Some people give Dry January a try because they want to see if they can abstain from alcohol for a month, or just want to start the new year differently. Whatever your motivation, there are some universal tips for making it through the month sans booze. We’ve compiled a list of tips for staying sober this month.
Let’s face it, it can be fun to drink with friends. If you’re used to Friday happy hours with the work crew or Saturday night at the club with friends, you’re going to have some schedule holes to fill. This is a perfect opportunity to try something you’ve always wanted to but keep pushing it off. Have you contemplated learning a new skill, like photography, pottery making, or painting? Now is a perfect time to get out there and give it a shot! Many local communities have online or in-person bulletin boards loaded with classes. Many community colleges also offer non-credit continuing education classes which are available to everyone. The money you save by not going out to bars might even cover the cost of your new activity.
Bars are not your friend this month. As they say, old habits die hard. You may become tempted to order a drink. Think you might be immune to the lure of liquor? Take it from this sober guy, bars aren’t nearly as fun if you’re not drinking. I dare say, drunk people are the worst if you’re not imbibing with them. Think of the times when you’ve been the designated driver. Yeah, it’s like that. That’s not to say that you can’t hang out with coworkers at happy hour or hit up brunch with your friends. Just avoid them for the first couple of weeks. Once you’ve gotten used to not drinking, it will become easier when you do go out.
Urges to Drink
Most people will feel the urge to drink during Dry January. Alcohol is deeply woven into American culture. From football games to drinks after work, to wine pairings with dinner, we’re just expected to drink alcohol. It’s not shocking considering the companies who make spirits are expected to spend $6 billion globally on advertising next year. What you need is to plan for when you have an urge. IF you feel the urge while out with friends, politely make an excuse to leave. “I’m getting tired” is a classic excuse or just say you have to be up early.
Often, people are ashamed of their relationship with alcohol, and having a problem is stigmatized. Hopefully, you feel confutable enough in your social circle to let them know that you’re abstaining from alcohol, and you’re having a rough time. You’ll probably be surprised by how supportive your friends are.
Tell Your Friends
Tell your friends that you’re taking the month off or taking a step back to examine your relationship with the sauce. If they are indeed real friends, they will support and encourage you. When I took my first month off (I’ve been sober for almost five years now) I was terrified that my friends wouldn’t think I was this fun-loving, funny guy. I thought sobriety would dull my wit and turn me into an introvert. Well, I’m still fun and funny. But something interesting did happen those first 30 days. I was sitting with a group of friends, and I really didn’t have much to say. I previously worked as a waiter for years and years, so I can usually shoot the shit with anyone. My mind was blank…I had lost my wit and personable personality. My fears were confirmed: I’m not fun without alcohol. I stewed on this for a few days before the lightbulb moment. The problem wasn’t me. It was them. I realized that the only thing I had in common with the friend groups was that we worked together and got shitfaced after. That was our only bond. Five years later, I still keep in touch with the old gang, but the friends I have now are of a higher quality. The point I’m trying to make here is that if your friends aren’t supportive of your decision, lose them—they’re dead weight anyway.
If you‘re still going out with friends while they drink, there are lots of options for you to have a fun nonalcoholic (NA) cocktail. Many restaurants these days offer mocktails, and bartenders can whip one up if you aren’t advertised on the menu. There are also a ton of alcohol-free beers, wines, and even spirits. However, some people find these to be highly triggering. The pretty-damn-close-to-the-real-thing nonalcoholic beers have been known to flip the craving switch. So, if you choose to go the NA beverage route, be mindful that you may be triggered.
Talk to a Professional
Making a change is consequential as quitting drinking—either forever or just a month—may be stressful. You may also realize that you have a problematic relationship with alcohol. Either way, you may want to speak with a licensed therapist. They can help you determine if you do have a problematic relationship with alcohol or if you may require further care.
Taking the month off from alcohol can benefit anyone. Contrary to popular opinion, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a study published a study in The Lancet found alcohol has “no health benefits” and can increase your risk of cancer and liver disease. In fact, alcohol is the seventh leading cause of death in adults worldwide and is the only recreational drug that is toxic to all human cells. So be proud of your decision to be healthier this year and good luck!
If you’ve found that your relationship with alcohol is more concerning than you anticipated, feel free to give us a call at 855-281-5588, Many of us at AspenRidge are in recovery ourselves and can provide you with more information about substance use disorder and how we treat it.