Dry January: What Is It and How Can It Improve Health in the New Year?
New Year’s Eve is one of the drunkest nights of the year. Many will be waking up on New Year’s Day with unbearable hangovers, saying they’ll never drink again.
Dry January is a great way to explore an alcohol-free life and discover the health benefits of a sober lifestyle. It’s also a helpful way to begin recovery from alcohol use disorder.
Giving up alcohol has become a favorite New Year’s Resolution that is often thrown to the wayside. Dry January has empowered more and more people to stick to it.
What Is Dry January and How Long Has It Been A Thing?
Dry January is exactly what it sounds like. Participants stop drinking alcohol for the entire month of January with absolutely no cheat days.
The event was first established in 2013, when a little over 4,300 people made the pledge. Since then, more than five million per year have joined, and it’s gained considerable traction here in the US.
However difficult it can be to just abruptly give up alcohol, Dry January participants have reported numerous health benefits. This includes lower blood sugar, reversal of fatty liver disease, better sleep and more energy each day.
What Does Alcohol Do to the Body?
Excessive drinking can lead to serious long and short-term psychological effects. It can also lead to the irreparable damage of various organs through inflammation, toxicity and other negative factors.
- The Liver – Alcohol consumption can seriously aggravate fatty liver disease. Over 30 percent of patients with this condition go on to alcoholic hepatitis. Another 10 to 20 percent go on to develop life-threatening cirrhosis.
- The Heart – Binge drinking can cause irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias and different types of coronary artery disease.
- The Pancreas – Excessive alcohol use can quickly lead to chronic and acute pancreatitis and inflamed blood vessels in the organ. It can also compromise the pancreas’s role in sugar processing, increasing the risk of diabetes.
Even those who claim they don’t have a drinking problem but still drink every day are vulnerable to these issues. While abruptly quitting drinking won’t automatically reverse them, starting with a month of sobriety can help people on their way to healing.
Health and Lifestyle Benefits of Staying Dry
Alcohol Change UK reports that 88 percent of Dry January participants saved money, 71 percent slept better and 58 percent lost weight. Data from Sussex University indicates that Dry January participants generally adopted healthier year-round drinking habits.
Drinking days fell on average from four to three per week. The drinks consumed per day dropped on average from around nine to seven. The frequency of being drunk also dropped from three per month to two per month on average.
Other lifestyle benefits discovered include:
- 93% of Participants Had A Sense of Achievement
- 82% Think More Deeply about their Relationship with Alcohol
- 80% Feel More in Control of Their Drinking;
- 76% Learned More about their Drinking Habits
- 71% Realized they Don’t Need a Drink to Enjoy Themselves
- 70% Had Generally Improved Health
- 67% Had More Energy
- 57% Had Better Concentration
- 54% Had Better Skin
Many chose to extend their Dry January well into the year, and have become mindful of the impact of drinking.
How Do I Participate?
Throughout its evolution, Dry January has enabled engagement in multiple ways. For those who want to formalize their challenge and really embrace the spirit of the event, they can:
- Download the app to track time and progress
- Throw away or give away all the booze that you have laying around
- Develop a personalized daily and long-term prevention plan to avoid social drinking
- Substitute alcohol with fun and healthy rewards
- Follow the dry January blog and consult the guide
More serious participants can take things to the next level. You can always attend support groups in your area and research fun and innovative sober party options.
Is Dry January for Me?
The short answer to this question is yes. It’s never a bad idea to take a month off from drinking. This is especially true when you’re noticing it affect your health and quality of life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers clear guidelines that distinguish between excessive and moderate drinking. Rather than get hung up on labels, however, why not just give Dry January a try?
It’s a great way to hit the reset button on your drinking and evaluate the effect it’s had on your everyday life. If you’re suffering from serious alcohol use disorder, consult your doctor if you want to participate in Dry January. You might need help managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Dry January and Recovery: What’s the Connection?
For those who have been considering getting treatment for alcohol addiction, Dry January can be a springboard to lasting recovery. The event offers a built-in sense of community and has motivated millions of people toward taking that first step.
Maybe you’ve received a DUI and are seriously contemplating your drinking habits. Has alcohol caused you to miss more and more days of work?
Your drinking might be costing you money or has led to a serious and potentially life-threatening diagnosis. It’s possible that it’s destroying your family and social relationships.
Whatever your reason for seeking alcohol addiction treatment, Dry January can help you get started. If you’re struggling with alcohol use disorder, Recovery Unplugged is ready to help. We can help you make Dry January a reality throughout the year and the rest of your life.