Cover: Sober Curiosity and Participation in Temporary Alcohol Abstinence Challenges in a Cohort of U.S. Emerging Adults

Sober Curiosity and Participation in Temporary Alcohol Abstinence Challenges in a Cohort of U.S. Emerging Adults

Published in: Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Volume 85, Issue 2, pages 201–209 (March 2024). DOI: 10.15288/jsad.23-00137

Posted on rand.org Mar 18, 2024

by Daniel Siconolfi, Joan S. Tucker, Eric R. Pedersen, Lilian Perez, Michael Stephen Dunbar, Jordan P. Davis, Anthony Rodriguez, Rachana Seelam, Elizabeth J. D'Amico

Objective

Thus far, behavioral health research in the United States has not explored the prevalence or correlates of sober curiosity (SC; exploratory or experimental abstinence or moderation) or temporary alcohol abstinence challenges (TAACs; e.g., "Dry January"), despite significant attention in media and popular discourse. We explored these activities in a sample of U.S. emerging adults (e.g., ages 18-29), a population with higher-risk drinking behavior yet some of the lowest rates of treatment engagement for alcohol use problems.

Method

Survey data were collected in 2021-2022 among participants (n=1,659; M age=24.7 years). We assessed SC awareness/engagement and past-year TAAC participation, and differences across demographics and behavioral characteristics.

Results

Overall, 9% of emerging adults were familiar with SC and 7% had participated in a TAAC in the past year. Half of TAAC participants reported drinking less after the TAAC, and 15% remained abstinent after the TAAC ended. SC familiarity and TAAC were both associated with past-month heavy drinking, cannabis use, higher Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores, more past-year alcohol and cannabis consequences, past-year substance use treatment, and greater readiness to quit alcohol.

Conclusions

Both SC and TAACs may have potential to engage young people with a desire to moderate or eliminate their alcohol consumption. This may occur directly through use of these strategies or by helping them connect to additional services. Future research can help the field understand the uptake of SC and TAACs, gauge efficacy, and identify avenues to link young people to resources and interventions.

Research conducted by

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