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Dry January is a one-month, alcohol-free challenge. Some do it as their New Year’s resolution, while others detox from alcohol over the holidays.
Dry January started as a public health campaign in the U.K. in 2014. It has become popular in many countries, particularly the U.S.
In a survey of 15,000 Americans from December 2020, 15% said they would participate in the 2021 Dry January. This figure is higher than the 10% from the previous year.2 The recent one had 9 million participants.1
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Successfully finishing Dry January isn’t easy. There are a lot of temptations, and it’s easier to give up.
If you’re planning on doing Dry January, here are some tips to help you stick to it:
Total abstinence isn’t the only goal available for participants. You can limit your drinks to certain days or gradually decrease the amount you drink.
Creating a plan will help you reach your goal and enjoy the experience.
You should also plan for inevitable invitations to go out drinking. If you drink after work, consider going out for non-drinking activities like bowling, movies, or sports.
Tracking the number of days you’ve gone without drinking can help motivate you throughout Dry January. Here are a few ways to track your progress:
You can also familiarize yourself with standard drink sizes. This helps avoid accidentally consuming more alcohol than intended.
Ask people close to you for support. They can help you stay sober and hold you accountable if they know what you’re doing.
They can help you by:
If you have loved ones who drink, you can ask them to join you.
The urge to drink is sometimes caused by a trigger. These triggers include:
Take this time to identify your triggers. Understanding your triggers can help you avoid them.
If you caved into temptation and had a drink in the middle of January, you may feel guilty and think you failed. You might think of abandoning the challenge and drinking again.
Don’t be held by a single setback. You need to bounce back if you fail one time. Reducing your alcohol use is better than not trying at all.
If you’re a heavy drinker and decide to quit drinking, seek professional help first. Speak with an addiction specialist about your options.
Participating in Dry January has many benefits, including:
Abstaining from alcohol for one month can improve your health. Studies have shown that after one month of not drinking, you can see improvements in your:4,5,6
In a survey that involved 2,200 Americans in January 2021, 79% said the desire to be healthier was their reason for going sober.2
Many people with alcohol use disorder have insomnia because alcohol disrupts sleep quality and duration. Moderate-to-heavy drinking decreases the “restorative” part of sleeping. Alcohol use can also worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.8
However, abstaining from alcohol for one month can improve your sleep. Seventy-one percent of surveyed Dry January participants in 2018 said they slept better.4
Immunity rises first when a healthy person goes on a binge-drinking session. However, it drops 2 to 5 hours later, making the person an easy target for infection.10
Chronic drinkers are also more prone to severe diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who don’t drink too much.3 Abstaining from alcohol for a month can improve your immune system.
Ditching alcohol could decrease your caloric intake. Alcoholic drinks contain around 7 calories per gram, equivalent to a gram of fat.9
Drinking can also cause you to pick unhealthy foods that go nicely with alcohol. You can even eat beyond the point of fullness.
Abstaining from alcohol for one month can improve your weight. Fifty-five percent of surveyed Dry January participants in 2018 reported losing weight.4
Eighty percent of surveyed Dry January participants in 2018 feel more in control of their drinking. Many participants were still drinking less by August, as supported by the following statistics:4, 11
People who drank a lot before Dry January saw a more significant decline in the amount and frequency. This means the one-month hiatus from alcohol provides more benefits to heavy drinkers.
Alcohol is a diuretic. It will cause you to urinate more, making it harder for your body to hydrate. Insufficient hydration is one reason for dry skin.
Alcohol can also increase blood sugar and certain hormones, which can cause acne. Alcoholic toxins also speed up the skin’s aging process. In 2018, fifty-four percent of surveyed Dry January participants said their skin improved.4
Whether people drink again or stay sober, Dry January provides a great opportunity to reflect on their drinking behavior. Among the surveyed participants of the 2018 Dry January:4
Contact a healthcare professional before participating in Dry January. This can help you avoid unpleasant or unwanted side effects.
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