I’m not sure exactly what it is about the month of October that inspires personal challenges, but here we are, our social media streams inundated with give-up-do-gooders. I’m not one to talk of course; I’ve recently abstained from caffeine and squash with visible health benefits (teeth and tum). But October seems to bring out the quit squad in full force – whether for a good cause, personal achievement or, as I’ll go on to discuss, one-upmanship.

Firstly, let me say that I think any initiative that encourages you to quit a habit that will improve your health or help you live longer is no bad thing.

Stoptober is an NHS initiative that encourages you to stop smoking for 28 days, with the theory being that you’re five times more likely to stop for good. If that’s all you need – the promise of a smoke-free existence after only one month of quitting – then that’s incredible. But, let’s be honest, it’s still going to be a loathsome personal battle. Getting peer-to-peer support from others quitting at the same time as you, as well as free support tools from NHS, is a great armoury to at least get you thinking about quitting. There’s no pressure on you to raise money or find extra support. It’s not a perfect solution (the NHS has a few other imperfect fitness tools like the Couch Potato to 5K running challenge which I tried and tested), but it’s a free, public service. No complaints.

Go Sober for October is run by MacMillan Cancer Support as a charity fundraiser requiring you to give up alcohol for a month. This is not aimed at alcoholics, nor is it run by an alcohol addiction charity. It preys on charity one-upmanship to reach that extraordinary zenith of human achievement – not getting pissed for one whole month! See the difference? We are well past the days of raising awareness for cancer charities. People are already aware of cancer. Donations for large, well-known charities are rife. I just don’t understand the correlation between not drinking for a month and raising money for a cancer charity – it seems completely random and irrelevant. Why not cut down on alcohol for your own personal health benefits and just continue to give to a lesser-funded charity of your choice, at your own leisure, without bragging or begging?

Of course, you’re still likely to see limited health benefits for not drinking for a month, so if this is really the way you want to go about your fundraising, then fine. But personally, I’d prefer to choose and set my own personal quitting goals, find the right tools to achieve them, and keep my charity donations separate…and private.

Don’t even get me started on Movember


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