Ask Yourself One Question Before Doing ‘Sober October’

YOU’VE SEEN THEMInstagram posts and social “proof” Sober October is in Full swing.

Following Dry January, the sober curious movement and alcohol-free bars in the past, Sober October is exactly that: zero booze for 31 days of the month.

It’s possible that Sober October came at a more perfect time than it did. The last 18 months have seen an increase in alcohol sales, with some reports reporting a 56 percent increase.

As a registered dietitianI support the trend of people trying out experiments that encourage them examine their alcohol consumption. This is especially important given the current uptrends in drinking.

However, I have also seen and heard many people struggle to stop their behavior cold turkey, only for them to continue to struggle with long-term adherence.

For me, the line is Why?.

If you’re making an overnight declaration to stop something due to the consequences, that’s fine. This type of decision often comes with a lot of shame and negative self talk. Insert your average New Year’s I’ll-never-touch-chocolate-cake-again resolution. Or, maybe an even better example here: the I-drank-way-too-much-last-night-and-will-never-do-that-again swearing off. This type of thinking is something I have seen too many times and it rarely works.

So, just toss your hat in the Sober October, Dry January, or whatever next, and enjoy a celebratory overindulgence Nov, isn’t what I’d suggest as a long-term, behavior-change strategy for success.

Now this isn’t to say if you’ve made an October promise to yourself, forget about it—and double down on the booze instead. It’s a good idea to examine how much you drink and to experiment with cutting back.

I’ve had plenty of clients who have had weekend drinking evolve into them taking in more than the seven-drinks-a-week-recommend number per week—and it’s holding them back.

It is true that alcohol does not have any physiological benefits. Although many celebrate the health benefits associated with occasional alcohol consumption (possible heart disease, pleasure from indulgence), there is still much to be learned.

What It isIt is well-known that regular over-consumption can lead to serious health problems, including poor quality sleep, excessive caloric intake, and inability to concentrate.

So instead stopping cold turkey, maybe there’s an alternative.

happy multiethnic friends toasting drinks


I’ve lectured to groups around the world and constantly hear the same sentiments: People share that for them alcohol has become a crutch and, if they decline to drink, they’ve had shade thrown at them by others.

A group of women I spoke with said that when she enters a work event, she tip the server. NotInstead of bringing her drinks, offer seltzer or lime.

If Sober October is that for you—a chance to set some boundaries and see if you can stick to them—then good on you. It’s a chance to ask yourself important questions. Do you feel more awake the next day without drinking? Are your interactions with your spouse/kids/co-workers better with a higher quality sleep vs. a regular pass out on the couch in the evening? Are you … happier?

I’m not saying that it has to be months of drinking and months of not drinking.

There may be an alcohol spectrum where less alcohol is a better option. It’s not hard to see how this applies to good nutrition in general. Sometimes a little less is sufficient, but it doesn’t have be all or nothing.

Chris Mohr Ph.D.
Chris Mohr, PhD, RD, co-owns Mohr Results, Inc (, a consulting company for well-being.

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Source: Mens Health

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