For those who are unfamiliar, Dry January is a public health campaign that urges participants to abstain from alcohol for the entire month of January. The origins of Dry January stem back to as early as 1942 in Finland but has recently gained traction and attention in the United States and in the United Kingdom. For some, Dry January is part of one’s New Year’s Resolution to drink less, while others claim it’s a way to detox from the excessive drinking done over the holidays. Regardless of one’s reasoning behind remaining sober for the entire month of January, it is unarguable that many benefits are reaped through the process of participating in Dry January. Understanding and experiencing the benefits gained from engaging in Dry January, it is presumed that one can transition into a sober lifestyle with ease during the following months.
Let’s first examine Four Key Benefits derived from abstaining from alcohol in Dry January (and beyond):
1. More Money: It goes without question that cutting back on your alcohol intake will save you some cash. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend about $565 a year on alcohol… that’s $22,600 over a 40-year period! Avoiding alcohol for just one month will save you a significant amount of money that can be spent elsewhere.
2. No Hangovers: Probably the most obvious benefit of partaking in Dry January and maintaining sobriety afterwards is that giving up booze will spare yourself from those unwanted hangovers. Instead of being immobile and stationary in your bed Saturday & Sunday morning, you can actually seize and enjoy the day!
3. Healthier Skin: Piper, CEO for Alcohol Concern stated that people who partake in Dry January may already be experiencing clearer and less dry skin. Those who continue to maintain sobriety after just four weeks, will typically notice their skin becoming less and less puffy. “If you stop drinking and keep yourself hydrated, your skin will likely thank you for it,” Dr. Luke James, medical director for Health Clinics at Bupa UK stated. On top of clearer skin, those who avoid alcohol will usually experience weight loss!
4. Better Mood: After a drink, we may experience a sense of relief. Sometimes we may feel perky and other times a drink can simply relieve us of stress and anxiety. Over time though, alcohol consumption may become a main coping strategy. Ashley Jones, ARPN-CNP, a certified family nurse practitioner at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center says, “alcohol tends to make these symptoms (anxiety, depression, etc.) worse, so you may find that your mood is actually more stable when not consuming alcohol.” Simply put, when you are not under the influence, it is easier to recognize negative feelings. When these particular feelings are apparent, perhaps therapy, talking to a doctor or exercise could help relieve and suppress these emotions.
Maintaining sobriety beyond Dry January may seem like a daunting task, but it is imperative to grasp the concept that long-term sobriety leads to bountiful health, financial and social benefits. When a clear understanding of the benefits to sobriety is gained through one partaking in Dry January, it is easier for that individual to continue the journey to full-time sobriety.
If a struggle ensues to remain sober after the month of January, here are Four Tips to Maintain Sobriety:
1. Write Down all the reasons why you’d like to give up drinking and display it for yourself to see on a daily basis. A constant reminder of the negative consequences that arise when under the influence and positive consequences of sobriety, can help you avoid alcohol altogether.
2. Determine the Aspirations you wish to achieve now that you’re no longer spending time and energy drinking. Perhaps spending more time with family or rebuilding relationships? Achieving better physical health by going to the gym? Engaging in an enjoyable hobby early Saturday mornings?! Starting to learn the guitar you’ve always wanted to play?! The possibilities are endless.
3. Avoid Alcohol. Remove all of the alcohol from your home to deter you from falling victim to temptation. It’s a lot easier to maintain sobriety when alcohol isn’t in arm’s reach. Furthermore, until you feel you have a strong hold on triggers try to avoid situations where alcohol is present. It’s important when doing this you replace those situations with positive ones so as not to isolate yourself.
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4. Find Support! You’d be surprised how many friends, loved ones, co-workers and even strangers can help be supportive when it comes to you trying to maintain sobriety. Perhaps, support could come from a family member refusing to drink around you. Other times, support comes in the form of a friend spending quality time with you without alcohol being present. Reach out for guidance, support and help. It may seem easier said than done but get in the habit of asking for support from the people you are closest with. They’ll usually understand and be happy to be of assistance.
There are many resources available to help those struggling with alcohol dependency. If abstaining from alcohol is seemingly too difficult, please reach out for help.
Author: Michael Kelly, Clinical Technician