What Sober October Says About Alcohol, Addiction And Recovery
What Is Sober October?
Well, folks, it’s that time of year again. No, not Dry January, but Sober October, a popular challenge that many have undertaken that entails them pledging to give up alcohol for the duration of the month.
The practice originated as a fundraiser for a British charity called Macmillan Cancer Support, but it has since become a wider spread cultural trend, having been mentioned in prominent American news outlets from Refinery 29 to the New York Times.
And in the unique year of 2021, Sober October is gaining attention because it appeals both to people who have increased their alcohol intake during the pandemic and are now looking to clean up their act and to people who found that they enjoyed the lighter-alcohol lifestyle that forgoing the bar scene introduced them to and want to keep the good health vibes going.
The holiday has also become a reason to embrace the fact that sobriety is not only acceptable but straight up trendy. For instance, some experts have remarked on the increasing amount of upscale alcohol free lines or beer, wine, and spirits that are now hitting the market.
These products appeal not only to those who must forgo alcohol for their physical and mental health but to those who are “sober curious,” which means that they may not want to stop drinking all together but who want to cut back and to reevaluate the central role alcohol plays in their life.
Sober October has thus become a time to celebrate and highlight alcohol free bars and events, emphasizing the fact that building community and having a whole lot of fun are entirely possible without the help of alcohol or any other mind altering substances, whether somebody is giving them up for a season or for good.
Benefits Of Giving Up Drinking
Though the health risks of a severe alcohol use disorder are extreme, the more moderate amount of alcohol that many Americans regularly consume isn’t doing most of us too many favors either. Taking even a month off from alcohol can give your system a chance to recover and reboot. This could potentially improve your cholesterol levels and boost your immune health, which could be particularly important if we end up facing another winter beset by the coronavirus or even the plain old flu.
Giving up alcohol for a month may also result in weight loss, both because alcoholic drinks and the sugary mixers that liquor is routinely served with have calories in and of themselves and because being drunk doesn’t necessarily lead to making the best food choices. Time at the bar could take time away from healthier habits like exercising or from preparing a wholesome home cooked meal.
And as to why forgoing alcohol was such a fitting cancer fundraiser in the first place? It’s because several different types of cancers, including liver, colon, breast, head, neck, esophageal, and rectal cancers, are all correlated with higher alcohol intake.
If you celebrate Sober October, you may also find that you save money by forgoing overpriced and underwhelming bar tabs, and that you are enjoying better sleep, and thus more energy and an improved mood. Hopefully, you will also enjoy the clearer head that sobriety affords you, and experiencing these physical and mental health benefits will inspire you to keep your alcohol intake lower even once the Sober October challenge has come to an end.
On a psychological level, committing to giving up alcohol for a month can also help you to become more aware of what personally triggers you to abuse alcohol, whether that ends up being certain people or places or certain emotional states. You can thus learn to avoid these triggers or to find healthier ways of dealing with them, and thus will be well on your way to having a better relationship with alcohol not only for the month of October but through to the end of the year and beyond.
What If I’m Having Trouble Cutting Back?
On the other hand, for some people, Sober October could be a much needed wake up call that something more serious is off with their drinking habits. According to the CDC, as many as five percent of American over the age of 12 may be suffering from an alcohol use disorder, and less than eight percent of them received any treatment for their condition over the last year.
The majority of those who did seek treatment did so for an alcohol related medical problem rather than alcohol use itself, by which point someone may have already done irreversible damage to their body. Staying proactive about your alcohol intake is essential to maintaining your health.
Medical professionals advise that, from a physical health perspective, women should not be drinking more than one serving of an alcoholic beverage per day while men should not be drinking more than two. Of course, there is a large gray area between this suggested upper limit and a full blown alcohol use disorder, but if you’re regularly exceeding this benchmark and have been unable to cut back on your own, you may want to take a look at this list of signs that you are suffering from an addiction to alcohol or are at a high risk for developing one.
- Being unable to hold yourself to any limits that you set on your alcohol consumption
- Spending much of your time drunk, recovering from the effects of drinking, or thinking about when you will next drink
- Drinking in risky or forbidden places, such as at work or before driving
- Doubting your ability to handle social situations without having alcohol as a crutch
- Ignoring responsibilities or obligations in order to drink
- Drinking in secrecy and making an effort to hide how much you are drinking from friends and loved ones
- Isolating from family members or friends so that you can drink more
- Frequently binge drinking or drinking to the point of blackout
- Making excuses for your excessive alcohol intake instead of trying to deal with the problem, and becoming defensive if confronted about it
- Feeling irritable, anxious, or depressed if you are not drinking
- Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms like tremors or flu-like symptoms when you attempt to stop drinking or to cut back
Get Help For An Addiction At The Reco Institute
Though it is now too late to take on the entire 2021 Sober October challenge if you haven’t already, some choose to take it on for only half of the month as a fifteen day challenge, and there’s nothing to stop you from declaring your own sober November or December if you feel like experimenting with sobriety before Dry January.
And if you’re already sober? You can still hop on the Sober October self improvement bandwagon by taking up a different healthy habit for the month, like trying to cut back on your sugar intake or sticking to a new exercise routine.
But if you or someone you love is currently exhibiting any of the signs listed above and is struggling with an addiction to alcohol or to any other substance, the difficulty that many people have in cutting alcohol out for even a months’ time emphasizes the fact that there is absolutely no shame in asking for professional help. To learn more about Reco Institute and how our sober living residences and associated intensive outpatient program could be just the thing to kick start your recovery, call us today at 561-665-5925 or contact us online here.