If you missed your chance for a health reset with Sober September — or are still on a roll with last month’s challenge — Sober October is another opportunity to try out not drinking for a month, Forbes reports. According to Forbes, Sober October is a month to reset your body before a holiday season that typically involves taking in more than the recommended amount of food and alcohol. Go Sober for October originates in the UK as an alcohol awareness campaign and a fund-raiser for MacMillan Cancer Support in the UK, but the challenge is picking up steam globally.
Going alcohol-free for a month, says Forbes, can also help your mind and body be more equipped to handle the winter blues by improving sleep, increasing energy, and improving nutrition. So, if you’re thinking about going sober for October, where do you even start?
Firstly, don’t think you need to go cold turkey in order to participate, says the Evening Standard, because if you currently drink more than the recommended amount of alcohol, it could have damaging effects. According to the Evening Standard, it’s totally fine to take baby steps to cut down your alcohol intake throughout the month.
“If you’re a heavy drinker, you should be careful about going cold turkey,” Dr. Fiona Sim, a former general practitioner and medical adviser to Drinkaware, told the Evening Standard. “Because your body has been used to having lots of alcohol,” Dr. Sim told the Evening Standard, “you may experience some very nasty side effects, including trembling hands, headaches and lack of appetite. The same can apply even if you’re a moderate drinker, although the side effects tend to more psychological, such as irritability and poor concentration. So unless you need to give up drinking quickly, you would probably find it better to cut down more slowly and steadily by having some drink-free days each week.”
According to Metro, some people report that going alcohol-free can have unwanted effects on their social lives because alcohol is such a common social lubricant. But, says Metro, there are a few different ways to make sure your social life is just as vibrant regardless of what beverages you’re consuming. Metro recommends just straight up telling the friends you’re most comfortable with that you’re going alcohol-free for the month. For social circles you’re less comfortable with, says Metro, partner up with someone who’s also going alcohol-free. If you feel uncomfortable explaining your alcohol-free status, Metro recommends drinking beverages that look like alcohol, like a club soda with lime, so you don't have to deal with annoying questions.. If all else fails, Metro recommends seeking alcohol-free activities, like checking out an art gallery or a book reading, which may help you discover new things to do anyway.
If you're worried about people judging you for your choice to go alcohol-free, Dr. Sim has one of the best pieces of advice on how to handle anyone who isn’t down for your Sober October goals. She told the Evening Standard, “Like anything else in life, it’s important always to be yourself and not be swayed by other people judging you or by thinking they are judging you... So please remember that if you think people are going to judge you harshly for drinking less, it is those people who have the problem, not you.”
Rock on, Dr. Sim. Whether you choose to participate in Sober October, it's exactly that: your choice. No one else has any say in what you choose (or don’t choose) to put in your own body.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for substance use, call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).