If you’re sober curious, wonder about the positive effects sobriety could have on your life, or you want to show support for someone in your life who’s trying to get sober or is in recovery, consider participating in Sober October.
Sober October coincides with Substance Abuse Prevention Month and is an opportunity to try out a sober lifestyle, even if you don’t feel your drinking is problematic or aren’t considering a life-long commitment to sobriety.
You can take the opportunity to renew your perspective by abstaining from substances. It may also give you more insight into how a loved one struggling with sobriety or in recovery might feel.
What Is Sober October?
Sober October is thought to have started around a decade ago overseas. However, in 2017, comedian Joe Rogan popularized it in the U.S. on his podcast. Rogan wanted to provide support for a friend and fellow comedian struggling with alcohol. He created a challenge to abstain not just from alcohol but also substances like marijuana during the month of October. Since then, Rogan has continued the challenge each fall.
With high rates of alcohol abuse in Washington and Oregon and substance abuse deaths related to other drugs like opioids, substance abuse prevention is more important than ever. For example, in Washington in 2018, there were 737 opioid overdose deaths. In 2018, Governor Kate Brown declared a public health emergency for substance and alcohol abuse.
What Are the Rules?
The only real “rule” for Sober October is abstaining from substance use for the month. Sober October is most commonly associated with alcohol, but you could do it with any substance. You could also include other habits you’d like to break in your personal challenge, or you could add commitments such as regularly exercising.
Whether you do it alone or with friends, make Sober October something that you commit to doing for yourself first and foremost. If you have specific rules you want to follow or other goals during this time, consider writing them down. When you write things down, it makes it more likely you’ll stick with them.
Alternative Ideas to Drinking
If you’re used to drinking in different circumstances, it can be challenging to adjust to not having alcohol. Filling your time with things that are productive or that you enjoy can help you with the challenges of Sober October. Alternatives to drinking include:
- Start a new workout. You can do this at home, or you can gather a group of friends and do workout challenges together.
- Create mocktails and experiment with different recipes.
- Practice mindfulness meditation. Learning to be mindful can become a coping mechanism you eventually rely on to deal with anxiety.
- Participate in a book club with your friends, whether in person or via Zoom.
Whether you’re participating in Sober October or someone who struggles with alcohol, it’s important to change your routine and do things that are different from what you associate with drinking.
Benefits of Sobriety
When you’re sober, even for only a month, it can help provide you with a sense of perspective and an opportunity to observe what helps you feel your best. Benefits of sobriety include:
- Without the effects of alcohol, you’re likely to feel more clear-headed. Cutting out alcohol can reduce brain fog, improve your memory and help you be more productive at school or work.
- When you step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself, it can help you feel like you can achieve other things in your life.
- If you struggle to feel like you’re getting enough quality sleep, cutting out alcohol can help. Alcohol diminishes the quality of your sleep and may be a big reason why you have trouble staying asleep or why you don’t wake up feeling refreshed.
- If you have anxiety or depression, alcohol can make symptoms worse. Not drinking can help you better manage your symptoms.
- You may feel physically better and more energetic without alcohol.
Challenges Those in Recovery Face
When someone is in recovery, they can face substantial challenges, particularly in the early days. For example, they may go through detox and withdrawal symptoms. It can also be difficult to face underlying issues and effects of addiction, and begin the hard work of rebuilding relationships and your life.
Participating in Sober October gives you the chance to experience both the benefits and the obstacles of getting sober and gain perspective into what it might be like for a loved one in recovery.
If you or a loved one need help getting sober and starting your recovery journey, we can help. Contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield to learn more about addiction treatment and a treatment plan that can meet your needs.SOURCES
- NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Washington: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms.” April 3, 2020. Accessed October 2, 2020.
- Monahan, Rachel. “Nobody Can Beat Oregon for Drug Use and Abuse.” Willamette Week, October 2, 2019. Accessed October 2, 2020.