In most cases, occasional alcohol use won’t harm your health. However, drinking too much or too often can cause serious problems, including alcohol addiction.
That’s why it’s important to evaluate your relationship with alcohol and its effects on your health.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to do so, you can join the Go Sober For October movement.
Founded in 2014, Go Sober For October is an annual movement that encourages people to celebrate “Sober October” by giving up alcohol for the month.
It started as a United Kingdom-based fundraising campaign for Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity that provides health care and financial help to people with cancer.
Today, the movement is observed around the world. While not required, many participants (also called “soberheroes”) continue to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and other charities. Some common fundraising methods include:
- asking friends and family for donations
- posting about the movement on social media
- hosting a bake sale
- charging a small fee to be the designated driver
In addition, if you donate £15 (about $20) to Macmillan Cancer Support, you’ll receive a golden ticket, which lets you drink alcohol for one day. Most people use golden tickets for special occasions, such as weddings.
Even if you only drink sometimes, going sober offers significant benefits. For example, you’ll lower your risk of health issues such as:
- high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke
- weakened immune system
- liver problems
- depression and anxiety
- cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum
Alcohol can also disrupt your sleep patterns and prevent you from getting deep, restful sleep. You may then experience symptoms of insomnia or worsen sleep apnea.
When you quit alcohol, you’ll sleep better, enjoy a boost in energy, and improve your mental health.
Sober October also makes it much easier to maintain a healthy weight, as alcoholic drinks often cause weight gain. That’s because they’re high in calories and, in many cases, sugar. They also impair your judgment, which can lead you to eat large amounts of junk food. When you drink, your body must focus on breaking down alcohol instead of burning fat.
In addition, alcohol disrupts communication between your brain cells. That’s why it can cause cognitive issues such as trouble concentrating, learning difficulties, and memory loss.
Most people who drink spend a lot of time recovering from hangovers. When you go alcohol-free, you can devote that time to healthy activities such as exercising, meditating, or cooking nutritious meals.
Going sober can also save you money, as many types of alcohol are quite expensive. Since alcohol impairs your judgment, it can lead to impulse buying.
Some people like the idea of a Sober October challenge but can’t imagine going an entire month without alcohol.
However, when you tell friends and family about your plan to go booze-free, you’ll feel more motivated to stick to it and your loved ones can encourage you to overcome alcohol cravings.
To prevent people from offering you drinks at parties or other social events, bring your own non-alcoholic beverages, and always have one in your hand.
Also, if possible, invite a sober friend so you don’t feel like you’re the only person not drinking. If you experience a strong urge to drink, consider leaving the event.
If anyone in your life seems unsupportive of your efforts, you may want to limit your time with them. You’ll find it much easier to cut out alcohol if you surround yourself with people who understand your decision and won’t offer you drinks.
To get through the month, you can get your mind off alcohol by engaging in healthy activities such as:
- walking, running, or biking
- spending time with loved ones
- painting or drawing
- making music
Even after October ends, these activities can help you lead a healthier, more fulfilling life.