Sober October – Do it for love!
By Lauren Gasser, 09 October 2014 Alcohol
October is a time for autumnal strolls, new jumpers and sitting inside pubs again – unless, like me, you’re attempting Sober October, in which case you may find yourself avoiding human interaction entirely. And, if you’re anything like me you will have entered into this pact with extreme over-confidence – I, like many others, completed dry January without so much as a beer-battered cod, so when the end of September rolled around, I assumed another stint of teetotalism would be equally effortless.
For one thing, I drank enough in December to keep me drunk for the entirety of January. Then there’s the fact that no one was out socialising because nobody has any money in January and the weather is always rubbish. My body and mind relished the booze-void after all the Christmas and New Year festivities, and I had lots of resolution-based activities to focus on (training for a few marathons, writing a screenplay, reaching 10,000 followers on Twitter, that sort of thing).
October is a very different kettle of beer-battered cod.
Jokes aside, there are some seriously good reasons why learning to live, happily, without booze is a good idea.
After a glorious summer, it’s suddenly grey and a bit nippy. People stop meeting in parks and start meeting in bars, and 5pm feels like 9pm, which is obviously gin-o’clock. It’s too rainy to jog, so you have a curry and a pint instead. On top of all this, there isn’t the same incentive that you felt in January – a brand new year, a brand new you, all that optimism and self-discipline flies out the window by month ten.
But if its incentive you’re looking for – besides your own health and bank balance of course – you might be interested to know more about the impact drinking has on other aspects of our lives. Jokes aside, there are some seriously good reasons why learning to live, happily, without booze is a good idea.
Here are some interesting (and scary) facts about the effects of booze on couples and families:
- Alcohol consumption has been linked to aggression. In one study, people were asked about their propensity to get into arguments and their drinking habits. The amount people drink, in terms of quantity, frequency and bouts of heavy drinking were all independently linked to an increased risk of getting into arguments. The most important factor in this is how often people drink, and alcohol consumption is also linked to domestic violence, which tends to be connected to those who have more frequent bouts of heavy drinking. (Anderson, 2008)
- Relate relationship counsellor Christine Northam says that arguing a lot when you’re drunk could reveal underlying problems with your relationship. Which brings us on to sex. Alcohol can be a cause of erectile dysfunction, which affects 7-8% of men aged 20-40, 11% of men aged 40-50 and 40% of men aged 60 and above. That’s assuming you haven’t already argued your way into spending the night alone on the sofa.
- Research also suggests that divorce rates tend to be higher among heavy drinkers, and that married couples’ drinking may increase around the time that precedes marital breakdown. There are some links between establishing long-term relationships and decreased drinking, but these are difficult to quantify. It may be that heavy drinkers are less likely to form long-term relationships, or that marriage can lead to a reduction in drinking. Married men and women have a low risk of heavy drinking, while divorced men and women have a high risk, particularly when the divorce is still recent. (Power, Rodgers, & Hope, 2002)
So, next time you get a liquor craving, why not think about all the fun things you and the person you love can do sober? Or set some October resolutions – 5k fun run, couple of haikus and a retweet from Nandos.