Have you heard of “Sober September?” There are both mental and physical benefits of hopping on this fall health craze.
Experts say there are physical and mental health benefits to not drinking for a month. Here’s some of them.
If your “rosé all day” attitude of summer has left you feeling less than rosy in the fall, you may be considering a drying out period. You’re not alone.
Thirty-day detox periods are gaining popularity as more individuals look for activities or goals that can help them reshape behaviors or drop bad habits altogether.
Sober September is one such challenge.
Like its start-of-year counterpart Dry January, Sober September takes the new season — or the restart to school and routines — as a chance to say “no” to sips of wine at dinner, beers at ballgames, or pints after your intramural practice.
In short, it’s a chance to dry out.
But how much impact can a brief period of sobriety really have on your overall health?
Quite a bit, it turns out.
What does the research say?
Several informal studies have looked specifically at the benefits of Dry January.
The results can be expected at any month you decide to take on the challenge, of course. January holds no magical drying-out powers.
In 2013, a team of magazine journalists tagged up with researchers at the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at the University College London Medical School.
A total of 14 staff members from the magazine all underwent basic health exams and screenings. Then, 10 of the members were sober for 5 weeks. The remaining four drank as they normally would.
At the end of the study, the medical school’s researchers found that the 10 who had been sober had lower levels of fat on their livers (a precursor for liver damage), lower cholesterol, and improved blood sugar levels. They also reported better sleep and improved concentration.
The four who kept up their boozy habits did not report any benefits.
Another study from England found that participants in Dry January experienced benefits that went beyond the purely physical.
In the study from the University of Sussex, 82 percent of Dry January participants felt a sense of accomplishment, and 79 percent reported saving money.
Plus, 72 percent of participants sustained reduced drinking levels — they didn’t drink over recommended limits — 6 months after their initial sober period.
That’s because, according to the 2016 study, people were better — or more practiced — at turning down drinks and resisting the urge to return to their old beer-guzzling or wine-sipping ways.
This drink refusal self-efficacy (DRSE) skill, as the study called it, helped individuals have a healthier relationship with alcohol and also helped prevent a “rebound” effect after the challenge was wrapped.
Of course, sobriety might not come as easily for some individuals as it does for others. While the U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that women drink no more than one drink per day, and men have no more than two per day, research shows not everyone adheres to this advice.
In fact, the National Institutes of Health reported that nearly 27 percent of people over 18 engaged in binge drinking in the month before the survey. Another 7 percent reported that they had consumed alcohol heavily in the previous month.
“People who drink on a daily basis may be at risk for alcohol withdrawal symptoms,” says Stephen Odom, PhD, an addiction treatment professional with more than 25 years of expertise in the behavioral health field, and chief executive officer and chief clinical officer of New Vista Behavioral Health, the parent company of Center for Professional Recovery, Avalon Malibu, and Avalon Integrative Wellness and Simple Recovery. “Sweating, increased heart rate, mild tremors, and nausea are some of the common indications that you should seek medical attention to determine the best plan to safely abstain from alcohol.”
For Richard Storm, a New York City-based photographer, a month of sobriety opened his eyes to another element of alcohol use he had not seen.
“It made me realize I use alcohol not only as a social lubricant, but as a way to self-medicate,” he told Healthline. “I drink when I’m happy, sad, or to kill time.”
Storm did a sober June and is back for another round in September.
“That may honestly spill over into sober for a good long while,” he says. “I think from here on out, since I stayed away from booze for a month or so, I’ll make a decision to either stay dry or try and curb my appetites. So far, the pluses far outweigh the effects.”
Source: Sober September Health Benefits
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