Sober October offers Ohio residents an opportunity to experience a potentially different side of life by exploring sobriety. Sober October also creates the chance to connect with friends and family in recovery themselves and develop a sense of empathy for some of the challenges they face.
According to data from the Ohio Health Department, nearly 16% of adults reported binge drinking. This was more prevalent in men, with 21% of men and 11% of women in Ohio reporting binge drinking. These rates are even higher when looking at just 18 to 24 year olds.
In many cases, someone who drinks excessively wouldn’t be diagnosed as an alcoholic, but that doesn’t mean their alcohol use isn’t a problem. Abstaining from alcohol even for a short time can help improve your mental and physical health, making Sober October a great option for 2020.
October also happens to be National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. National Substance Abuse Prevention Month is a time to highlight the role of substance abuse prevention for communities and individuals, to recognize people in recovery, and also to celebrate their support systems.
What Is Sober October?
Sober October is similar to the concept of Dry January, but perhaps with a bit more festive name. The idea is to eliminate alcohol and, if you want, any other substances, for 31 days. You can make it your own and decide how you’d like to manage your Sober October.
The idea of Sober October isn’t new, but it was popularized here in the United States when podcaster Joe Rogan did the challenge in 2017. Rogan is open about his use of substances like marijuana and mushrooms but he came together with three comedian friends to face their vices head-on. Initially, the goal was to help comedian Bert Kreischer deal with his drinking and resulting weight gain.
The friends turned it into a bet, and while it first included only alcohol, Joe committed to not smoking any marijuana during the month. The challenge caught on as fans began to join in and Sober October has become a tradition and a jumping off for some people to explore or commit to sobriety.
Rules for Sober October
The primary rule for Sober October is that you don’t consume alcohol during the month, but you could also include other substances or even other bad habits. For example, maybe you commit to using less social media or taking better care of your overall health and wellness.
The Challenges of a Month Off from Substances
There are challenges of abstaining from substances for a month, but these challenges are amplified for people who are dependent on alcohol. Quitting alcohol cold turkey can be dangerous, so consult your doctor and create a plan before you abruptly stop drinking.
Some other challenges include things like:
- You may have to change your habits, which can be tough to do, especially in a short period.
- If you’re participating in social events or celebrations, you may find it challenging to remain committed to Sober October.
- You could be using alcohol or other substances to help you deal with difficult emotions, such as anxiety. When you’re not using those substances for a month, you may have to confront those emotions and work through them.
While going sober for October may help you experience what some of the early recovery process is like, someone who’s committed to addiction treatment and long-term recovery will have taken even more steps and faced additional challenges.
People seeking treatment for substance use disorders also often have to go through physical detox, which can be uncomfortable and may require medical care. They may then participate in either inpatient or outpatient treatment programs that help them understand and cope with the underlying contributors to their addiction.
Often someone in recovery has to make changes in their daily routines to avoid potential triggers. This could mean choosing new friends, participating in support groups, and avoiding places and situations associated with their substance use. Someone in recovery may have to rebuild their life completely including relationships, finances and their career.
Benefits of Going Sober
Even if you’re not living with an addiction, being sober can have many benefits, including:
- It gives you a chance to evaluate your relationship with alcohol and determine whether or not long-term changes might need to be made.
- Many people find that Sober October helps them lose weight and get back on track with their health and fitness goals.
- You can spend more time with your loved ones while clear-headed and present in the moment.
- Cutting alcohol out even for a month can boost your immune system and improve your energy levels.
Sober October can be a good way to challenge yourself mentally and physically. Sober October can help you change your perspective and maybe make positive long-term changes. It’s also a time to show support or gain greater understanding for your loved ones who may themselves be sober and in recovery.
If you’d like to explore substance use treatment programs, reach out to The Recovery Village Columbus. We can provide you with information about treatment programs and answer any questions you may have about options that could work well for you.
- Sleesman, Justina MPH and Sobotka, Holly MS. “Ohio 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Annual Report.” Ohio Department of Health, 2018. Accessed September 20, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Alcohol and Public Health: Data on Excessive Drinking.” 2020. Accessed September 30, 2020.
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network. “National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.” Accessed September 30, 2020.
- Bjornsson,Ynja. “After a wet September, it’s a dry Oc-sober.” ABC News, September 30, 2010. Accessed October 7, 2020.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village Columbus 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.