Tom Holland and other celebrities are joining the ‘sober curious movement’ — what is it?
In recent years, several celebrities have launched nonalcoholic drink brands and embraced sobriety.
Last week, Tom Holland revealed that he has been sober for over a year. The actor said he hopped on the wave of sober curiosity for the benefit of his mental health.
While filming “The Crowded Room” — an Apple TV+ series based on the 1981 novel “The Minds of Billy Mulligan” — Holland began to think more about the factors harming his mental health, he told Entertainment Weekly.
“Learning about mental health and the power of it ... has been something that has been so informative to my own life,” Holland told Entertainment Weekly. Through his experience Holland began “recognizing triggers” and “things that stress me out,” like social media.
“I’m no stranger to the physical aspects of the job, doing the whole action-movie thing, but the mental aspect, it really beat me up and it took a long time for me to recover afterward, to sort of get back to reality,” Holland added.
What does sober curious mean?
Sober curious individuals are individuals who take a closer look at their relationship with alcohol. The goal of the sober curious movement is for people to create a relationship with alcohol that works for them — whether that means abstinence, moderation or taking brief periods away from alcohol.
Joining the sober curious movement typically has nothing to do with a clinical addiction to alcohol but is rather a decision based on personal reasons, like physical or mental health, according to Good Rx Health.
“(Being sober curious) means, literally, to choose to question, or get curious about, every impulse, invitation and expectation to drink, versus mindlessly going along with the dominant drinking culture,” said Ruby Warrington, author of “Sober Curious,” and founder of Club Söda, per Verywellmind.
“My hope is that extending the invitation to get sober curious will help people realize that there are other ways to experience whatever it is (they) are seeking in alcohol — without the toxic, and often devastating, side effects,” Warrington added.
Some of the goals of being sober curious include: increased awareness of your drinking habits, being social without drinking, participating in sober activities (such as an art class or book club) and thinking about your decision to drink before partaking.
Benefits of taking a break from alcohol
Studies show that there are several benefits to cutting back alcohol consumption — even for moderate drinkers.
A 2018 study compared the health of men and women who abstained from alcohol for one month with a group of men and women who maintained their drinking habits. The researchers found that just one month away from alcohol had health benefits.
“They found that at the end of that month — just after one month — people, by and large, lost some weight,” says Aaron White, the senior scientific adviser to the director at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, per NPR. “They had improvements in insulin sensitivity, their blood pressure numbers improved and their livers looked a little healthier.”
Abstaining from alcohol can have positive mental health benefits, as well.
According to a 2019 study, quitting alcohol can improve mental well-being in women. Researchers found the lifetime abstainers had the highest level of mental well-being. Women who were moderate drinkers and chose to abstain from drinking completely experienced significant improvement in mental well-being and nearly reached the mental well-being of lifelong abstainers after four years of abstinence.
Long-term benefits of maintaining a sober lifestyle may include: improved sleep, lower risk of depression, increased confidence and improved relationships, per GoodRx Health.
In addition to Holland, several public figures have opened up about their own journey to sobriety recently and why they decided to examine their relationship with alcohol.
Model, television personality and author of three “Cravings” cookbooks Chrissy Teigen opened up about her decision to abstain from alcohol through Instagram.
“Not a drop of alcohol in 365 days!” Teigen wrote on Instagram in 2022. “I drank to end crazy anxiety that later mostly went away when I — get this — quit drinking!”
“I feel really good. sometimes I get really frustrated looking back on days I should remember way better than I do because of alcohol,” Teigen added.
Teigen celebrated 100 days of sobriety on “Today with Hoda & Jenna” in 2021. She claimed she decided to become sober because her drinking “got embarrassing.”
When Bradley Cooper moved to Los Angeles for his role in “Alias” he felt like he “was back in high school,” which hurt his self-esteem, per USA Today. “I could not get into any clubs, no girls wanted to look at me. I was totally depressed.”
He was soon “fired” from his role on “Alias” and recovering from an injury to his Achilles’ tendon. He turned to “mean humor” to feel better. It was actor Will Arnett who made him realized he had hit “rock bottom.”
