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Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
Where Does My Call Go?
Updated on July 31, 2023
5 min read

What Is Sober October?

Sober October encourages people to give up alcohol in October. It originally started in 2014 as a fundraising campaign for the UK charity Macmillan Cancer Support.4 

The organization estimates that it helped 1.9 million people with in-depth, personal support and professional services in 2019.6

The Sober October fundraising campaign challenges social and heavy drinkers to change their habits for a month. 

The goal is to help them make healthier lifestyle changes. In doing so, they can help provide physical, emotional, and financial support to the millions of people who live with cancer.4

After all, heavy alcohol use can have harmful long-term effects. It is even linked to some cancers.2

  • Liver
  • Throat
  • Mouth
  • Larynx
  • Esophagus

Since the launch of Sober October, Macmillan Cancer Support has raised nearly $45 million (over £33 million). The money mostly goes to nurses and support staff. It also goes to creating copies of cancer resources for newly diagnosed patients.4

However, Sober October has morphed into a challenge around the world. Not everyone who vows to stay sober for October does it for charity. Instead, Sober October trends on social media like Dry January.

Dry January started in 2013 through another UK-based charity, Alcohol Change UK. At the time, 4,000 people signed up. 

By 2020, over 100,000 people signed up and four million took part in the challenge.9 In 2021, 6.5 million people participated in the biggest Dry January yet.9

The increase comes as no surprise. Doing a dry month is linked to greater wellbeing.8

To help, Alcohol Change published an Official Guide to a Month Off Booze. It also launched the Dry January podcast and an app, Try Dry.9

The Rules of Sober October Explained 

To raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, you can take on the Sober October challenge for 14, 21, or 31 days.4 The Sober October steps are simple:

  1. Sign up to the challenge here.
  2. Do not drink alcohol!
  3. Ask your friends and family to donate to your cause.

However, you do not need to participate in Sober October through the charity. While it’s a good thing to support the cause, you can always try a month of sobriety on your own.

Taking a break from alcohol can help you develop an awareness of your relationship with alcohol. 

You can also rally your friends to give up drinking in October with you. Having a support system can help you stick to staying sober. 


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What are the Health Benefits of Sober October?

There are significant health benefits of an alcohol-free October. Alcohol is a significant cause of disability and death.7

Taking a month-long break from drinking can have a huge impact on your health and overall wellbeing. The Sober October challenge will help you develop healthy habits around drinking. 

The first few days of Sober October may feel difficult for some. But the benefits are worth giving up those drinks.3

  • Boost your energy levels
  • Notice a big difference in your mood
  • Lose more weight if that’s a goal
  • Get better rest
  • Improve your blood pressure
  • Reduce your risk of cancer
  • Reduce your risk of liver disease
  • Reduce your risk of diabetes
  • Build a stronger immune system

Giving up drinks at social events can also save you money. You may spend less when cutting back on alcohol intake. Additionally, the month of sobriety can help you and the question "Am I an alcoholic?" and stop drinking altogether.

5 Tips for Making it Through the Month

It may not be easy to stick to sobriety for an entire month. The first week of Sober October is typically the most challenging. 

Here are some helpful tips to stay on track:

  1. Don’t keep booze around. It’s less tempting to drink alcohol if you do not have easy access to booze. Eliminate the temptation.1
  2. Encourage friends to join in. If you attend social events that typically involve alcohol, find other sober friends to do sober activities instead.1 You may even find friends to participate in the Sober October challenge with you.
  3. Write down your goals. Write down your goals in a diary.5 This can help to remind you why you’re quitting alcohol and help you hold yourself accountable. It can also help you better understand your relationship with alcohol.
  4. Do it for charity. Doing something for yourself is excellent. But doing something for others may help keep you more motivated. 
  5. Get professional help. It is safer and easier to go sober and stay sober with support. If you struggle with alcohol misuse, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Trying to quit an addiction alone is dangerous.

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What to Do Instead of Drinking Alcohol 

Sobriety does not have to be boring. There is a ton to do instead of drinking alcohol. 

Here are some alcohol-free options:

  1. Work out. Already, cutting back on alcohol is linked to weight loss. With exercise, you can take even better care of your body. Exercise also releases endorphins in the body to give you a natural high.
  2. Dive into hobbies. Throw yourself into new habits. Take up a weekly workout class or make going for long walks a daily routine. You may also choose to pursue a passion, such as enrolling in a creative class.
  3. Practice self-care. Take the month to focus on your physical health and mental health. Eat clean and give your body rest. You will notice a big improvement in your overall well being that motivates you to keep going.
  4. Dive into work you love. Speaking of a challenge, take on an exciting new project at work. Hustle on your side project. Sign up for volunteer work you care about.
  5. Go out with friends. You don’t need to drink to go out and have a good time. You can still go to bars, restaurants, parties, and concerts without drinking. However, if you are struggling with addiction, being around alcohol is probably not for you.

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Is Sober October for You? 

Sober October is for everyone. 

But if you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, do not go down the road to recovery alone. Seek professional help before it’s too late.

Updated on July 31, 2023
9 sources cited
Updated on July 31, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. 11 Ways to Curb Your Drinking.” Harvard Health, 25 Mar. 2020.
  2. Alcohol Questions and Answers.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Feb. 2021.
  3. Drinking Too Much Alcohol Can Harm Your Health. Learn the Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 May 2021.
  4. Go Sober for October.” Go Sober 2021.
  5. Is It Time to Rethink How Much You Drink?” Harvard Health, 1 Nov. 2019.
  6. Macmillan. Macmillan Cancer Support.
  7. Short-Term Abstinence from Alcohol and Changes in Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Liver Function Tests and Cancer-Related Growth Factors: a Prospective Observational Study.” BMJ Open.
  8. Temporary Abstinence during Dry January: Predictors of Success; Impact on Well-Being and Self-Efficacy.” Taylor & Francis.
  9. Why Do Dry January?” Alcohol Change UK.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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