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Why Make January Dry?

Why Make January Dry?

New year, better you! Many people use the new year as a time to create new goals or try to get back on track after the holiday season when they may have overindulged and been out of their routine. In recent years, the concept of “Dry January” has become an increasingly popular campaign where people voluntarily stop drinking alcohol after the excesses of December and start the new year on a sober, clearer, more refreshed and healthy note.

A brief break from alcohol even for moderate drinkers can produce immediate benefits including better sleep, improved blood pressure, weight loss, clearer complexion, liver recovery, and a boost to the immune system. Heavy drinkers who take a break might also notice they have less heartburn and reflux, feel less irritable and anxious, and have fewer headaches. It’s important to know where you stand – moderate drinking is considered two drinks or less in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women. Heavy drinking is consuming five or more drinks on any day or 15 or more per week for men and four or more on any day or eight or more drinks per week for women.

If a month of not drinking seems like a challenge, here are some tips to help you stay on track:

  • Find a substitute non-alcoholic drink - Mocktails are great for social situations. Reach for alcohol-free beverages like sparkling water, soda, or virgin beverages (non-alcoholic versions of alcoholic drinks.)
  • Avoid temptations. Keep alcohol out of your house for the month. When you are invited to someone's home, bring your non-alcoholic drinks with you.
  • Create a support group. Let friends and family know about your intentions and encourage them to keep you accountable. Better yet, enlist someone to do the challenge with you.
  • Don't give up. If you slip up, don't feel guilty. Just begin again the next day.

If the urge to drink feels out of your control, you feel guilty about your drinking or it causes problems for you at work or in your relationships and you’re unable to stop, alcohol may have become a problem that Dry January just can’t fix. Contact your physician to assess your relationship with alcohol and get you on a healthier path. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, the SAMHSA’s national helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7 resource: 1-800-662-HELP (4357).