Why some people are going sober for October

Covid-19 has had a marked impact on many people’s drinking habits. Perhaps that’s why the annual drive to stay ‘sober in October’ is expected to be bigger than ever before. But what do participants get from a month of sobriety? Let’s take a closer look.

Lockdown libations and the rise of alcohol dependence

The stress of home schooling.

The isolation from friends (and, perhaps, non-isolation from family).

The ever-present background hum of genuinely traumatising news headlines.

Nobody was prepared for how mentally exhausting life would be in the age of Covid-19. And it’s easy to see why home drinking habits have changed during lockdown. In times of stress and uncertainty, alcohol provides an escape for many. A way to relieve boredom and refresh the mind. A way to punctuate the transition between day and night when your workplace and your home are suddenly one and the same. A way to hush some of the anxiety about your job, your family and your stocks of toilet roll. But then one drink becomes two. End of the week turns to everyday. Before you know it, home drinking is a habit. You’re in the tipple trap.

For others, lockdown has been an opportunity to reassess their relationship with alcohol. The sudden closure of pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues made people realise that those after-work socials, date nig

hts and drinks with friends were habituating almost daily alcohol consumption. The data backs it up. There’s been a marked increase in people seeking help for alcohol addiction. The British Liver Helpline has experienced a 500% increase in calls since the start of lockdown, while Alcohol Change UK’s website saw a 355% increase in traffic to the “Get help now” section of their website in the three weeks after lockdown began – compared with the same period a year earlier.

For so many reasons, Sober October is expected to be especially well observed this year.

Where has the trend come from?

Every year, as the sunshine of summer submits to the crispy leaves of autumn, thousands of people kick the bottle in support of the Sober October campaign. The movement was started by the Macmillan cancer support charity and challenges social drinkers to change their habits for a month and make some healthy lifestyle changes. You can find o

ut more here.

What do you get out of it?

The idea of foregoing alcohol for a month can be hard to swallow. But, of course, there are benefits. You can expect to have more energy, better sleep, clearer skin, more mental clarity and no more “hangxiety” – that unique feeling of worrying about drinking too much the night before. A dry spell also gives your liver time to repair and recuperate from any damage that’s accumulated from recent drinking during lockdown. On top of all that? More money in your pocket.

This isn’t about having an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. It’s about acknowledging that taking a month off can be great for your mind and body, while giving you a chance to evaluate your relationship with alcohol to make sure everything is shipshape. Saying no to alcohol for a month is a fantastic achievement and will help you to zero in on how alcohol really makes you feel, physically, emotionally and mentally. There’s a lot to be said for that.

Tasty alternatives to alcohol

Enjoying a drink isn’t always about needing alcohol. It’s often more about the taste. Sometimes nothing compares to a cold pint at the end of a long day, or that first sip of red wine while you’re cooking up something special in the kitchen at the weekend. Water just doesn’t stack up as an alternative in the taste department.

The good news is that there are plenty of treat-worthy beverages out there that provide that little sparkle without getting you sozzled. Best of all; fancy soft drinks can be super healthy too, nourishing your body as well as your taste buds.

Here are four of our favourites.

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