Sober October, much like its Dry January counterpart, is a month-long commitment to abstain from drinking alcohol.
It has gained traction in recent years as a powerful trend that encourages participants to set aside their drinking habits in exchange for a period of self-reflection, clarity, and wellness.
There are several techniques for staying dry during these 31 days, mental and physical health benefits to reap, and questions to ask yourself about your own sobriety as the month draws to a close.
What Is Sober October?
Sober October began as a personal challenge among a group of friends in an Australian youth health organization called Life Education.
This challenge, at the time dubbed “Octsober,” was soon co-opted by a UK-based cancer charity where it was eventually given the Sober October title.
Years later the Sober October trend was touted on the Joe Rogan podcast, where the comedian asked his millions of listeners to participate in the month of sobriety with him.
The trend has grown on social media into a global phenomenon, inspiring people to avoid alcoholic beverages for the entire month to gain a fresh perspective on their relationship with alcohol.
Why People Participate In Sober October
Whether they are sober curious, trying to improve physical health, or simply concerned about how much and how often they drink, people may be encouraged to give Sober October a try for several reasons.
Some of the most common reasons people participate in Sober October include:
- they’re noticing unhealthy patterns in their alcohol consumption, such as drinking whenever they’re upset
- they want to save money
- people in their family or friend group have a serious alcohol use disorder
- they’ve noticed a gradual increase in their own drinking or cravings to drink
- they’re curious about the health and wellness benefits
- they see it as a unique opportunity to break free from routine and embrace personal growth
- they experience mild withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking
Whatever the reason for pursuing sobriety for the entire month of October, there’s no doubt among healthcare professionals that this trend has a positive influence on the public.
Kim Homan, LMFT, clinical director at Tennessee Behavioral Health, shared her thoughts with us about the sober curious trend:
“Sober October isn’t just about abstaining — it’s about becoming aware of the effects of alcohol and improving overall well-being. A month without alcohol can lead to numerous health benefits, like better sleep and improved liver function.”
Benefits Of Sober October
Alcohol is a depressant substance that affects energy levels, liver function, quality of sleep, and much more. The benefits of alcohol abstinence can extend far beyond the month of October.
People who avoid alcohol for a month will likely notice improved fitness levels, weight loss, enhanced REM sleep quality, increased energy, and an overall improvement in their health.
Mental Health And Emotional Well-Being
Many people will experience heightened mental focus and clarity, improved mood regulation, reduced anxiety, and greater emotional stability when not regularly drinking alcohol.
Social And Financial Benefits
There’s no doubt that drinking can be a powerful social lubricant, but staying sober for the month will show participants that they can have meaningful relationships through sober social interactions.
Alcohol consumption can also be hard on the pocketbook. Abstaining from alcohol can undoubtedly reduce financial strain, particularly in people who engage in binge drinking.
Other benefits may include:
- clearer skin
- a boost to the immune system
- an opportunity to cultivate a new hobby
- a decrease in risk for heart disease
- fewer overall health issues
Tips For Staying Sober During October
Depending on a person’s relationship with alcohol, navigating Sober October can be very difficult, especially around holidays often associated with drinking, such as Halloween.
Mary Beth O’Connor, a board member of both the She Recovers Foundation and LifeRing Secular Recovery, has outlined several techniques and strategies for meeting the Sober October challenge.
Some of these techniques for maintaining commitment include:
- using the buddy system at social events with another person trying to stay sober
- staying busy with other activities when you would normally drink
- clearing the house of alcohol or putting it out of sight to reduce temptation
- creating mocktail beverages out of non-alcoholic drink mixers, or drinking non-alcoholic beer
- tracking the amount of money you save during the month
O’Connor notes that, upon completing the challenge,
“Many people find they can manage alcohol intake better afterward … [and] reduce overall alcohol consumption long-term.”
Questions To Consider At The End Of Sober October
For many, Sober October is nothing more than a fun experiment, but for others, it may be an urgent wake-up call as they realize that managing alcohol use can become a balancing act in their life.
Some of the questions worth asking yourself at the end of Sober October include:
- Were you able to give up alcohol for the whole challenge?
- If you were successful, what did you notice?
- Did you notice more restful, regenerative sleep?
- Did you feel less moody?
- Was spending time with friends and loved ones more enjoyable?
- Did your life feel more manageable?
- Are there any lasting changes or habits you want to carry forward?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, perhaps the abstinence strategy is something worth continuing.
How To Seek Help
If you felt that it was necessary for your health and well-being to take a break from alcohol, or you weren’t able to complete the challenge, you may want to consider looking into addiction treatment.
More than 14 million adults ages 18 and older have alcohol use disorder. If you or a loved one are questioning your alcohol use, it may be appropriate to seek the help of professionals to curtail your drinking.
“The problem with alcohol is that it is fun until it isn’t, but it is a relatively slow shift,” says Marilyn G. Stein, a certified allied addiction practitioner in Pennsylvania. “And drinking doesn’t raise an eyebrow, especially when compared to the opioid epidemic, but it should. [Alcohol kills] more people annually than opiates.”
There are an array of services designed to treat alcohol abuse, including:
- 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- inpatient rehab programs
- outpatient treatment
- behavioral therapy
If you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking, or alcohol has become a serious impediment to your life, entering a medical detox program can help you safely begin recovery under the supervision of medical professionals.
Communicating with a spouse or friend about alcohol abuse, or contacting an anonymous helpline, can provide you with emotional support to get the help you need.
While there is no universal solution for people who need help to stop drinking, recognizing that you may have an issue with alcohol use and understanding the different options for treatment is an important first step.
Find A Substance Abuse Treatment Center Today
Contact AddictionResource.net today and take your first step toward lasting sobriety.
Published on October 16, 2023
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
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- American Psychological Association (APA) — More people in the U.S. die of alcohol-related causes than from opioids and other drugs
- CNN — You may need a Sober October more than you think
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Taking a Break from Alcohol Can be Good for Your Health