The GuardianThe Guardian

Last orders: How we fell out of love with alcohol

By Michael Segalov

15 Jan 2023 · 11 min read

Editor's Note

With an increasing number of young people choosing sobriety, The Guardian asks what society would look like without alcohol and explains some of the benefits.

Cheers and mazel tov! We’ve made it halfway through January. Yes, our bodies endured a pounding through the festive frivolities, but through that excruciating cumulative hangover we somehow survived. Our recycling bins have been collected, those bottles of bubbly out of sight and mind. New-year-new-me resolutions can now be abandoned. Anyone fancy a pint?

Or this year, does another round feel less appealing? You’re far from alone if, in 2023, you’re considering calling time once and for all. Welcome to the era of the sober-curious; the apparently ever-growing movement of people exploring what life could look like alcohol-free. Among young Brits, the numbers look irrefutable: between 2002 and 2019, the proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds in England who reported monthly drinking fell from 67% to 41%. And while the stats don’t show older adults putting down the plonk on a permanent basis, something is shifting. According to Dry January’s organisers, this year one in six UK adults who drink alcohol are attempting to participate. Alcohol-free beers were once a fringe choice; today they’re found nationwide on supermarket shelves. No longer do 0% orders come with a side of pregnancy questions or bemused stares.

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