Over the past decade, there has been a growing trend of people deciding to commit to sobriety in favour of drinking alcohol-free beer, wine and mocktails.
Whilst part of this comes from the growing popularity of the annual Dry January event, with each year seeing a record number making a commitment to their health and their wellbeing, another huge part of that is the rise of an entire generation of young people eschewing alcohol entirely.
According to the most recent data available from the NHS Health Survey, far fewer young adults drink, they are drinking smaller amounts and are more aware of the mental health benefits of drinking less.
There are a lot of reasons why, from the simple and resolutely straightforward to the wider and more complex, as well as the cultural effects this trend could have on various parts of British society.
The Solution Is Choice
The most obvious change over the past decade and beyond is the wider availability and much higher quality of alcohol-free drinks over the years, thanks to the wider availability of better brewing techniques and the ability to create a wide variety of booze-free brews.
This has made the beer world better and more accessible for people who do not want to drink alcohol, but for cocktails, the solution was far simpler.
Given that cocktails and a lot of mixed drinks are as much about spectacle and preparation as they are about the finished drink, mocktails can provide a lot of the same social experience simply by getting rid of the alcoholic parts.
The Snowball Effect
Many UK industries have a large and well-established drinking culture, to the point that the Palace of Westminster has eight of its own.
For the longest time, many businesses both big and small would have people clock out on a Friday afternoon and have almost the entire staff go to the nearest pub to have a drink and socialise.
Whilst this was not strictly mandatory, it did create an expectation that a lot of people who wanted to socialise, network and advance their careers would need to join in and provide a strong impression.
Whilst this is partly solved with alcohol-free options, another part of it is a snowball effect.
The more people realise they do not need alcohol to have fun, the more this is normalised and the better and more affordable the nightlife experience becomes for young people.
This is starting to enter the workplace itself and as the founders and keepers of workplace drinking cultures start to age out of their workplaces, the proportion of people who do not drink at all will increase, potentially reaching the point that has been seen with smoking.
The final big reason is a matter of rationality. Alcohol is expensive and has only been increasing in price. The average pint has increased by over a pound on average over the past ten years according to the Office for National Statistics.
There are the health benefits, such as avoiding long-term alcohol-related illnesses, hangovers and the mental health struggles that can sometimes be compounded by drinking too much.
These benefits have made the decision for many young people very easy.