Dry January 2021

in Addiction
Olivia Pennelle
Published Dec 29, 2020
Dry January

January is a time of new beginnings and promise for the year ahead. You might have set some New Year’s goals or intentions, such as drinking less or taking part in a month-long health challenge, like Dry January. Whether you want to improve your relationship with alcohol, try to stop drinking, or just take a break, Dry January might help you achieve that goal.

We’ve got you covered with the basics of Dry January, the impacts on your health (and your wallet!), challenges you can try, and how to seek more support.

What is Dry January?

Dry January simply means going alcohol-free for the month of January. The origins of this challenge began in 2013 when organization Alcohol Concern in the UK launched a campaign aimed toward helping people “reset their relationship with alcohol.” But the challenge isn’t limited to the UK – it is practiced globally!

What are the benefits of Dry January?

Taking a break from alcohol can have benefits not only on your wallet, with 86 percent of people reporting saving money during Dry January, but on your health, too. Experts also claim that a month sans alcohol has the following health benefits:

  • 70 percent of people sleep better
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced risk of diabetes
  • Improved skin tone
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Stronger immunity
  • Reduced levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood
  • An improved relationship with alcohol, if you decide to go back to it more mindfully. Further research showed that 70 percent of those who take part in Dry January are more likely to drink more healthily for the rest of the year.

Conversely, the negative health impacts of alcohol are associated with more than 60 health conditions, including liver disease, high blood pressure, depression, impaired sleeping patterns, increased cholesterol, liver problems and an increased risk of certain diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer.

Also, alcohol is a known carcinogen that can significantly impact mental health, as well as your relationships. As an addictive substance, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol use disorder and the need for detox. See more about this below.

Dry January challenges

There are lots of sober challenges that you can try for Dry January, including:

What might also help is reading about why others decided to get sober.

Why people got sober in January

Licensed social worker and author Ann Dowsett Johnston (you can find her book, along with other top recovery books here) tells us the reason she decided to stop drinking in January:

“My behavior around the Christmas season (2007) crossed all boundaries. That January was astringent: I was ashamed and determined–just done.”

For Diane, she too felt the weight of drinking during Christmas as a motivator. She explains:

“I got sober at the end of January 2005, in the wake of a Christmas during which I bought no presents and slept through the entire day after Christmas. My strongest memory of those early days of recovery is that spring seemed to come very early, and that the budding of leaves and emergence of the sun seemed to reflect the new hope I’d found.”

Randy didn’t choose January in particular, it just happened to be the month he changed his relationship with alcohol. He says: “Honestly getting sober in January was just when it happened and had nothing to do with the New Year. The last time I used any drugs, alcohol or mood altering substance was January 9, 2005.” His sobriety took a little longer, when he was sent to county jail for bringing drugs to the recovery residence. Reflecting on this experience, he wasn’t demotivated and continued in his treatment program. He says “It took me 10 months to complete a 60 day program!”

Jo, too, struggled with the holidays and found help at work. She explains:

“After having the worst Christmas of my life when I was living in my parent’s house with my teenage daughters, my boyfriend ended our relationship on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas). I went back to work after New Year’s and my boss convinced me to see a friend of his from AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and she convinced me that recovery was not only possible but actually wonderful. I trusted her and others and now I’m 9 years sober. It was the best decision of my life.”

Jo reminds us: “Christmas can still be tough but each year I feel less guilty and relax a little more.”

Another really motivating story is that of Kelly Fitzgerald Junco, founder of popular blog the
Sober Señorita. She wrote a blog about her first year without alcohol that went viral and ended up in HuffPost: 7 Things I learned During My Year Without Alcohol.

How to have a successful Dry January
  • Lofty goals without actionable steps can result in losing momentum or feeling like you’re failing. That’s why it’s important when setting a goal, like Dry January, that you have a strategy to stick to your goal (you can read more about goal setting here). Strategies could include:
  • Know your why. Writing down the reasons why you want to take part in Dry January is helpful to refer to, especially when tempted to reach for the wine after a stressful day. It can be easy to forget those good intentions. Maybe stick the list to your fridge or keep a note in your wallet.
  • Remove temptation. It might be worth getting rid/donating or just putting away booze at home for the duration of the challenge. If it’s not in a reachable distance then you’re less likely to use the reflex of reaching for it.
  • Stay accountable. By telling a loved one that your taking part in this challenge might help you stay accountable
  • Exercise. Try joining the gym or a new workout to refocus your energy and help boost those health benefits. Exercise also offers the stress relief that you might look for in a glass of wine or beer!
  • Find a substitute. There are loads of alcohol free drinks that taste delicious. You might find our blog on sober mocktail ideas helpful
  • Avoid triggers. Places associated with drinking, like bars, may be too triggering or it may be too easy to say “what the heck” and grab a drink. Alternative social ideas include meeting friends for brunch or a walk in the park instead.
  • Plan for urges. It’s helpful to have a list of things you can do if you feel the urge to drink. That might include working out, calling a friend, practicing yoga or meditation, or speaking to a therapist.
  • Learn how to say no. It might also be helpful to plan a list of responses to give to people when declining a drink. You might also like to read our blog, How To Tell Friends and Family You Don’t Drink.
Are you drinking too much?

It’s important to know about healthy drinking limits if you plan to return to drinking after Dry January. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that women have no more than 3 drinks on any day, and no more than 7 per week. Men should have no more than 4 drinks in a single day and no more than 14 drinks per week. You can read more about safe drinking limits here.

If you are struggling with stopping drinking, or experiencing alcohol withdrawal, it’s important to seek care from a healthcare provider. We’ve listed some additional resources and steps you can take if you need help with alcohol.

Steps to take if you need help with alcohol

What’s important to note is that Dry January could be a great opportunity to change your relationship with alcohol, or even highlight where you might need additional support.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, we are here to help. At Gallus Medical Detox Centers, we bring compassion to the commotion. Peace to the pain. Empowerment to the powerless. If you or someone you know needs support with addiction problems, bring us your battle. Call us today and take the best, first step towards recovery: 720-704-1432

You might also like…

What Does an Alcohol Detox Look Like?

How Do People Recover from Addiction?

Key Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

How to Detox from Alcohol