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Have You Heard Of Sober October?

Written by: Melissa Lyon Edited by: Nicole LaNeve

For teens, Sober October is a chance to think about the effects of substance use and support people you know in recovery.

mom and son enjoying a fall bike ride

Sober October is a month dedicated to taking a step back from alcohol and other substances. It’s the same month as Substance Abuse Prevention Month, making it the perfect time to recognize those people affected by substance abuse and gain more understanding about what it’s like to be in recovery.

Sober October wasn’t new when Joe Rogan made it a challenge in 2017, but he earned a lot more attention for the trend. Rogan has headed up his wildly popular “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast for 11 years. Rogan wanted to help out a friend and fellow comedian when they initially challenged each other to a Sober October. For Rogan, Sober October was primarily about abstaining from marijuana, which he is notoriously known to use while hosting his show.

Since then, Sober October has become a yearly tradition for fans of the podcast and a worldwide trend to participate in a month of sobriety.

Why Sober October Should Matter to Teenagers

Underage drinking is a public health problem in the U.S., with far-reaching consequences. According to the NIH National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, by the age of 15, nearly 30% of teens have had at least one drink. People between the ages of 12 and 20 drink a staggering 11% of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. Many teens report binge drinking as well, which puts you at risk of being in a dangerous situation.

Teens who drink are also at risk for using other substances and also for developing an addiction to alcohol.

If you’re a teen, Sober October can give you the chance to step back and evaluate your use of alcohol and other substances. It’s also an opportunity to advocate for substance abuse prevention and encourage your friends and other loved ones to evaluate what role substances play in their lives.

The Lowdown

The idea of Sober October is simple—avoid alcohol for the month. A lot of people also avoid any other substances. You can make the challenge your own. If you want to enlist the support of friends or make it a competitive group challenge, go for it. You can also share your support using social media to share educational or inspirational messages on addiction recovery and the importance of substance abuse prevention.

There’s not a specific set of rules for Sober October beyond the basic element of abstaining from substances for the month.

Alternatives to Drinking

If you find that drinking has become part of your routine or something you do in certain circumstances, like when you’re particularly stressed or socializing, find some go-to alternatives instead.

Alternatives include:
  • Make mocktails. You can do it with friends, or if you’re social distancing, have a virtual mocktail party.
  • Challenge your friends to take on new fitness activities during the month of October. Again, competition is always a good way to meet your goals.
  • Get outdoors. The fall weather is here for many of us, and you can use it as an opportunity to hike and explore.
  • Volunteer. When you volunteer and give back to your community, it’s not just good for the people you’re helping, but it’s also good for your mental health.
  • Do you have an old hobby that you maybe have given up or don’t have as much time for? Revisit it or find a new one during Sober October.

Benefits of Staying Sober

There’s a misconception when you’re young, drinking doesn’t really affect you, especially if you don’t do it regularly. The reality is that if you participate in Sober October, you might notice a lot of the benefits and also have a better understanding of the negative effects.

  • Your grades may improve as well as your focus and concentration. If you often feel like you’re struggling from brain fog, that may dissipate if you stop using substances.
  • You reduce the risk of getting into trouble with the law, affecting your college admission chances and even your future career.
  • You may have a stronger relationship with your family and other people who are important to you.
  • If you feel like you don’t get enough sleep or are always tired, eliminating alcohol can help you get more restful sleep and feel more energized.

Challenges Those in Recovery Face

If you care about someone who’s in recovery for an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you might not have ever thought about the challenges they face. It can feel like an uphill battle sometimes, particularly in the earliest days of recovery. Participating in Sober October can help you get a better idea of what that’s like, making you a more empathetic and empowered support system.

For teens struggling with substance abuse, help is available. Contact Next Generation Village today to learn more about addiction treatment programs specifically designed for the needs of adolescents.


NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Monitoring the Future Survey: High School and Youth Trends DrugFacts.” December 2019. Accessed October 2, 2020.

NIH National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Underage Drinking.” January 2020. Accessed October 2, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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