What Is Dry January?
Dry January is an annual campaign encouraging people to go without drinking alcohol for the first month of a new year. The term first began appearing (as far as our research showed) in the 2000s when Seattle Times Reporter Nicole Brodeur published a column describing her yearly efforts after being encouraged by a friend.
Why Participate In Dry January?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, alcohol consumption has increased. A new survey conducted by The Harris Poll found one in five Americans is drinking an unhealthy amount of alcohol. About 17% of respondents reported “heavy drinking” in the previous 30-days.
Many people have increased their alcohol consumption in the past two years, according to several studies. A Rand Corporation study publish in the fall of 2021 found alcohol consumption for 14% when compared to pre-pandemic levels. The same study found women increased heavy drinking by a whopping 41%.
Another reason to take a month off from drinking is to see if you can. “Dry January is a useful tool in telling to what extent we have become dependent on alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic,” an expert on women’s drinking behavior and professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the University of North Dakota told NBC News’ TODAY Show.
Alcohol use disorder is a progressive disease and doesn’t begin with drinking before work or school. It starts as innocuously as too many at the bar a few times. Dry January could be a test to find out if your drinking has progressed to a problematic stage and provides a perfect excuse in case your friends are wondering why you ordered a club soda at the bar last night.
You’ll also save money. Alcohol and bars are not cheap, and you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve been spending for a night out.
Whether or not you’re thinking about Dry January because you’re drinking has increased or if you just want to try a month without alcohol, we suggest giving it a try!
Health Benefits of 30 Days Without Alcohol
For people who drink often, Dry January can be a relief to your body in the following ways:
- Liver Health: Cirrhosis and fatty liver can develop in people who drink too much. Giving your liver a month to heal can reverse the negative effects of alcohol chronic alcohol consumption.
- Weight Loss: Each alcoholic beverage contains at least 100 calories. It obviously depends on your baseline consumption, but it never hurts to have fewer calories.
- Reduce the Risk of Cancer: The Department of Health and Human Services lists alcohol as a known human carcinogen. The risk of developing alcohol-related cancers increases with each drink regularly over time. Studies have shown links between alcohol consumption and the development of liver, breast, head and neck, esophageal, and colorectal cancers.
- Decrease Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: The liver and an enzyme called dehydrogenases metabolizes alcohol. Where there is more alcohol than the two can handle, another enzyme picks up the slack. This other enzyme created LDL (bad cholesterol) which is then collected in arteries.
Top 5 Tips for a Successful Dry January
- Set Goals: Diets and weight loss goals often fail because people set unrealistic goals. Make sure to set SMART goals! SMART stands for specific, measurable attainable, realistic, and time-based. Once created your goals, it’s important to share them. You can write a Facebook or just tell the people in your life what you’re doing. This will add a layer of accountability to your goals.
- Avoid Triggers: You may be used to Friday happy hour with your coworkers or enjoying a beer at the game with your buddies. If you want to be successful, you might consider removing yourself from those situations. The social aspect of drinking is a reason often cited by people who want to stop drinking but are torn due to the social life ramifications. Breaking News: you don’t have to stop going to bars or brunch forever even if you stop forever. It’s important in the begging to avoid tempting situations, but as you develop more confidence, some people can eventually return.
- Expect Craving & Urges: You’ll likely feel the urge to drink at some point. Plan for it and develop a plan for when you feel the urge to drink, such as:
- Find Something Fun to Do: Some people replace alcohol with exercise, but others (myself included) loathe the gym. And that’s fine! What is something that you’ve wanted to learn but haven’t yet? You could take a pottery or photography class, buy a cookbook, and work your way through it, or even find a new show to binge on. Most city or community websites have a list of classes available, so check it out. Boredom is your enemy for the next month.
- Avoid Pass/Fail Mentality: Humans are far from perfect, and people slip up. IF you had a beer, you might be tempted to throw the whole idea of a sober month away. Don’t. Try again, you’ll still feel accomplished at the end of the month for reducing alcohol consumption.
The Bottom Line
Dry January can be good for many reasons that we’ve already discussed. But what if you realize that you’re far more reliant on alcohol than you realized. If you suspect you may have a problem with alcohol, reach out to us! Call AspenRidge at 855-281-5588, and talk to one of our client advocates. They can help you assess your drinking and if necessary, get you into a program to help you kick the habit. We offer high levels of care with 30+ hours of therapy per week, to three hours per week Outpatient care. We have a program that will fit your situation. As a 100% outpatient facility, we can help you quit while still allowing flexibility for you to meet your obligations.