Events like Dry January and Sober October—where participants challenge themselves to go the whole month without drinking or using substances—have grown increasingly popular in recent years. For people with serious alcohol or substance use issues, events like these may be of little concern. People for whom recovery is a critical factor of their life don’t have the privilege of restricting their abstinence to one or two months out of the year.
But for those who don’t feel their drinking or substance use has reached a breaking point, or simply wish to take a less committed approach to recovery, Sober October can serve as an excellent jumping off point.
An Opportunity for Those Considering Recovery
Individuals who are considering the benefits of recovery are sometimes called “sober curious.” This term often refers to those who don’t feel a desperate need to stop drinking or using substances but may feel like their habit is occasionally out of control, or that they may simply be happier without it.
For people in this category, taking a month-long recovery “test drive” can be beneficial even if the end result isn’t long-term recovery. Seeing how you feel without drinking or using substances can help you determine if your lifestyle is really serving you.
When taking this kind of experimental approach to recovery, it can be helpful to consider questions like these:
- Is it a struggle to go without alcohol or substances?
- Do you feel more clear-headed without them?
- Have you experienced changes to your mood? If so, were they positive or negative?
- How do you feel physically? Do you have more energy?
- Has your sleep been impacted?
- How do you feel socializing without alcohol or substances?
Assessing the effect of living in recovery by asking questions like these can make it easier to determine what kind of lifestyle best meets your needs. Not everyone will want to commit themselves to a long-term recovery plan. And even for those that do, recovery can take many forms.
It’s Your Recovery: Make it What You Want
While the premise and rules of Sober October are fairly straightforward, there is no one “right” way to navigate recovery. For some, the idea of going a whole month without drinking can seem overwhelming. This can lead them to feel too intimidated to even attempt abstinence. But it’s important to remember that there is no mandatory level of commitment.
If you want to try out recovery for half of the month instead, go for it! If your goal is to not drink on weekdays this month, give it a try! No matter what, you will have the opportunity to better understand your relationship to alcohol and substances. Writing in a journal along the way can help you make a record of your experiences, allowing you to better understand and address your own health and wellness needs.
Taking Recovery Past Sober October
If you feel like recovery is a good fit for you, it can be helpful to connect with others who are also in recovery. Having a community allows you to build friendship and give and receive support. Sharing your experiences and listening to others explain how they dealt with similar circumstances can be extremely valuable to the recovery process. Whether your journey leads you to long-term recovery or just serves as a temporary exercise, it can still be a crucial step in your journey to health and happiness.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction or co-occurring disorders, call the New England Recovery Center today at 1-877-MyRehab.