For a generation that’s also behind its forebears when it comes to wealth accumulation, whether or not it’s a good idea to buy a bunch of beer or several $13 cocktails three nights a week can come down to practical concerns. Alex Belfiori, a 30-year-old IT professional in Pittsburgh, decided recently to stop keeping beer in the house. “I’ve already calculated how much I’m saving by not drinking, and I’m thinking about where I can put that money now,” he says. Nina Serven, a 24-year-old brand manager living in Brooklyn, is similarly over it. “Drinking just feels boring and needlessly expensive,” she says, even though she feels social pressure to drink. “I just started a medication that shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol, and I’m relieved that I have an easy out.”
Britta Starke, an addictions therapist and the program director of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center at the University of North Carolina, sees a similar malaise in those seeking guidance from in her practice. “There does come a time when there has to be some introspection,” she says. “Folks in the millennial generation have maybe a better sense of balance. Some do yoga or meditation or are physically active, so they don’t need to find stimulation and stress-reduction in substances.” That mirrors the generation’s general interest in maintaining its health, and for those questioning their habits, realizing that a healthier relationship with alcohol doesn’t require most people to give up drinking might ease people’s social concerns.