Dry January and the Benefits of Sobriety
January not only marks the beginning of a new year, but it seems to be deeply imbedded in the human psyche that we all have new opportunities because of the new calendar year. And although any time in a twelve-month period is a great time to seek help when battling an addiction to alcohol, making Dry January a “fun” opportunity to experience sobriety is a great endeavor. Perhaps even one that can continue throughout the rest of the year. Just make sure you are doing so safely by consulting a licensed physician ahead of time, as withdrawal from alcohol for some individuals can be dangerous and even lethal. Dry January is an activity where the individual abstains from alcohol for the first month of the year.
How Can Dry January Lead to a Life of Sobriety?
Some have suggested that the annual Dry January challenge attracts individuals with the lowest risk of alcohol-related health problems. It is true that those who drink less find that abstaining from alcohol for a month to be a lot easier than an individual who is a heavier drinker. However, there may be benefits for both.
Please keep in mind that an individual struggling with an alcohol use disorder (AUD), or has an active addiction to alcohol, should consult a licensed physician prior to abstaining from drinking. Abruptly stopping alcohol consumption in some circumstances may be lethal.
For those who find themselves simply drinking a little more due to the stresses associated with the pandemic, for example, checking in with a licensed physician is still advised, but once you have their approval, cutting back on your alcohol intake may eventually turn into a healthy habit.
Benefits to decreasing alcohol consumption:
- Gives individuals an opportunity to look at their relationship with alcohol more objectively in order to make choices about whether they should cut back on alcohol or remove it from their diet altogether. For example, do you drink in order to be comfortable in social situations? Or do you use it as a way to manage stress?
- Weight loss.
- Better sleep.
- Clearer complexion.
- Saving money.
According to an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina, Dr. James C. Garbutt explains that the pandemic has contributed to stress for almost everyone and that many have increased their alcohol intake.
Sharon Wilsnack, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the University of North Dakota, shared that “Dry January is a useful tool in telling to what extent we have become dependent on alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Dry January is a great opportunity to start moving forward along that road to sobriety.
3 steps to contributing to a successful Dry January:
- Schedule activities throughout the month you enjoy doing (that don’t involve alcohol consumption). This is an opportunity to try something new or to revisit activities you haven’t done in a while.
- Create an environment to help you win. Dispose of all alcoholic beverages in your household or ask a friend or family member if you can keep your libations at their home for the month.
- Ask a friend to do Dry January with you. This way, you can hold each other accountable.
In the end, the choice to try Dry January is ultimately up to you. But it is a great start to what could potentially turn into a sober life.
And if you find that you’re struggling with an AUD, help is always within reach. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leader in addiction treatment. We have facilities across the United States that provide medical detox, inpatient and outpatient treatment, as well as aftercare planning and sober living locations. AAC offers treatment care in a supportive environment to help individuals reach long-term sobriety. If you’re currently struggling with an active addiction to alcohol, please reach out to get the help you need today.