19 Oct 2021

How to go sober this October

Whether you're taking part in the month-long challenge for Macmillan or supporting a friend or family member who's on the wagon, we've shared some tips for surviving Sober October with a clear head and with your relationships intact.

Most people, at some point in their life, refrain from alcohol. On occasions, refusal of alcohol is for perfectly clear medical reasons (booze may clash with prescription drugs, or an operation is impending, or the person is pregnant). At other times, it is more clearly a case of self-imposed abstinence: this can range from a few weeks  ‘clean-living’ to a committed campaign to kick the drink habit altogether.

Now we have an even better reason to temporarily abandon the demon drink. Sober October is being promoted by Macmillan Cancer Support, which is inviting social drinkers to go alcohol-free for all, or part, of the month of October, in order to raise money for people with cancer. This scheme not only benefits the charity, but it can also be argued that it is beneficial for the participants, who will feel more energetic and clear-headed as a result of their abstinence and will not have to contend with hangovers or drink-induced social embarrassment.

If you are a friend of a temporary teetotaller, you must respect their decision. As a host, you may be confronted with a refusal of drink from your guest. Never question why this is happening; never cajole, or plead, or tease. You may be disappointed that they’re not joining in the party fun, but you must never let this show – meet their refusal with good grace, and offer a tempting range of alcohol-free drinks.

If you are the teetotaller (however temporary), you must also mind your manners. Refuse a drink politely; give an explanation if you think that helps. Never act the martyr, miserably cradling your mineral water as the party takes off around you. And if you’re foregoing drink for charity, resist all temptation to virtue signal – remaining glumly sober while gleefully occupying the moral high ground will not win you many friends.

Never proselytise your fellow guests about the benefits of an alcohol-free existence. If you are sober, intoxicated company can be baffling; conversations meander, arguments break out for no reason, non-jokes are met with general hilarity. If you are unable to cope with this alcohol-induced anarchy, don’t go to the party. If you can endure these antics without a censorious air, remember that you will be worth your weight in gold – the one sober guest at the end of the evening who is able to sort out the increasingly unruly guests, and even drive them safely home.

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