is upon us, when five mil­lion of us s col­lapse on to the wagon. If you doubt you can last an en­tire mon­thth with­out drink­ing, how about drink­ing king just a bit less? To tar­get mid­week week drinkers keen on cut­ting back k – the “sober-cu­ri­ous” – Waitrose is launch­ing unch­ing half-bot­tles; sales of its sin­gle-glass le-glass bot­tles are al­ready up 15 per cent, while its food hall be­neath John n Lewis’s Ox­ford Street flag­ship is do­ing g a roar­ing trade in Seedlip, the world’s d’s first non-al­co­holic spirit.

We know that the young es­chew booze, ze, with 27 per cent of those un­der 24 deem­ing eem­ing them­selves ab­sti­nent. How­ever,wever, more and more it feels as if it isn’tn’t only mil­len­ni­als who are step­ping ping away from the sauvi­gnon. Re­cen­tent fig­ures from the Of­fice for Na­tion­alonal Sta­tis­tics showed the pro­por­tion por­tion of adults drink­ing al­co­hol is at the low­est level on record, with al­most ost half the pop­u­la­tion now shun­ning nning a reg­u­lar drink.

And nd just last week, spot­ting a grow­ing wing niche in the mar­ket, Pro­fes­sores­sor David Nutt, the psy­chi­a­trist and for­mer drugs tsar, an­nounced plans s to sell “al­cosynths”, a range of drinks ks that de­liver all the in­hi­bi­tio­nun­leash­ing ash­ing ef­fects of spir­its with­out the morn­ing-af­ter malaise.

How­everow­ever you shake or stir it, it seems we are wit­ness­ing ness­ing the rise of a “sobe­ro­c­racy”. ero­c­racy”.

On n Thurs­day, a hot new hap­pen­ing­pen­ing will hit the na­tion’s on’s cap­i­tal, called The Shine. Fresh from LA, the cultish­sound­ing nd­ing “vol­un­teer­pro­duced duced inspirational va­ri­ety ety show” will fea­ture ure mu­sic, bands, film, med­i­ta­tion, “mag­i­cal­gi­cal con­nec­tions” and sundry other forms of “en­lighter­tain­ment”. nlighter­tain­ment”. What at dis­tin­guishes this pop-up up event from other La-La a Land emis­sions is that its par­tic­i­pants – sorry, y, “mind­ful tastemak­ers” emak­ers” – will cre­atete an “al­co­hol-free vibe”: ”: drunk on con­scious­ness,scious­ness, while be­ing g stone cold sober. er.

Light ght Wak­tins, its founder, nder, tells me: “Sober ber so­cial­is­ing has long ong been a part of life fe in New York and Los An­ge­les. But peo­ple ple in Bri­tain are now start­ing to ask ques­tion­sstions about their al­co­hol hol con­sump­tion, and we want to con­trib­ute to that hat evo­lu­tion. If we can in­spire ire Lon­don­ers to have fun in this way, and it spreads to other places in the e UK, then The Shine is liv­ing up to itss in­tent.”

Cer­tainly, er­tainly, it feels timely: the seem­ingly mingly in­grained Bri­tish be­lief that nights ts out and nights in both re­quire al­co­hol hol is look­ing in­creas­ingly anachro­nis­tic. chro­nis­tic.

Dr r Richard Piper, CEO of Al­co­hol Con­cern, cern, iden­ti­fies sev­eral causes: “There ere are a range of fac­tors, all of which ch prob­a­bly play a role: eco­nomics,nomics, dif­fer­ent ways of so­cial­is­ing, de­mo­graph­ics, law en­force­ment, more ‘au­thor­i­ta­tive’ par­ent­ing styles, fash­ion, and a trend to­wards health­ier lifestyles. In gen­eral, there is fresh think­ing about what we put in our bod­ies. In some ways, this has the hall­marks of a move­ment.”

At this point, I re­veal that I am smugly

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