JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Now that we’re in the New Year – some may consider taking on a “Dry January.” The month challenges people to give up alcohol for 31 days.
Dry January started in the UK and is celebrating its 10th year in 2022. Health experts said quitting alcohol-- even for a short time, can help you sleep better, lose weight, and reduce inflammation or bloating.
Author of Stumbling into Sobriety Tracy Collins said staying sober holds multiple benefits for anyone looking to improve their health.
“A lot of people say that what happens is they get into that routine during the holidays of drinking regularly, as well as with the pandemic that increased according to a lot of reports, the adult use of alcohol by 14%, during the pandemic, so this is a nice way to kind of reset the meter and realize that you don’t need to have the alcohol in your life every day,” Collins said.
If no alcohol for 31 days seems like a close-to-impossible undertaking, try it with a partner or friend, someone who can help hold you accountable.
Another trick to make the challenge easier? Implement a new workout regimen or find another beneficial daily activity to substitute in place of a drinking habit.
Be careful of a common pitfall! Once January is over, it is important to try not to make up for lost drinking.
A 2016 study on more than 800 adults in the UK who undertook a Dry January found that most participants drank less and got drunk less frequently afterward, but 11% of participants reported drinking more heavily six months later.
People who are physically dependent on alcohol should consult their physician before starting Dry January because alcohol withdrawal can be fatal for heavy drinkers.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines heavy drinking as follows:
- For men, consuming more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week.
- For women, consuming more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks per week.
For people who find quitting harder than expected, the NIAAA has an online navigation system to help connect patients to alcohol use disorder treatment.
Despite the stigma, millions of Americans have a substance use disorder and it’s important to know that you aren’t alone and help is available.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing substance abuse, mental health crisis, or emotional distress call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or go to https://findtreatment.gov/.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish).