Sober October is a trend that could bring real benefits to your life and it happens to coincide with Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Substance Abuse Prevention Month aims to recognize people working on their recovery and the people who have helped facilitate or support their recovery. Even if you don’t feel that your alcohol use is a problem, Sober October is an opportunity to experiment with sobriety and even gain insight into what it’s like to be in recovery. You may find that participating helps you learn more about yourself or what a loved one in recovery has gone through. It’s not only an opportunity to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol, you could enjoy a sense of clarity and other health benefits. Benefits of a Month of Sobriety No matter what your alcohol or substance use patterns are, you can benefit from Sober October. You may not have an addiction to alcohol, but you’re interested in the benefits of a sober lifestyle. This is also called being “sober curious.” Sober October gives you the chance to try it out. There are many benefits to taking even a short period away from alcohol or other substances. When you aren’t drinking or using substances, it can improve your general health. You may lose weight and reduce your risk of developing chronic health conditions. Heading into flu season, abstaining from alcohol can strengthen your immune system and help you be better prepared to fight off illness. Sobriety can help improve your mental clarity and may boost your memory and focus. You’re likely to find that your sleep becomes more restful when you’re sober. Being sober can increase your energy levels. You’ll have more time to put toward other interests or goals in your life. While there are undoubtedly benefits, challenges can also arise if you participate in Sober October. Giving up alcohol can be difficult and temptations may be present. Experiencing these challenges may help you better understand what loved ones in recovery often face not just as they initially get sober, but throughout the recovery process. This understanding can help you better relate and support them in their recovery journey. Alcohol Abuse in South Florida The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention characterizes excessive alcohol use as binge drinking or heavy drinking. Binge drinking is five or more drinks for men on one occasion. Binge drinking if you’re a woman would be classified as four or more drinks on an occasion. Heavy drinking is 15 or more drinks a week for men and eight or more drinks a week for women. According to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, around 16% of the adult population in the U.S. reported binge drinking and 7% reported heavy drinking. The results for Florida are in-line with these national averages. If you feel you meet the criteria of binge or heavy drinking, or if you have a loved one struggling with their alcohol use, participating in Sober October could be a starting point for addressing your problematic alcohol use or a strong show of support for your loved one. The Challenges of a Month in Recovery When someone seeks help for an addiction to alcohol or another substance, they are taking a life-changing step. Ultimately, it will likely lead to a better, healthier life, but it can be difficult at first. During the first month of recovery, there may be physical symptoms of withdrawal to contend with. There is also the realization that you will probably have to change nearly every aspect of your life. Many people also reflect on the effects of their addiction during this time, as well as the underlying causes that drove them to use substances as they work toward rebuilding. While someone who is sober curious or simply participating in Sober October may not decide to deeply engage in this kind of work, it can give them a glimpse into what the early recovery process is like. Sober October Origins Sober October wasn’t created by podcast personality Joe Rogan, but he did bring attention to it in 2017. Rogan decided to support a friend and fellow comedian struggling with alcohol and also wanting to lose weight. Rogan, his friend, and a couple of other comedians decided to challenge one another to Sober October. For Rogan, the challenge was less about alcohol and more about his use of marijuana. During their Sober October challenge, the group focused on not just remaining substance-free, but also being healthier and making fitness a priority. They demonstrated how you could remove substances from your life and replace them with healthier activities and alternatives. How to Participate Whether you’d like to abstain from alcohol or another substance, participating in Sober October is simply making a pledge to yourself and committing to not using alcohol or any other substances. It’s also an opportunity to talk about substance abuse and raise awareness about the importance of Substance Abuse Prevention Month, either with your family and friends, or by using your social media platforms to spread the word. You could also create a challenge for your social group. If you have other people participating with you, the challenge can become more fun and it can help you stay on track and accountable. If you have loved ones in recovery, you can share your commitment with them and let them know as part of your pledge to participate in Sober October, you’re learning more about their experience and gaining a deeper appreciation for what they’ve gone through. If you need professional support stopping substance use, we’re here to help. Contact us to learn more about addiction treatment options that can work for you. SourcesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention. “Alcohol and Public Health: Data on Excessive Drinking.” September 3, 2020. Accessed October 1, 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.” August 31, 2020. Accessed October 1, 2020. Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.