Sober October Tips

Sober October: How To Stay Drink Free On The Home Stretch 

The beginning of Fall means sweater weather, warm soups, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes. It’s also a month filled with challenges. As the leaves fall, it’s also an opportunity to shed old habits or reset after a crazy Summer. You’ll find your fair share of 30-day challenges this month, with none as popular as Sober October. It’s a period to abstain from alcohol for health and wellness reasons and charity. 

However, it can be difficult to stay on track. Many participants fall off the wagon as the end of the month approaches. Here are some ways Weekend Drinkers, Wine Moms, Boozy Brunch-ers, and everyone in between can stick to their goals.  

What is Sober October? 

You may have heard of Dry January, a one-month alcohol-free challenge to coincide with New Year Resolutions. There’s also Sober October, to be alcohol-free during the 31 days of the month.  

Sober October got mainstream momentum when Joe Rogan picked up the challenge in 2019. He’s participated every year since and encouraged his close comedian friends (and, by extension, his millions of listeners) to do the same. 

Rogan has spiced it up with added physical challenges, but the original Sober October started as a charity initiative in Australia in 2010.  

Go Sober For October came next in 2014. The Macmillan Cancer Support, a UK-based cancer charity, raised over 5 million pounds that year. Now anyone around the world can sign up for the challenge. While Sober October was conceived for cancer charity purposes, the challenge has helped thousands of people re-evaluate their relationship with alcohol, improve their health, and give up booze altogether.  

#soberoctober Rules 

The rules of #soberoctober are simple. First, you sign up for the challenge and select your target (31 days, 21 days, or 14 days). While you go through the challenge, encourage your friends and family to donate to Macmillan Cancer Support. 

From there, your job is to stay alcohol-free during the challenge. While it sounds simple enough, we generally struggle with staying on the course with challenges. For instance, 91% of people fail their New Year’s Resolutions.

For a potentially addictive substance like alcohol, this can have long-term effects on your health. However, there are a few ways to improve your chances of success, especially as it gets closer to the end of the challenge. Those tips are coming soon, so stick around. 

First, let’s review some of the benefits of a challenge like Sober October.    

Benefits of Sober October 

If you get to the end of Sober October or any other challenge (hooray!), you’ll immediately notice a few changes in your physical and mental health. These changes are hard to notice if you rarely drink or are a social drinker.

For those who binge drink once weekly or Gray Area Drinkers, the benefits are dramatic.

  • You’ll notice improved sleep. Studies show that even social drinking affects sleep quality. 
  • Your energy levels will increase. The mental clarity gained improves your overall motivation and drive.  
  • Sobering up melts fat on the body, particularly belly fat. As alcohol is high in calories and negatively affects digestion, you’ll notice an improvement in weight over time.  
  • Alcohol use causes hormone disturbances, like lowering testosterone in men. Quitting alcohol can restore hormonal balance. 
  • According to the Mayo Clinic, 3-4 drinks in one sitting increases blood pressure to unhealthy levels. You will see improvements in your BP after your challenge.  
  • Abstaining from alcohol may help cleanse or reverse a fatty liver.

Why is it so hard to stick to challenges? 

Following through on challenges like these can be difficult. In some cases, they can cause more harm than good. For example, the participant may feel upset that they’ve failed and resume drinking to unhealthy levels. 

When we tell ourselves that we want or don’t want something, it pops up everywhere. 

We notice the commercials on TV.

There seem to be more people around us drinking. 

Suddenly, we see more Instagram Reels and TikToks about alcohol.

These temptations make alcohol abstinence difficult. 

We want what we can’t have. 

There are also the multiple stressors we deal with daily. Work. Home. Health. Politics and world events. The list goes on. 

If alcohol use was an escape, it’s easier to fall off the wagon. If it’s mid-October or nearing the end of the month, here’s how to stay drink-free on the home stretch. 

  

5 ways to finish Sober October strong

1. Remember your WHY 

Sometimes, we go into these challenges because everyone else is doing it. Yet, we did not take the time to figure out our WHY. If there is no deeper cause, when temptation is at its highest or times get hard, it’s easier to drink.  

Keeping a promise to yourself is one of the best ways to build self-esteem and confidence. But why did you make that promise in the first place?

Is it for your health?

To be a better spouse, friend, or parent? 

For a bigger cause, like cancer?

What about Sober October is important to you? When times get tough, you can remind yourself of your WHY for that extra dose of motivation.

 

2. Track your progress daily 

While you can sign up for Sober October and track your progress digitally, these apps get lost in the clutter of our phones. Sometimes, it helps to get a paper calendar and marker so you can cross out the days of the challenge. You’ll be motivated not to break the chain. 

 

3. Watch your environment. 

With Oktoberfest parties still happening and Halloween parties going into full swing, it’s increasingly difficult to stay alcohol-free. You want to hang out with your friends and family, but these spaces will have alcohol. If your friends aren’t aware of your goal, they will encourage you to drink.  

If you can, look at the spaces and events you’ll be heading to in advance. Can you opt for alcohol-free events and spaces? If not, who can you go with that will hold you accountable? The right environment can be the difference between success and failure.   

4. Non-alcoholic versions can help 

If you find yourself in a social space with drinks, stick to non-alcoholic versions of your faves. Sparkling ciders and flavored seltzers are some great options. There are now zero-percent beers, zero-proof wines, and even non-alcoholic whisky options. If allowed, bring your own drinks to the event. 

  

Watch out for signs of alcohol dependency 

Sober October is not meant for people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) or alcohol dependence. The challenge is set up for people who occasionally drink, socially drink, or who are simply looking to improve their health and well-being.

Alcohol use disorder is experiencing difficulty or the inability to stop alcohol use, despite knowing the health and social consequences.

Many are unaware that AUD exists on a spectrum. And often it’s only when they quit alcohol cold-turkey an issue arises, such as a hard relapse.

For some people, quitting alcohol can cause mild to severe withdrawal symptoms.

These symptoms include sweating, anxiety, shaking hands, headaches, racing heartbeats, and several others. 

Should these symptoms arise, make sure to seek help immediately. This help could be in the form of a program offering medication assisted treatment virtually or in person.

   

You can finish Sober October successfully!

Challenges are meant to make us become better versions of ourselves. The Sober October challenge may help you mentally and physically. Keep reviewing the reasons why you started and track your progress. Celebrate small wins, especially when you hold off temptation. 

While we are advocates for the challenge, it’s important to assess your alcohol use first to ensure you’re not struggling with alcohol use disorder. This simple step ensures that the challenge is safe and fulfilling.

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