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The Zero Proof Guide to Sober October

Sober October is right around the corner, and millions around the world will be taking the month off from alcohol. The go-dry challenge originated in the UK as a way to raise money for charity, but many more people do it for personal or health reasons.

The benefits of taking just a month off of drinking are pretty remarkable. You'll likely enjoy better sleep, more energy, reduced anxiety and irritability, improved concentration and mental clarity, and a generally better mood. Abstaining from alcohol also lowers your risk of several types of cancer, as well as reducing your risk of heart and liver disease, and boosts your immune system, itself a great benefit heading into cold and flu season. 

Maybe you want a reset after a summer full of drinking at parties and on vacation, or before the holiday season that encourages indulgence. Maybe you just want to see if you can do it. Whatever your reasons for participating, the best way to set yourself up for success is a little preparation and a little perspective.

To help you navigate a successful Sober October, here's The Zero Proof's practical advice for making it all the way to Halloween. 

Stock up early

It's a lot easier to start Sober October with something you're excited to drink, rather than just focusing on what you're not drinking. No one says you can't restock as the month goes on, but facing October 1st by popping a bottle of de-alcoholized bubbly you've already chilled in the fridge will make it feel like a month of celebration, rather than one of denial. Buy a few bottles of something now that will make you view the month with anticipation instead of dread.

Team up with friends

Any challenge is easier with an accountability partner. Ask friends now if they are planning on doing Sober October. You'll probably have a few friends who are, and a few who've never heard of it but will be excited to try it out. Start a group chat over text or direct messages to hype each other up and check in regularly throughout the month.

If you don't have friends who are participating, it's still good to let people know. Most people are pretty supportive when someone in their life chooses to stop drinking for any amount of time. With the rise of non-alc beverage culture, most people are more conscious than ever of providing options at parties and events for those who aren't drinking. Letting people know gives them a chance to make sure there's something you can drink! 

If they do offer you a beer when you walk into their house or try to buy you a shot at the bar, politely remind them you're not drinking for a month. Don't make a big deal out of it if your friends who are still drinking forget you're going dry for a month- after all, alcohol interferes with memory! 

Don't be afraid to BYONA (Bring Your Own Non-Alc) 

The onus to keep you hydrated shouldn't just be on your friends. Bring along a little cooler bag with your favorite ready-to-drinks to house parties, office gatherings, your pickup soccer game, or wherever people will be drinking. We advise packing a few more than you think you'll drink. You might be surprised how many people will ask if they can try one of your zero-proof libations! 

Some restaurants will let you bring your own wine for a corkage fee. If the fee is prohibitively expensive and they don't offer adult non-alcoholic beverages (fancy lemonade does not count), call in advance to ask if they can waive or lower the cost for your bottle of Acid League Wine Proxies. If they won't, you can always go elsewhere, and let them know why you're choosing another restaurant. 

You probably can't get away with this at bars, clubs, or major sporting events, unfortunately, but pretty much anywhere else, don't be afraid to show up with a 4-pack or two of SpritzISH or Lyre's Dark 'N Spicy

Get Curious 

And we don't just mean Curious Elixirs (though they are a delicious option to have on hand for Sober October)! 

Any break in routine is an opportunity for discovery. Don't just sit at home thinking you can't go out if you can't drink alcohol. Get online and search for restaurants and bars that have non-alcoholic drinks on their menus, and invite friends to go with you. Make a list of activities you've been meaning to try, but that you can't (or at least shouldn't) do with a buzz, like axe throwing or hot yoga, and finally do them. 

You don't have to go out to get good drinks. Stock your fridge with great beers that won't get you drunk, from companies like Athletic Brewing Club and Visitor. Taste ready to drink zero-proof cocktails; not just the ones that imitate alcoholic drinks, but wholly original options like Ghia Salt + Lime or For Bitter For Worse's Rose City Fizz. Experiment with non-alcoholic spirits with totally different flavors than your usual order. 

You might just discover something you'll want to keep drinking long after October ends. 

Take it easy 

A lot of guides to Sober October will recommend that you take up some kind of self-improvement challenge at the same time, like a month of meditation or a new fitness regimen. While it's tempting to try to make this another Dry January, complete with New Year's resolutions, remember: most resolutions fail in less than two weeks! 

If you find yourself enjoying more energy and clarity, and you want to sign up for a new gym membership or get an early start on November's National Novel Writing Month, go for it! Just don't feel like you have to overcommit yourself to a slate of self-improvement tasks to feel the benefits of a booze-free month. 

Read The Zero Proof 

Need more info on non-alc? We've got you! Here's some great places to start.

From all of us here at The Zero Proof, good luck to everyone celebrating Sober October!