Dry January: Give Dry a Try in 2023
Alcohol Concern’s Dry January campaign has been growing in popularity since its kick-off in 2013. What started as a small public health campaign in England has become a movement hosted by multiple countries. Approximately 19% of adults said they participated in Dry January last year, up from 13% who said the same in 2021. Although millennials currently lead this growth, the popularity of the Alcohol-Free movement is spreading quickly to both older and younger generations.
Why are so many people skipping the booze at the start of the year?
Everybody is different, but the general consensus is there has been a steady increase in our drinking habits over the past few years, and our mental, physical, and spiritual health has suffered as a result.
Alcohol affects our brain chemistry, it creates a sense of euphoria, so it’s no surprise that people turn to drinking during particularly stressful times. I think it’s safe to say that stress, anxiety, and depression have been at an all-time high for many of us over the past few years. Drinking has become an easy way for us to cope with all of this. But how is this habit affecting us?
Even one drink a day over time can wreak havoc on our bodies. From a higher risk of stroke and cancer to a weakened immune system, alcohol has many adverse effects on our bodies.
Regarding our mental health, alcohol can quickly become the enemy.
Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it disrupts the delicate balance of chemicals and processes in the brain. Therefore, our thoughts, feelings, actions, and long-term mental health are affected. As our bodies process alcohol, we can experience psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and agitation.
“Hangxiety” has become a common experience for many individuals who drink, with Instagram and Twitter accounts dedicated to this shared feeling of dread and embarrassment after a night of drinking. Memes make light of this experience and normalize paying for a “fun night out” with an entire day of anxiety and self-hatred.
For a long time, people weren’t comfortable talking about any feelings surrounding their own alcohol consumption. They felt alone in their experience. But times have changed, and people are speaking out. Sobriety is no longer only for the stereotypical alcoholic who has hit rock bottom. Questioning your drinking habits or if alcohol is adding anything positive to your life is a great way to begin a year full of growth. We hear of more and more people choosing an alcohol-free or sober-curious lifestyle every day, and it’s beginning to inspire others to give it a try, even if only for a month.
Better sleep, clearer skin, and more genuine connections with the people around us.
The benefits of limiting alcohol consumption or cutting it out entirely are endless. Many of those who take part in Dry January continue on their sober journey or choose to take part again in following years as a simple reset.
You don’t need to have a “drinking problem” to try out sobriety for a few weeks this year. You don’t even have to commit to an entire month. You can participate however works for you, and know that millions worldwide are doing the same thing while cheering each other on.
Tips to get the most out of your Dry January:
- Do it in a group! It’s much easier and more fun to skip the booze if you have friends doing it with you.
- Research some mocktails to make at home. With companies like Lyre’s, Ritual Zero-Proof, and Athletic Brewing Co., you don’t have to give up your after-work destress beverage. I’ll be posting recipes all month on my Instagram page (@booktails) if you need inspiration.
- Ask your bartenders about non-alcoholic options. Most local bars have NA beer options or can mix up a simple mocktail for you to enjoy. I’m a big fan of a mix of pineapple juice and ginger ale when available.
- Keep a journal to log the positive changes you notice in your body and mind.
- Pick a hobby you’ve been meaning to try out for a while but haven’t found the time to. When you stop drinking, you’ll notice you have more time and money to dedicate to other activities.
- Don’t stress if you slip. Got talked into taking shots while out with friends on Friday? Just start fresh on Saturday. There’s a lot of forgiveness involved with this kind of lifestyle transition. Be kind to yourself and others.
“Alcohol’s Effects on the Body” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohols-effects-body
Moquin, Emily. “Dry January Movement Grows in 2022, but for Many It’s More Damp Than Dry” January 10, 2022. https://morningconsult.com/2022/01/10/dry-january-movement-grows-in-2022/#:~:text=This%20year%2C%20nearly%201%20in,16%20percent%20of%20millennials%20participated.