Taking a Break From Alcohol

Dry January can be a life-changing experience.


It’s a new year! Everyone is making goals, feeling ambitious, and adopting that “new year, new me” mindset. But among all the goals you may or may not have already set for the next 12 months, here is one to consider:

A month without alcohol.

“Dry January” is a challenge first started in the United Kingdom that many people sign up for every year. Participants vow to stop drinking alcohol for the 31 days. Although this challenge can be taken during any month of the year, most people pick January to recover from the excessive amount of alcohol consumption that often occurs during the holiday season.

There has also been an overall rise in excessive drinking since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused experts to encourage alcohol consumers to start taking charge of their habits.

But could giving up alcohol for a short time really make a difference in your life?


Here are a few reasons to participate:

Health benefits

Thirty-two days may not seem like much, but many studies show a plethora of health benefits for those who participate in Dry January. Regular drinkers who took a brief break found improvements in their blood pressure. Many also saw their waistlines diminish in inches according to studies held in Sussex. Others reported better sleep and overall increased energy.

Saved money

Recent studies show that the average drinker in America spends an average of $34 a month on alcoholic beverages. Multiply by 12 and that is over $400 a year. Those who go dry in January often make and stick to wiser spending choices around alcohol for the rest of the year.

Better mental health

Alcohol is often linked to bouts of depression and increased anxiety, especially when drinking so excessively that it leads to hangovers. Taking a month off from drinking can help reduce mental health conditions and symptoms related to your alcohol consumption because of better sleep, less inflammation, fewer headaches, and more.

Related: Don’t Be Embarrassed: How to Talk to Your Healthcare Provider about Mental Health

Lasting habits

Researchers found that even many months after participating in Dry January, some participants had maintained better and less-risky habits in regards to alcohol because of their experiences with going dry for a month.

If Dry January seems like a challenge that you would benefit from, but you aren’t sure if you can commit, there are many resources and helpful tips to help you stick with it for the whole month.

Here are a few things to try:

  • Sign up for the challenge with a friend or family member who can keep you accountable and on track. You can also download the Try Dry app for free to help you keep tabs on your progress and cheer you on.

  • Swap your favorite alcoholic drink with a different, similar tasting non-alcoholic beverage.

  • Remove temptations by suggesting other places to meet instead of the bar when going out with friends. Ridding your home of alcohol can also help you resist.

  • Fill your schedule with wholesome activities that don’t involve drinking. Try a new exercise class, have a game night, indulge in a new hobby that is on your resolutions list. Keep busy in more beneficial ways than drinking.

Related: Building Good Habits That Stick

Lots of people could benefit from going dry for a month. If you want to start the new year strong, give it a try!

If you find it difficult to reduce your alcohol consumption, or feel like your drinking habits have gotten out of hand, it might be time to start taking your consumption seriously. Reach out to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for helpful resources in your area, and your primary care physician can also help you find the right steps to take to build better habits.

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