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Go Sober for October: Reasons why you should lay off the booze

By Valerie Edwards

Today kicks off the Go Sober for October campaign for Macmillan Cancer Support, an organisation that provides practical, medical, and financial support for cancer care and research.

Laying off the booze for only a month can improve your health and put more money in your wallet.

Macmillan Cancer Support found that the British public spends £2.6 million on alcohol every hour, or £1.9 billion a month. Last year, it calculated Britons spend just under £66 a month on booze on average.

Excess alcohol consumption costs Northern Ireland up to as much as £900 million each year. Alcohol also causes seven types of cancer, including breast, mouth and bowel cancers.

Macmillan Cancer Support estimates that by the end of 2015, 63,000 people will be living with cancer in Northern Ireland.

Go Sober is encouraging the UK to take a break from alcohol for only 31 days. If you're one of the brave soberheros, here are some benefits of going sober:

1. Increased energy levels/Sleeping better

Taking a break from alcohol will help you sleep better causing your energy levels to increase and allowing you to be more productive throughout the day.

2. Clearer head/Better concentration

Having a hangover can most times cloud your judgement and leave you writing off the whole day. In other words, a clearer head means less time wasted and more concentration on demanding tasks.

3. Clearer skin

Going without alcohol helps your skin recover from the dehydrating effect of alcohol, which can give it an unhealthy colour and texture. Your body is able to absorb more vitamin A, increasing cell turnover, which keeps skin looking healthier and younger.

4. Weight loss

Alcohol contributes to weight gain by reducing your metabolism, as the body breaks down alcohol first, so fats and sugars are burnt off slower. It also contains almost the same number of calories as pure fat, seven per gram, according to an infographic by celebrity personal trainer Lucas James.

5. Healthier bank balance

Northern Ireland's £7.90 figure was slightly higher than the £7.60 UK average of alcohol bought off-licences per week in 2014. With the extra money in your pocket you could buy some new clothing.

Not to mention, you would be going sober for a good cause. Family and friends can sponsor you and they can buy you a Golden Ticket if you want to drink on a special occasion.

In 2014, close to 100,000 people signed up and this year more than 50,000 are going sober. The campaign has already raised £690,668, but is aiming to surpass last year's amount of £4 million.

Lisa McGrogan, area fundraising manager for NI, said: “The premise is simple: don’t drink for the month of October and get people to sponsor you for doing so. All funds raised go to Macmillan Cancer Support to help ensure that no-one in Northern Ireland faces cancer alone.

“Go Sober is about clearing your head, challenging yourself and making a difference. By 2016 almost one in two people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and for most, it will be the toughest fight they ever face."

Lisa added: "It’s a fight no one should go through alone and the Macmillan team wants to ensure no one does. By taking part in Go Sober for October, you will help Macmillan in providing practical, medical and financial support and push for better cancer care here in Northern Ireland.”

The idea for Go Sober for October originally came from the alcohol free challenge Dry July started in Australia in 2008 as a challenge amongst friends to raise funds for local cancer support services.

Dry July has been running for eight years and has raised over AUD$24 million to benefit the lives of those living with cancer across Australia and New Zealand.

For more information and to sign up for the challenge visit Go Sober.

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