Here’s something older generations never expected: more millennials live sober lives, choosing to nix the alcohol and opt for healthier, mindful options instead.
Studies around the world—from the United States to Europe to Australia—are showing growing trends of millennials living sober for a variety of reasons. As the last of this generation enters their 20s, they’re also establishing new societal trends that have Baby Boomers and Gen Xers wondering if the party is coming to an end when it comes to drugs and alcohol.
Drinking Trends Among Youth Are Going Down
Let’s get some things straight: millennials are not necessarily choosing to live an alcohol-free life as they are more willing to engage in sober activities.
A survey by Heineken in 2016 found that 75 percent of millennials prefer to drink in moderation. A report by The New York Post revealed that people aged between 18 and 34 preferred binging on Netflix over binging on alcohol.
Across the pond, another 2016 study by the UK’s Office of National Statistics showed that less than half (48 percent) of people aged 16 to 24 reported drinking alcohol in the past week while two-thirds (66 percent) of their Baby Boomer counterparts reported drinking alcohol in the past week. Similar trends were also reported in Australia, Spain, and Italy.
Despite movies like The Hangover and Girls Trip encouraging a wild night out, the characters might cater more to a Gen X audience while millennials enter a different scene.
Millennials Live Sober Because of Money, Health, and Career Goals
Psychologists have observed three main reasons for why millennials aren’t drinking as much as previous generations were. Using older generations as an example of how drinking affects a person over time, millennials have come to an understanding that they may not have the kind of money and time to use toward drinking—nor do they want to sacrifice their health for it.
Upkeeping a drinking lifestyle in downtown nightclubs, where a partygoer can easily spend $50 a night, is too much for a millennial’s budget, especially for those concerned about college debt and trying to afford their rent on top of it. And with more societal demands being placed on millennials to succeed, having a “work hard, play hard” mentality doesn’t cut it for millennials who place more value on their careers than Happy Hour.
“I think the pressures are higher because [young] people are seeing that even if you have a great degree, that does not guarantee you a job by any means,” said clinical psychologist Goal Auzeen Saedi to The Guardian. She noted that many of her patients opt for mindful activities, like yoga and meditation, rather than use alcohol as stress relief.
Another reason for why millennials live sober? Sober living has become synonymous with healthy living, and being healthy is an evergreen trend here to rule. More young people are shifting their mentality toward organic eating, yoga and exercise, as well as a longing to become more spiritually connected with their peers and world around them.
So, if alcohol is out, what’s that to make of nightlife culture for millennials?
Social Stigma Against Sober Living Gone, Bars Need to Catch Up
With the cutback on drinking comes the consequences of bars going out of business. According to the Nightlife Association, over 10,000 bars in the United States have shut down within the past decade and 6,500 nightclubs have either cut back their hours or gone out of business within their first year. In Europe, countries like the Netherlands and England are seeing 38 to 45 percent drops in their nightclub numbers, too.
That doesn’t mean millennials don’t want to have a social life, but it may be time for bars to switch up their routine from nightlife bar crawls to daytime juice crawls.
“I felt that it was hard to make meaningful connections with people who are buzzed—you’re not really meeting them, but rather the slightly-to-heavily intoxicated version of them, which may be uninhibited and fun, but it’s not real,” said Light Watkins, creator of The Shine, an alcohol-free social club in Los Angeles, to Buzzworthy.
Across the United States, a sober life movement is beginning to take shape as more dance and meditation clubs are popping up to give millennials a place to socialize, let loose, and still go to work right after. New York City’s Daybreaker pioneered this method, hosting vibrant raves at the sobering hour of 6AM. These events sell out quickly, with about 400 to 500 people showing up to rock out in the morning each time.
From “juice bars” to yoga-centric parties, sober events are trending as go-to activities to spend your weekend wisely while enjoying the comforts of your bed at night. In Chicago, Justin Henderson created sober event company Bender after noticing fewer people were purchasing alcohol at his events. He switched his business model to include rooftop yoga pool parties and midnight silent disco, and the events were a hit.
“I’m just one part of a much, much bigger movement that’s happening,” said Henderson to The Denver Post. “It’s not so much about whether alcohol is there or not … people are just looking for ways to connect around things that they value and are passionate about.”
Need Addiction Treatment? Come to Pathway to Hope
As more millennials live sober, people struggling with addiction are also seeing the benefits of living in recovery. Life after treatment can be just as energetic and full of new experiences than drugs and alcohol could ever give—and even better, people will remember what they did and who they met while sober.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance, try entertaining the idea of living sober and how much more enriching your life could be. Pathway to Hope can help you begin your journey toward recovery, providing you the tools to begin a new life. Feel free to call our 24-hour helpline at (844) 557-8575 and one of our addiction specialists will answer any questions you may have. Start your recovery today!