“Will was like, ‘Hey man, do you remember we had dinner the other night? How do you think that went?’” Cooper said, per USA Today. “I remember being at the dinner thinking I was so funny, and I thought these two guys who were my heroes thought that I was so funny. I was like ‘I thought it was great. I thought I was killing.’”
But Will Arnett let him know he was wrong.
“That was the first time I ever realized I had a problem with drugs and alcohol. The guy that I think is doing mean humor is telling me the truth and it changed my entire life,” Cooper added, per USA Today.
Cooper claims he feels much better since quitting alcohol.
“Quite honestly today I can sit in front of you and tell you I have self-esteem and it’s not related to any outside thing. I didn’t have that for 46 years,” said Cooper, per USA Today.
Anne Hathaway chose to take a break from alcohol while she raises her son. The Oscar-winning actress explained that early mornings with a toddler and hangovers did not pair well.
“I quit drinking back in October,” Hathaway said on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in 2019. “I’m going to stop drinking while my son is in my house just because I don’t totally love the way I do it, and he’s getting to an age where he really does need me all the time in the mornings.”
Rob Lowe has been sober for more than 30 years. He credits his success as a father, husband and actor with getting sober, per Variety. “All of my understanding about life has come from getting sober and being in recovery,” said Lowe.
“One of the great gifts of recovery is that you start living your authentic life. You start living your actual values and living as who you truly are,” Lowe told Variety.
Lowe started drinking as a young teenager. His desire to give up alcohol came after missing an urgent call from his mother.
“One day back in the days of answering machines my mother called me and I could hear her voice on the answering machine. I didn’t want to pick up because I was really, really hungover and I didn’t want her to know,” Lowe told Variety.
“She was telling me that my grandfather, who I loved, was in critical condition in the hospital and she needed my help. And I didn’t pick up. My thought process in that moment was ‘I need to drink a half a bottle of tequila right now so I can go to sleep so I can wake up so I can pick up this phone.’”
Celebrities and their nonalcoholic drink brands
Blake Lively does not drink. The “Gossip Girl” star founded Betty Buzz, a line of nonalcoholic mixers in 2021 because “mixers are the unsung heroes of the drink world and deserve just as much love as alcohol,” Lively shared on the Betty Buzz site.
“I’ve been very proud of (Betty Buzz) and it’s been really cool and overwhelming to see people’s responses to it,” Lively told People in 2021. “It’s been really neat to see all of the non-drinkers who have come out and said ‘thank you.’”
Supermodel Bella Hadid began cutting out alcohol in 2021. She celebrated five months of sobriety in March in an Instagram post, and she does not see herself going back.
“I don’t feel the need because I know how it will affect me at 3 in the morning when I wake up with horrible anxiety thinking about that one thing I said five years ago when I graduated high school,” Hadid told InStyle. “There’s just this never-ending effect of, essentially, you know, pain and stress over those few drinks that didn’t really do much, you know?”
Hadid and Jen Batchelor co-founded Kin Euphorics, “a nonalcoholic, functional beverage, designed using ingredients that nourish mind and body.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
In 2021, The Rock launched Zoa, an energy drink made with natural caffeine and superfoods, per CNN.
“I’m humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve our eager consumers with ZOA — the ultimate healthy and immunity-supporting energy drink that’s the first of its kind, thanks to our unique combination of ingredients,” Johnson said in a news release.
In March, Katy Perry revealed she had been sober for five weeks. “I’ve been sober for five weeks today. … I’ve been doing a pact with my partner (fiancé Orlando Bloom),” Perry said, per People.
Perry and Morgan McLachlan co-founded De Soi — nonalcoholic apéritifs made with natural adaptogens — in 2022.
“We wanted a drink that was bubbly and delicious, but that didn’t get in the way of early mornings and long nights. A drink that was truly fun to sip on, and still allowed us to feel present and engaged while taking the lead,” Perry and McLachlan wrote on the De Soi website.