Our Top Tips for Sober October
If you’re an adult living in the UK, statistics tell us that you likely drink more than the recommended weekly alcohol intake—you’ve probably quietly underestimated your drinking to a doctor or GP in the past. Whilst a bit of self-reflection when it comes to our supposed vices is never a bad thing, cutting down on our drinking doesn’t have to be a chore. If you’re thinking about raising a bit of money for a worthy cause this October and giving your liver some rest and recuperation, you shouldn’t be punished for your trouble. Here at Sentia, we like to think you can do your bit without resorting to mineral water or lime and soda.
Sober October, coined by Macmillan Cancer Support, is a straightforward idea: abstain from alcohol from the 1st of October until the clock strikes midnight on Halloween. Why? Well in the first instance, getting sponsored to complete the challenge is a great way to support people living with cancer—you can sign up here. But it isn’t all charity, hopping on the wagon, even temporarily can have a host of knock-on health benefits.
So… here’s the scary part: there’s a very good reason Macmillan Cancer Support champions Sober October. One of the main health harms of alcohol is the increased risk of a whole host of cancers. You might not be aware of this, and that’s not unusual, a recent study by the University of Sheffield found that 9 in 10 Britons were unaware of alcohol’s link to cancer. Whilst the most common health harm of regular alcohol consumption is heart disease, the risks of cancer start at a much lower level of consumption than they do. In fact, it was not disorders we commonly associate with heavy alcohol consumption like liver or cardiovascular disease that led the World Health Organisation to decide that no level of alcohol consumption is entirely safe, it was cancer. That’s why the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies all alcoholic drinks as carcinogens.
But there’s a silver lining here, the effect on your health of cutting down on booze is exponential. For example, halving your alcohol intake decreases your risk of death over the long term 8-fold. Even better, studies have shown that getting involved in a campaign like Sober October can dramatically improve your chances of reducing your alcohol intake going forward. Fortunately, you don’t need to be successful to get some of the benefits, but they do increase if you manage to last the month.
The effects of temporary abstinence are substantial. Your liver, which does most of the work in getting rid of the toxic by-products of ethanol in your body, takes an early hit when it comes to health harms. But the liver is an incredibly resilient organ and heals quickly if you give it a little time off, alcohol-induced fatty liver disease can be fully reversed after just two weeks off the sauce.
Why do Sober October? Some benefits to expect:
One of the primary reasons to participate in Sober October is for your health. Some of this is due to the long-term changes in behaviour that a month of abstinence seems to promote. Studies of Dry January showed that those who successfully completed the challenge saw a significant reduction in drinking days per week, and less booze means an exponential reduction in long-term health harms. Other changes are more immediate. A recent study in the UK found that all participants scored higher on mental wellbeing scales a month after completion of Dry January. On the physical side, 56% of participants reported improved sleep and 35% reported weight loss.
How to Achieve Sober October
Set Clear Goals
Defining your goals for Sober October. What do you hope to achieve during this month of sobriety? Whether it's improved health, mental clarity, or supporting a charity, having clear objectives can keep you motivated.
- Inform Your Friends and Family
Let your close friends and family know about your commitment to Sober October. Their support and understanding can be crucial, especially during social gatherings where alcohol may be present.
Keep the booze out of sight and mind. Replace it with non-alcoholic alternatives like Sentia to make the transition easier.
Have a plan for how you'll spend your free time. Explore non-alcoholic activities, such as yoga, and art classes, or perhaps get the gang together for a mocktail night—you can find a whole host of delicious concoctions to try out here.
Find a Sober Buddy
Having a friend or family member join you in the challenge can provide much-needed mutual support.
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, which can help reduce cravings for alcohol—but water isn’t the most exciting prospect, and Sentia Black is a great all-day option when you need to stay on target and focused.
Set up a reward system for yourself. For every successful week of sobriety, treat yourself to something special.
- Track Your Progress
Medical professionals recommend keeping a diary of your feelings, experiences, and any positive changes you notice throughout the month. Research suggests that journaling is one of the best ways to succeed in reducing your drinking.
SENTIA is on your side
Whether or not you last out the month, studies show that just having a go can help you reduce your alcohol intake in the long term. Taking a month off can be a daunting challenge in a world where alcohol is ubiquitous, whether it's at Friday night drinks, binging out to some Netflix, or a glass of something colourful over Sunday lunch. The good news is that giving up alcohol doesn’t mean consigning yourself to a glass of squash or a can of caffeinated high-fructose corn syrup. With Sentia on your side, you’re not cutting out the reasons we like to have a drink in the first place, which can’t hurt your chances this Sober October.