“…I spoke to a lot of people who tried Dry January, and something I heard
over and over again is that a dry month really helps people to do what I call
a reset and reexamine their relationship with alcohol. Some people told me
that, over the course of the month, they realized they didn't like the hold
that alcohol had over them.”
~ Allison Aubrey, Byline
For the past several years, millions of people around the world have chosen to participate in Dry January, voluntarily giving all alcohol for the entire month. After overindulging during the holiday season that began on Thanksgiving, this is more than just another resolution — it’s also a chance to recamine your habits and to enjoy a life without booze. Best of all, observing Dry January also helps you realize several benefits, both immediate and long-term.
You Will Lose Weight
Because they are cutting out empty alcohol calories, 49% of participants report losing weight, shedding an average of four-and-a-half pounds. For example, there are 153 calories in an average can of bear, and that means drinking just two beers a day results in 112,420 extra calories consumed over the course of a year.
You Will Sleep Better
You may think that alcohol helps you fall asleep and sleep more deeply, and it does — for a while. Over time, drinking before bed also reduces the REM sleep that promotes quality rest, and the more you drink, the worse the disruption. 62% of people who observe Dry January say they slept better.
You Will Have More Energy
Alcohol causes fatigue in several ways:
● It is a Central Nervous System depressant with sedating effects.
● It reduces sleep quality.
● It is a diuretic, which can lead to dehydration.
You Lower Your Risk of Cancer
Alcohol is a factor in 1 out of every 3 cancer deaths, especially breast, head and neck, esophageal, liver, and colorectal. Abstaining from alcohol results in significant decreases in the blood growth factors associated with
Your Liver Health Improves
Liver fat, one of the recognized precursors of liver disease and damage, is reduced by approximately 15%. Of special relevance, 1 in 5 heavy drinkers eventually suffer from cirrhosis and 1 in 3 will develop alcoholic hepatitis. Alcohol abuse is now the leading cause of liver transplants.
Reduces Your Risk of Diabetic Complications
Alcohol causes blood sugar levels to spike, but conversely, excessive drinking may actually lead to a dangerous decrease in blood glucose, especially among individuals with Type I diabetes. Significantly, quitting alcohol is associated with a 30% reduction in your risk of developing diabetes.
You Protect Your Cardiovascular Health
According to recent research, even moderate drinking can damage the heart of senior citizens. Having just one drink a day triggers reduced heart function in senior women. Men who consume more than 14 alcoholic drinks a week suffer enlargement of the heart's left ventricle wall — the pumping chamber. In a related Swedish study, people in their 50s and 60s who drink to excess are at 34% higher risk of stroke than light drinkers.
You Will Save Money
According to a recent survey published by USA Today, millennials spend about twice as much on alcohol as other age groups, shelling out around $300 per month, compared to $151 and $97 a month by Generation Xers and Baby Boomers.
And that’s just the average. If you are a frequent or heavy drinker, you could easily spend double or triple that amount.
Your Drinking Habit Might Change
Participating in Dry January now supports positive changes later. Dr. Shameer Mehta, with the University College London Institute for Liver and Digestive Health, says, “At six to eight months after Dry January, the proportion of participants drinking at harmful levels decreased by 50%. It may be that participating in Dry January allows individuals to ‘reset’ their relationship with alcohol.” In fact, 1 out of every 25 people who observe Dry January remain alcohol-free long-term.
The Bottom Line about Dry January
For most people who observe Dry January, it is just a trendy resolution that has increased in popularity within the past few years, in most ways echoing a larger shift in the general public’s attitude toward drinking. For example, did you know that in 2019, 47% of Americans made a conscious effort to drink less? Among millennials, that figure climbed to 66%. But for some, voluntarily refraining from alcohol — or even just choosing to cut back — is just too hard. And that inability to control your consumption may be a red flag possibly indicating a much more serious problem, such as alcohol dependence or addiction.
Ian Hamillton, who lectures about addiction at the University of York, says, “Overall, Dry January is a good initiative as it prompts people to think about not just how much they drink but what their individual relationship with alcohol is.”
If you are experiencing negative consequences in your life because your drinking has gone beyond your control, Chapman House Behavioral Treatment Centers can help. Since 1978, Chapman House has been one of the most-respected drug and alcohol rehab programs in Orange County, California. By using evidence-based treatment strategies that focus on your needs as an individual Chapman House can empower you to safely and successfully regain and maintain your long-term sobriety.