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Updated on April 5, 2023
6 min read

Sober September

What is Sober September?

Sober September is a one-month sobriety challenge. It’s similar to Sober October and Dry January. 

These challenges offer an opportunity to take a break from drinking alcohol. There are physical, mental, and emotional benefits. It offers a chance to reflect on your alcohol consumption and consider your relationship with alcohol.

Sober September lets you focus on self-care with the support of other participants. The challenge is right for anyone who:

  • Is sober curious
  • Wants to change their existing drinking habits 
  • Feels social pressure when trying to make changes
  • Wants to curb binge drinking habits 
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Sober September - Benefits & Tips

What are the benefits, and how can you improve your chance of Sober September success?

Benefits of Sober September

Sober September provides several benefits, including:

Physical Health Improvements

Studies show a month without alcohol lowers liver fat, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.1, 2

Community Support

Drinking tends to be a social activity. This makes it difficult to cut back or take a break. However, when you’re part of the Sober September community, you’ll have the support of others who share your goals.

Reflection Time

A month-long break from alcohol provides mental clarity. Participating in a sober challenge doesn’t mean you’ll give up alcohol forever. However, it gives you a few weeks to examine your relationship with alcohol. It’s a chance to assess its role in your life.

If a month-long break from alcohol is difficult, it could indicate that additional support might be needed.

Chance to Explore Sobriety

For some people, it’s difficult to imagine a social life without drinking. 

Sober September is a chance to experience life without alcohol. Many participants feel so much better during the challenge that they choose to cut back or eliminate alcohol long-term.

Motivation

Sobriety challenges are a fun, low-pressure way to make lasting change. For many participants, Sober September is an opportunity to drastically improve their drinking habits.

Tips to Stay Sober

Even if you don’t have a problematic relationship with alcohol, Sober September can be challenging. The following tips can help:

Find Alcohol Substitutes

Drinking is a social activity for many people. A sober challenge can put your social life on the back burner. 

One way to pause drinking without sacrificing your time with friends is to have a go-to non-alcoholic beverage. Mocktails are great for giving you the social experience of drinking without alcohol.

Pair Up

You’ll get social support online if you participate in a social challenge. But you can get real-life support if you buddy up. Even if your buddy isn’t interested in changing their drinking habits, they can help you with accountability.

Have a Plan

A few days before Sober September begins, look at your upcoming schedule. Consider how you’ll handle challenges, such as work events, weddings, or parties. 

Also, schedule a few fun non-drinking activities throughout the month.

Consider Your Routines

Is drinking alcohol part of your daily routine? Do you crack open a beer when you get home from work? Do you look forward to opening a bottle of wine at the end of a long week? 

Sober September is a great time to evaluate and alter your current routines.

Track Your Progress

Journaling throughout Sober September about your experience is a great way to evaluate your progress. It creates something to look back on once the challenge is finished.

Be Forgiving

Sober challenges aren’t failures if you aren’t 100% successful. 

Slipping up doesn’t mean the challenge is a failure. You’ll still learn a lot about yourself. And even a moderate reduction in how much you drink is beneficial.

What Changes With One Month of No Alcohol?

Is a sober month enough time to significantly impact your health?

Medical professionals believe it is.

Physical Health Improvements

Abstaining from alcohol for 30 days gives your liver a break from processing alcohol.

Drinking interferes with your brain’s communication pathways. Alcohol affects how your brain looks and works. When you drink, it changes your mood and behavior. It also makes it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.2 None of these things occur when you aren’t drinking.

Drinking also affects your heart and pancreas. It increases your risk of several types of cancer.2

Better Sleep

Alcohol also disrupts sleep patterns. A few days without alcoholic drinks can result in better sleep and more energy.

Weight Loss

Alcohol is filled with “empty” calories. A month without alcohol can help you drop a few extra pounds.

Mental Health Improvements

Many people find that a sober challenge improves their overall mood. 

Drinking might help you relax or feel more at ease in the moment. However, alcohol is a depressant. It doesn’t help your mood long-term. Abstaining can improve your emotional and mental health.

Even a short break from too much alcohol is beneficial for many people. It allows them to assess their drinking habits and be more mindful of their alcohol consumption in the future.

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Should I Take Part in Sober September?

As beneficial as Sober September can be, sobriety challenges aren’t for everyone.

Giving up alcohol cold turkey is dangerous for people with alcohol use disorder (AUD). If you suspect AUD is an issue, consult your doctor before participating in a sober challenge. 

At the very least, heavy drinkers must ease into a sober challenge by reducing their alcohol intake a little at a time.

Sober September is best for people who drink socially. You might learn from the experience that your relationship with alcohol is problematic. However, if you believe you have an addiction or disorder, sobriety challenges can do more harm than good.

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What to Do After Sober September

One of the greatest challenges of a sober challenge is returning to drinking once it’s over. Some people can recalibrate their drinking habits and return to alcohol with a healthier approach.

However, other people rush back to drinking. They might drink more once the challenge ends.

If you take a “making up for lost time” approach after Sober September, you might want to seek professional support to address your drinking.

Even if you didn’t struggle with Sober September and alcohol isn’t a problem, it’s good to have a plan for when the challenge ends. This is true for any short-term elimination approach. It’s important to have goals and a plan for how to deal with alcohol starting October 1st.

Summary

Sober September is a sobriety challenge in which participants abstain from drinking alcohol for 30 days. It’s an opportunity for them to give their bodies a break from drinking. It’s also a good time to assess their relationship with alcohol.

Successful sobriety challenges require planning. Many people also find it helpful to have an accountability partner. It’s also important to have a plan for returning to drinking if you intend to do so after the challenge.

Sober September provides many benefits for participants. However, it isn’t right for everyone. This is especially the case when it comes to people with AUD.

Updated on April 5, 2023
7 sources cited
Updated on April 5, 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. Mayo Clinic. “Can Lifestyle Changes Benefit Your Cholesterol?” mayoclinic.org, 2018.

  2. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). “Alcohol’s Effects on the Body.” niaaa.nih.gov, 2011.

  3. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). “Alcohol’s Effects on the Body.” niaaa.nih.gov, 2011.

  4. Indiana University. “IUPUI Sober October Challenge.” alcohol.iupui.edu. 

  5. Harvard Health Publishing. “Alcohol’s Effects on the Body - Harvard Health.” health.harvard.edu, Dec. 2014. 

  6. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). “Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder.” niaaa.nih.gov, Apr. 2021. 

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Alcohol Use and Your Health.” cdc.gov, 2021.

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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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