Going Sober: A Movement Rooted in Physical and Mental Health

Sep 18, 2023 | Abuse/Neglect, Addiction, Anger, Anxiety, Grief

Sober living and sober spaces are gaining traction as more people recognize the importance of environments that support their sober choices.

Susan Kelley from JRNY counseling says, “Even if you don’t have an alcohol use disorder, you might try taking a break from alcohol just to see if you feel any differently. There is no safe level of alcohol use – it’s damaging to our bodies even if we only have a drink a few times a week.”

Sober bars and events are gaining traction in the Midwest and beyond, with Non-Alcoholic Spirit and Mocktail companies now distributing globally. More and more people are seeing sobriety as a choice beyond prescription. Going sober, for reasons big and small, suits a healthy lifestyle. 

Physical Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol abuse can lead to an array of physical ailments including liver disease, heart problems, and an increased risk of certain cancers. This isn’t a new breakthrough- In the 18th century, a physician named Benjamin Rush classified alcoholism as a sickness, and by the 1940s, researchers from IU were citing adverse effects like the liver damage, weakening of the heart and adverse effects on the brain we now commonly associate with alcohol. 

As a central nervous system depressant, alcohol can slow down bodily functions, impair motor control, and in severe cases, lead to unconsciousness or even death. People commonly cut out alcohol to avoid blackouts or adverse health complications, but there’s also a growing population of sober adults that are tired of hangovers or just generally wanting more energy, cardiovascular endurance and cognitive awareness.

TIP: If you’re considering going sober for your physical health, aim for healthy alternatives to going out for drinks. Invite friends for a game of tennis or a cycling trip. 

Mental Effects of Alcohol

The relationship between alcohol and mental health is complex. While some may use alcohol to cope with mental health issues, The National Institute of Health asserts that alcohol often exacerbates conditions like anxiety and depression. Beyond that, chronic alcohol use can lead to dependence and addiction, creating a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break. 

While sobriety isn’t a cure-all for mental health conditions, patients who cut alcohol out of their daily and weekly habits often find that their overall health improves and other treatment becomes more manageable over time.

TIP: When a friend offers you a drink, it’s easier to decline with a reason. You might not feel comfortable sharing your mental health journey with a peer, so saying something like “I have an early morning tomorrow!” can pull the attention away. It’s also nice to actually have something worth doing in the morning, like taking the kids fishing or going to brunch with another couple.

Emotional Effects of Alcohol 

While drinking may initially provide a sense of relaxation or euphoria, these feelings are often short-lived and followed by negative emotional states, such as anger, sadness, or confusion. Over time, these emotional ups and downs can lead to a lack of emotional stability and increased stress. It’s also harder to engage in coping strategies when under the influence of alcohol, so people working on anger management and stress reduction often find that sobriety is an effective way to find short and long term success. 

TIP: Certain emotional coping strategies can also help you break dependence on alcohol. Emotional coping mechanisms like distraction, reasoning and meditation can help with both sobriety and stress reduction.

Justin Misch, a counselor with JRNY, says “Remember there is no ‘one way’ to get and stay sober.  Recovery looks different for many people and that is the beauty of it.  Also, pro tip, if worried about peer pressure with drinking, try always having a non-alcoholic drink in hand.  People are way less likely to ask or push after the first ask if you have something already.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol dependency, JRNY Counseling is here to help. We provide comprehensive alcohol recovery services, offering support, guidance, and resources tailored to your unique journey towards sobriety. Our team of skilled counselors is committed to helping you navigate your path to wellness, providing the tools necessary to live a healthier, alcohol-free life. Don’t let alcohol control your life any longer. Reach out to JRNY Counseling today and take the first step towards a brighter, sober future.