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Sober October - abstaining from alcohol for 31 days

  • Category: News, Healthy Living
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Dr. Schuyler Williams
Sober October -  abstaining from alcohol for 31 days
Along with facing new challenges, like working from home or not being able to see loved ones, many people have experienced feelings of boredom or anxiety, so they turned to alcohol to help manage those feelings. Much like, Dry July, Sober October encourages people to reduce or completely abstain from alcohol for 31 days. Touro’s Internal Medicine physician Dr. Schuyler Williams is here to discuss the impact alcohol can have on the body, and the benefits of giving it up or cutting back.

What are the recommended guidelines for consuming alcohol?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to:
  • Men- 2 drinks or less in a day
  • Women- 1 drink or less in a day
Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or people under the age of 21. Binge drinking is defined as
  • Men- 5 or more drinks during a single occasion
  • Women- 4 or more drinks in a single occasion

What are the short-term health risks with drinking excessive amounts of alcohol?

Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions.
  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns.
  • Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.
  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels.
  • Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women

Long-term health risks?

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including:
  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum.
  • Weakening of the immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick.
  • Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
  • Social problems, including family problems, job-related problems, and unemployment.
  • Alcohol use disorders, or alcohol dependence

What can someone do to help themselves cut back?

Consider participating in a month-long sobriety challenge such as Sober October. This could help you be more mindful about your drinking.
Some other tips:
  • Keep busy
  • Don’t keep alcohol in your house
  • Set a drinking goal – set a limit on how much you will drink. You should keep your drinking below the recommended guidelines.
  • Keep a diary of your drinking
  • Watch for peer pressure
  • Ask for support
  • Be persistent

What are the health benefits - giving up alcohol or cutting back?

Even in just a month, if you were to participate in Sober October, there is evidence that reduced alcohol consumption can be good for your physical health
  • More energy
  • Better sleep
  • Improved concentration
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower risk for cancer
  • Less irritability and anxiety
  • Increased ability to fight off illness (particularly important when entering flu season)
And for emotional health, a short-term challenge can point out feelings and routines that could be improved.
Make the most of Sober October and don’t binge on November 1st! Dramatically reducing your consumption over that time can lower your tolerance, and what was enough for a buzz today could result in a much higher level of intoxication than you expect 30 days later. You may be undoing the changes in habit you have worked hard on over the course of the month.
At Touro, our providers know how important it is to have someone who knows your medical history help make sure your healthiest days are ahead of you. We specialize in caring for you as a whole person. Make an appointment with one of our primary care physicians today at