Why Gen Z Is The Most Sober Generation

It must be hip to be square these days as new data reveals that each Gen Zer is estimated to be 20% more sober than their counterparts.

By Megan Murphy4 min read

Delving deeper into this topic unveils the truth behind our motivations to drink which can stem from social pressure and an abundance of alcohol-centric events. Are we making the decision to drink, or has society created an atmosphere that encourages us to view alcohol as a way to relax or overcome social anxiety?

Waking up after a night of drinking is notoriously one of the worst consequences of overindulging. The stomach ache, migraine, and hazy memories of (usually) regrettable decisions. Did I say that? Did I do that? How did I get here? Do I even want to look at my phone right now? Swirling thoughts in a pounding head only begin to describe all the problems that may arise from drinking. 

But most of us are not alcoholics, right? It was just a birthday, a family reunion, a celebration, a work function, seeing old friends, or a long weekend. These events seem to stack up pretty quickly, as can our alcohol consumption. An occasional drink is nothing to sweat over; however, habituation and social pressures can easily turn the once-in-a-blue-moon cocktail into a regular occurrence. 

Documenting Our Drinking on Social Media

The permanence of online posts is a harsh reality we’ve all had to face at some time or another. Designing our desired image is something we all face as we emerge onto a series of social networking platforms. Sharing our best images, accomplishments, and travel photos, and trying to maintain a color scheme are all aspects that run through our minds as we curate our online posts, regardless of the number of followers we have. There is an “it” girl in every social circle, and we all strive to be her. Beyond cute colors, outfits, and selfies, each of us can relate to working toward projecting the best version of ourselves online. 

Drinking can play a large part in our online presence, whether it's the classic *clink* boomerang or an image from an outing with friends littered with booze-driven decisions. Although these all seem harmless, are we projecting a narrative that doesn’t give the full picture of those alcohol-riddled days and nights? 

Younger generations are hyper-aware of their online presence in a unique way which can motivate them to design an image that they can be proud of through different stages of their life. I know for me, as I grew in maturity, my online posts changed drastically. I became more conscious of the possibility of future employers and close relatives viewing my page; this only increased once I got married and there was the added level of my husband’s friends, family, and coworkers. I was striving to create posts that represented my family and me in a positive light. This is a trend that can be observed through data collected in a Google survey which shows 49% of Gen Z is concerned with their online presence while drinking or with friends and 76% aim to achieve full control over all facets of their lives. 

The Majority of Gen Z Is Concerned About Their Health

Post-pandemic, many of us are more health conscious than ever before, and this is especially true for Gen Z. Mental health along with physical health have become the focus of many trends and videos online. This trend can be observed in data that reflects that 86% of Gen Z is concerned with their mental health and 75% with their physical health. The increase of various supplements emerging onto the market, as well as trendy athletic wear and equipment, are also representative of how brands are picking up on this increased health consciousness. 

In regard to alcohol consumption, surveys have found that more than half of Gen Z associated drinking with risky behaviors and anxiety. Most of us are familiar with the damage that typically arises from excessive drinking, like liver disease and accidents, but alcohol can pose a myriad of severe health concerns for women in particular that are not usually discussed. I was shocked to learn that alcohol can severely disrupt our hormonal balance, which can cause weight gain, acne, and other problems. A blog about mindful drinking posted on SunnySide said, “Alcohol can cause irregular menstrual cycles, worsen PMS symptoms, and lead to infertility. Even small amounts of alcohol, such as social drinking, can disrupt a normal menstrual cycle.”

Maintaining normal estrogen levels for premenopausal women is a key part of mental and physical health, as it can promote more stable moods, assist in general health, and even reduce our risk of breast cancer, osteoporosis, and dementia.

Although these side effects may sound scary, we have to remember that an occasional glass of wine or cocktail will not cause problems this severe. Instead, let’s view it as motivation to grab a mocktail once in a while – it’s better for you and your wallet! 

Celebrities Are Setting the Example

Lucy Hale, best known for her role as Aria Montgomery in Pretty Little Liars, recently celebrated her first year of sobriety. She described her struggles with drinking in The Diary of a CEO podcast with Steven Bartlett. Hale detailed a relatable experience of grabbing that third drink because the second one felt so good, then not having much recollection of the rest of the night’s events. She goes on to describe how she felt that alcohol consumption allowed her to tap into her “true self” and made her more fun, social, and attractive to boys, but later discovered that quite the opposite was true. Hale states, “I have an allergy to alcohol. I cannot drink. I view it as an allergy to alcohol. My brain doesn’t work the same way as someone who can have a glass of wine, it’s always craving more.”

There are many other celebrities who have also made the choice to enjoy a life of sobriety, including Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, JLo, Drew Barrymore, Natalie Portman, Christy Carlson Romano, and Naomi Campbell. Whether their choice to remain sober was a response to addiction, health concerns, or just a lack of interest, all of these celebs describe an increase in happiness and a reduction of stress. 

The Rise of the Mocktail

As more and more of Gen Z reaches the drinking age, it follows that this sober trend will grow stronger. Drink manufacturers and restaurants are catching on to this trend and rising to meet the demand now. 

Due to the influx of sober-curious people that are of drinking age, many bars and restaurants have begun to create mocktail menus. Mojitos are a great option for a nonalcoholic cocktail – they taste great and are loaded with electrolytes that can help with digestion! 

There are also a number of nonalcoholic alternatives emerging each day as more and more people decide to embrace sobriety. Many beer and wine companies have started to release zero-alcohol alternatives, and there are mocktail versions of popular drinks sold in cans, so you can still enjoy the taste of your favorite beverages without the side effects of alcohol.

Let’s remove the stigma around non-drinkers and embrace the health and financial benefits of choosing mocktails. In many cases, you may find that you lead the charge and offer others the option to order a mocktail too. 

Closing Thoughts

Are you ready to join the trend of sobriety and experience all the benefits of having more clarity, less stress, and working towards your health goals instead of against them? Remember your true self doesn’t need a substance to come out! Creating healthy habits begins one step at a time and you have the power to begin making these positive changes in your life today.

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