Sober October

Up until my recent challenge of the Alcohol Free Year, I made it a habit to take one month off of drinking each year. This year I will be participating in Sober October. As a resident of a state in which recreational marijuana is legal, I still consume other drugs outside of alcohol. But it seems like a good idea to reinforce my process of discipline, growth, and self-discovery with a month away from it all.

In the past I have participated in Dry January, which seemed timing wise; most people could use a good break after the holiday season. A time of resolutions and peer pressure (which can sometimes be positive) can make the new year a good time. There are tremendous benefits to be had by practicing discipline over long periods of time. Withholding pleasure or vices can be very useful in creating a good life. This can be practiced many ways: fasting, Lent, sober months, weight-loss challenges, and so on.

I recently picked up some inspiration from Joe Rogan, a popular comedian and podcast host, who has been practicing Sober October for the last few years. Though he is not the creator of this specific challenge, he has spread its popularity with his podcast and has given it his own flavor. Joe is an advocate for a variety of controversial substances including marijuana and psychedelics, and is a regular consumer of alcohol, but during October each year he challenges himself and a few friends to give himself one month free of all intoxicating substances.

So why take a month off?

Your Health

This should seem pretty obvious, but it’s worth reinforcing this point. The poison is in the dose. Alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs can theoretically have benefits to the body and mind, but the dose is the critical element. How much are you consuming and how often? If you are constantly consuming drugs, the body has to work around the clock to clean and detoxify itself, always seeking homeostasis. Taking a month off can give your body a much needed break, allowing it to give the systems a deep clean, restoring vitality and health.

Additionally you will notice other benefits like higher levels of energy, weight loss, and a more positive mental attitude. Alcohol and other drugs can affect your sleep, which can have terrible effects on your productivity and mood. Even just getting a full month of restorative sleep will be like giving yourself a month long vacation. Cutting out alcohol will cut out a lot of calories, leading to weight loss, which will also reinforce your energy levels. Do it for yourself. You will feel better at the end of the month, that’s something I can promise you.

Resetting Your Tolerance Levels

We build up tolerances to all substances. The more we consume something, the more our body and mind become accustomed to its effects, therefore requiring more of the substance to feel it. The more alcohol we drink, the more sugar we eat, or the more marijuana we smoke, the more our body gets used to it, thereby requiring higher doses for the same effect. So taking a month away from these substances swill help reset our tolerance levels. This can help us require less of these intoxicants in the future, and can help us to realize that we don’t need as much as we once believed we did. Be cautioned: your first drink or smoke after the month will be much more powerful, so don’t overdo it!

Building Discipline

Withholding pleasure requires discipline. Discipline is key to a good life. Discipline can make the difference between a successful person and someone who never gets off the ground. Taking a month away from intoxicants requires you to find joy and pleasure in other things. Discipline has greatly affected my life, showing me that the hard things, or the things I don’t always want to do are what ultimately adds the most value to my life. When I would get stressed I used to reach for a glass of wine to soothe. It’s easy, fast, and delicious. Now I recognize the stress, and have disciplined myself to meditate or journal to soothe myself. It’s not as easy or fun (at the beginning), but by the end of it I feel so much better. Withholding short-term pleasure for long-term growth will make you a better person, and you will be happier in the long run.

Build Community

Going it alone is not always the best way to take on big challenges, and for some of us, a sober month is a big challenge. Invite your friends, encourage your family, or talk to your co-workers about joining you. You will encounter surprising moments where it will be useful to have someone to reach out and talk to. Just knowing that you aren’t alone in this challenge can help you greatly. Working with others to grow and discipline yourselves will create tighter bonds, enriching your life with something that we are all craving: connection. Many people reach out to addictive and intoxicating substances because they are missing community and connection. We are taught that these substances will make us happy, and when we don’t have that connection we can end up depressed and addicted. Reach out to a friend or a loved one and ask if they will support you during this month.

So what are your reasons? Are there any others that you can think of? Do you have someone you want to reach out to and challenge? Are you up for challenging yourself?

Here are some resources for you should you choose to take on this challenge:

Sober October - MacMillan Cancer Support

17 Benefits of Having a Dry Month - Bolde.com

6 Suprising Things I Learned From Being Sober for A Month - Thought Catalog

What Sober October Taught Me - BTRtoday.com