SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Sober October started in Queensland, Australia more than a decade ago; as it grows in popularity some participants have reported improved overall health after stepping away from alcoholic beverages for a month.

If you are wondering whether taking a month off from drinking is for you; here are a few benefits of Sober October.

1) Alcohol makes chronic pain worse

Research shows pain is a widespread symptom in patients who suffer from alcohol dependence. Chronic pain is a critical factor in contributing to Alcohol Use Disorder.

2) Quit drinking now and your health will get better

When someone’s health worsens with certain afflictions, many people tend to stop drinking. This is especially true when individuals are diagnosed with cancer.

But for those who are thinking of quitting their alcohol habits before their health forces them to decide to stop drinking, one study shows why it’s a good idea. It turns out that there are no significant differences in the health of people who have always abstained from alcohol and those who are former drinkers.

There has never been a better time than now to make a change!

3) Alcohol affects relationships, but relationships also affect alcohol consumption

Relationships affect alcohol consumption, but maybe not in the way one might think. Becoming a widow or widower can cause increased alcohol consumption, but getting married or divorced can make a person go either way. Wedded bliss can either cause an increase or a decrease in a person’s alcohol consumption.  

So can divorce.

Are you single? Being single was found to increase the likelihood of a person attempting to quit drinking, but being married increased the odds of a person successfully abstaining from alcohol.

AP photo of a couple in a silhouette by Charlie Riedel.

4) Quitting cigarettes helps reduce heavy drinking

For many people, alcohol and cigarettes go together like peanut butter and jelly. But if you’re quitting both, you might want to consider which you stop first.

Did you know that greater alcohol consumption and smoking status are directly correlated, and quitting smoking can reduce heavy drinking? Because it’s true.

And remember that your age can also play a role in successful attempts at sobriety. Everyone is different–know that it may take more or fewer attempts to fully gain sobriety.

Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others! One person may quit drinking after two attempts, while another may still struggle after their sixth attempt.

5) Alcohol is associated with several types of cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, several types of cancers are associated with the consumption of alcohol, such as cancer of the head and neck, esophagus, liver, breast, and colon.

Doctor and patient discussion, courtesy of Getty Images.

6) Alcohol changes your mental state and can cause anxiety, depression

Drunk dialing your x is not the best idea in the world, but because alcohol consumption can cause harm to your mental state, it might seem like a good idea while you’re drinking. But the truth is that alcohol is a depressant that disrupts your brain’s balance of neurotransmitters. The disruption can affect your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. So, in short, a person’s cycle of alcohol dependence can be, in part, the result of drinking to escape from the anxiety and depression that is caused by drinking.

Alcohol can also change how your brain processes information, making it hard for you to understand the potential consequences of your actions.

7) You may be drinking more than these recommended guidelines for alcohol consumption

Dietary Guidelines in the U.S. recommend that women have one drink or less a day and men have two drinks or less per day. Heavy drinking for women is a woman drinking four or more drinks in a single day or more than eight drinks in a week. Heavy drinking for men equals five drinks in a day or more than 15 drinks per week.

Binge drinking is when a woman consumes four or more, or a man consumes five or more drinks in two hours.

More than half of alcohol-related deaths in the United States are caused by binge drinking.

8) There are benefits to being sober

Now that you’ve learned a few reasons why your mental and physical health can improve when you live without excessive amounts of alcohol, this is a great time to think about the activities you’ll be able to enjoy if you’re sober. Regular exercise, learning to play a new instrument, making nutritious meals, beginning to write that novel, honoring the relationships in your life, and finally finding the mental health professional that is right for you–all of these are just a few of the new life-changing habits and practices you can form when you fully commit to being sober.

Having more time to focus on yourself, and more money in your pocket because you’ve stopped spending it on vices, will help you to find something that science says is possible in this life: joy.