Thinking of trying Dry January? Here are some tips to help you start the New Year booze-free.
What is Dry January?
Dry January is the name given to the annual event where people undertake a monthlong alcohol-free challenge. The idea behind it is that if you give up drinking for 31 days, your body will have time to recover, and you may consume less in the future.
The event was initially started by Alcohol Concern, a UK charity that deals with alcohol misuse problems, in 2013.
Since 2013, the campaign has grown globally in popularity, with participants ranging from teenagers to grandparents and everyone in between. The challenge is particularly popular with sober-curious Millennials and Gen Z. They are driving its comeback this month as we kick off 2022.
Why Should You Participate in Dry January 2022?
One of the driving forces behind participating in Dry January is the lure of potential benefits related to the challenge. Alcohol Concern shares that 70% of people sleep better, 86% save money, and 65% experience an overall improvement in their health when they take a pause from the substance. Mental health is another area that improves as your mind gets clearer. Some might even experience an improvement in their mood.
There is also the potential for initiating long-term change. Many participants use the time to be reflective about their relationship to alcohol. Some use it to explore sober living, and others adopt more healthy and moderate drinking practices.
Research has shown that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way people drink. 58% of global consumers are drinking more non-alcoholic and low-ABV cocktails in 2022 than a year ago, according to The Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report for the year. Last year there was a rise in interest in the sober-curious movement. It began transcending even the trendy dry months like Dry January and Sober October. It seems the non-alcoholic trend is here to stay.
Potential Health Benefits of Dry January
The rise of widespread interest in sobriety options has also piqued the medical community's interest. Medical experts are exploring the specific benefits of Dry January for overall physical and mental wellness. Research published in 2018, conducted by the Royal Free Hospital and published in the British Medical Journal, found that a month off alcohol:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces diabetes risk
- Lowers cholesterol
- Reduces levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood
Trying to make changes to your physique? Removing alcohol from your diet also reduces weight and slim up your waistline. Taking the high-calorie beverages off the table for even a month can help with melting off the inches. Alcohol is also known to affect sleep, and disruptions to a healthy sleep pattern can have long-lasting adverse effects. Taking a break from drinking can help you reset your internal clock.
Being sober for a month can also help reduce other health issues and diseases like diabetes, liver, and heart disease. Overall the benefits are abundant. Heavy drinkers should talk to a medical professional as stopping cold turkey could be risky.
Dry January Stats
Alcohol Concern UK releases data regularly about Dry January based on the thousands who sign up through their organization. In 2019 they surveyed over 6,000 Dry January participants. They found that: 86% had saved money, 81% felt more in control of their drinking, 70% were sleeping better, 67% had better concentration, 66% had more energy, 65% had generally better health, and 54% had lost weight. This year the organization has projected the following:
- One in six (18%) adults who drink alcohol plan to have a month off drinking in January, or one in seven (15%) of all UK adults.
- One in three of those planning to take a break would prefer to participate in Dry January, rather than trying to give up alcohol on their own for January.
- Almost three in ten drinkers (30%) have found themselves drinking more in 2021, compared to 2020, and one in four (25%) would like to cut down.
How to Survive Dry January
There are ways you can maximize your likelihood of getting to the end of January without drinking alcohol. Here are 7 tips for a way to plan for success on your journey without booze!
Eliminating Temptation Within Your Home is Mission-Critical!
The first step you can take for starting Dry January is to eliminate all temptation from your home. One of the things you have the most control over is your own environment. If you tend to drink at home, move the alcohol to a safe place where it can't be easily accessed. Remove or hide them in the back of your pantry, under other items like paper towels or boxes. Also, think of things that trigger your drinking. If you drink while cooking, maybe you should hide your stash somewhere other than the kitchen. Do you tend to smoke a cigarette or vape when you drink? Get rid of ashtrays, lighters, or chargers and tackle two bad habits at once!
Enlisting a Sober Buddy Will Help Keep You Motivated.
Having an accountability partner tends to make most difficult tasks more bearable. Talk to your friends and family to see if anyone else would like to participate in the challenge. Set up a group chat or Zoom check-in to keep tabs on each other's progress. You can also get together and replace your version of happy hour with another mood-boosting group activity. Having another person who understands the challenges can keep you motivated and help when struggling with withdrawal or temptation.
Setting Goals and Taking Them One Day at a Time is Vital!
Another helpful tip for approaching Dry January is to start by making a list of goals. Many begin the year with resolutions, but it is not always easy to stick to them. It may be beneficial to write yours down and display the list as a visual reminder of your intentions. Put it on your vision board and check back in with your goals along the way.
You are more likely to have a successful Dry January if you start by setting small, realistic milestones. According to recent research, you’re also more likely to follow smaller goals in the early stages of this resolution. You may not be able to completely abstain right away. Instead, you can try to reduce the number of drinks per week or slowly refrain from purchasing your favorite booze. If you try doing it in small increments, you can build up to sobriety and still experience the benefits. Try using an app like TRY DRY: The Dry January app to keep track of your success!
Journaling Through January Might be Motivational.
Some people have picked up drinking as an unhealthy coping mechanism when dealing with overwhelming thoughts. Journaling is a healthier alternative that can keep you motivated throughout the sobriety challenge. With less alcohol consumption resulting in a clearer mind, it may be helpful to keep a diary to process all those feelings. It's entirely normal for feelings of discomfort to arise, and having a healthy place to process them is critical.
Not sure what to write? Try a guided journal or search for Dry January journal prompts.
Healthy Alternatives to Alcohol are On the Rise! Some of the Best Drinks Were Released in Time for January 2022!
There are tons of other options out there for healthily coping with a sober social life. Non-alcoholic wine or mocktails might help to quench your thirst. Mocktails aren't new, but they've definitely gotten an update lately, making sober alternatives more popular. For example, WhistlePig Whiskey released their limited-edition bottles of the world's first aged non-alcoholic whiskey varieties: Rye, WhistlePig PiggyBack Devil’s Slide, and 100% Rye Aged Non-Whiskey. Canned mocktails and fruit juices continue to be a popular option. Brands like Recess, known for their relaxing CBD drinks, released a limited-edition zero-proof margarita flavor.
Are you a cannabis user? Weed is already a popular alternative to drinking, so January is a perfect time to explore being Cali Sober. No time like the present to get high and dry!
You Don't Have to Commit to Being a Shut-In.
The nightlife industry is getting on the sobriety train. There are actually places out there with great non-alcoholic drink options. Try meeting your friends at your favorite espresso bar, or if you prefer to drink tea, maybe try out a boba bar. Juice bars are also an option, or try a fancy tea house with exotic loose leaf teas.
There may be local organizations planning awareness events. Keep a lookout for similar events in your city, or start your own! Living alcohol-free does not have to mean isolating yourself.
You Shouldn't Give Up If You Slip Up!
Remember to be patient with yourself. You may feel unmotivated or have a brief relapse, but you can choose to start again if it's feasible. Researchers say that it is still beneficial to participate even if you cannot make it all the way through Dry January. Many participants who made it through less than the whole month sober still saw their health improve. It's also a process, so not beating yourself up is key! With sober living continuing to trend, you will have more opportunities to try again!