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What “Dry January” Can Teach You

by Mitch Kline

January 3, 2023
Empty green beer bottles artfully stacked.

What is Dry January?

Whether you’ve overindulged during the holidays or think you might actually have a drinking problem trying a “Dry January” can teach you about your relationship with alcohol. What’s Dry January? It’s a pledge or commitment to abstain from alcohol for the entire month of January. Unlike other New Year’s resolutions, which are usually focused on lifestyle changes like exercising, dieting or saving money, Dry January is more about taking a break from booze and testing the waters of sobriety.

Why Should You Try Dry January?

Alcohol remains one of the largest contributors to premature death in the world. Consumption of alcohol increases your risk for a myriad of diseases, including hypertension, stroke, pancreatitis, reduced bone density, colorectal cancer, fatty liver and oral cancer, just to name a few. Perhaps the largest impact of alcohol is how it affects the brain. Drinking alcohol can change your mood and alter your behavior. Alcohol makes it harder for you to think clearly, concentrate and move with coordination. So taking a break from alcohol can give your body and mind a chance to recover and return to normal function. Recent studies show that people who abstained from drinking for a month continued to drink less six months later. Even trying not to drink for a week could be beneficial and help you recalibrate how you see alcohol use.

What Dry January Can Teach You

Trying Dry January can be a good test to see how reliant you’ve become on alcohol. If you’re not able to abstain from drinking for 31 days it could be a sign that you’ve developed an addiction to alcohol. Doctors say that people who are able to go a month without drinking alcohol experience reduced cravings and tend to have a healthier understanding of how alcohol impacts them. Successfully completing Dry January can teach you a lot about yourself, including how to control triggers, deal with peer pressure and what life without alcohol is like. The most important thing that Dry January can help you understand is how strong of a hold alcohol has over you.

Benefits of Dry January include saving money and better sleep.

Five Tips For Dry January

  1. Know why you’re going dry.
    Decide what you’re doing Dry January for. This will help give you the motivation to succeed and something to think about if you start to crave alcohol. If it’s only to avoid hangovers you probably need to consider other reasons, like wanting to sleep better, make deeper connections with family members or gain clarity.
  2. Find a tribe
    It’s much easier to hold yourself accountable when you’re in it with others. Talk to family and friends about doing Dry January together. Then share how you’re going to accomplish this feat. You can all plan sober hangs or share strategies.
  3. Change your routine
    If you often drink at the same time every day, or every time you go out, then change things up. Talk a walk after work or go see a movie. Instead of going out to a bar pick a fun activity or game night. The idea is to do something different. This can help reduce cravings.
  4. Eat Good
    We’re more likely to drink or use substances when we’re hungry or aren’t getting the nutrients we need. So make sure you’re eating enough and eating healthy. Food has a big impact on cravings for substances, like alcohol.
  5. Grant yourself grace
    Even if you slip and have a drink or two, don’t give up. The whole point of Dry January is to try and see if you can go without drinking. If you can’t, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure or bad person. It just means you’ve learned something about your self. Figure out what caused you to drink and try to avoid that situation.

Are you Drinking Too Much?

Dry January can help you cut down on drinking.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks (five or more for men) in one sitting. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that men consume no more than two drinks per day and women consume one drink or less per day.

Could Alcohol Addiction Treatment Help?

If you’ve tried Dry January and failed, or just can’t stop drinking alcohol it may be time for you to seek professional help. Whether you choose inpatient addiction treatment or outpatient services, talking with a substance use expert can give you the tools and understanding you need to take control over your drinking. Many people find that going through just 30 days of treatment vastly improves their ability to abstain from alcohol.

Talk with a doctor, or call an addiction specialist to see if treatment could be right for you. Landmark Recovery’s admission specialists are always available to discuss treatment options and cost. If you can’t stay dry consider getting the help you need today.

 

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