Sober Curious? Embrace ‘Dry January’

  • Written by:

    Bedrock Recovery Center

  • Dr. Johnelle Smith
    Medically reviewed by:

    Johnelle Smith, M.D

Embracing Dry January

If you or your loved one are interested in pursuing sobriety but don’t know how to get started, you can explore Dry January this New Year.

Dry January refers to the first month of the New Year when many people commit to cutting alcohol out of their lifestyle for 31 days.

And it’s not too late to get started. Even if you missed out on the first few days of Dry January, you can hop in whenever you’re ready and get an idea of what it means to be sober.

How Dry January Can Help You To Get Sober

For people who have never tried getting sober, you may wonder what the point of Dry January is and whether it can really help you to get sober. 

No matter your level of alcohol consumption, Dry January can offer you a positive reboot to start 2022 off right by detoxing from alcohol.

Here are some of the reasons Dry January can help you to start the path to sobriety:

  • Short time frame: Dry January is only a commitment of one month, meaning you can try it out for a limited time and see how you feel at the end of the sober month.
  • It’s a good first step: Getting sober can be intimidating, but this is an attainable goal for many people to help you get started.
  • Culturally accepted: If you’re worried about what others might think about the idea of “getting sober,” this is a widely known challenge that can take some of the pressure off.
  • Resources: If you want an extra boost, you can find Dry January support groups, peer support from friends participating, therapy, and treatment options.
  • Motivation: Once you see the benefits of staying sober for a short time, you may find the motivation to continue pursuing that sobriety long-term.

How To Embrace Dry January

If this is your first time trying out sobriety, don’t put too much pressure on Dry January. This is a great first step, but sobriety and recovery are personal goals and look different for everyone.

Especially if you have a co-occurring disorder or longer history with alcohol addiction, it might take some time and outside support to find what works for you.

To help you get started, we’ve gathered a few tips on how to best pursue Dry January:

  • Get rid of any alcohol in your home.
  • Find a support group, such as a Dry January Facebook group, or use the Try Dry app, a free app available to people participating in Dry January.
  • Replace drinking with a new habit, such as drinking lemon water.
  • Use this as a time to self-reflect and address your mental health.
  • Surround yourself with people who support your participation in Dry January.
  • If you’re going to bars, clubs, or parties, offer yourself as the designated driver.
  • Pursue new hobbies and social pursuits if old pastimes typically revolve around alcohol.
  • Start going to therapy.
  • Instead of having an all-or-nothing mindset, allow room for failure and minor slip-ups.
  • Avoid mental health and alcohol use triggers.

The Benefits Of Trying Out Dry January

There are many benefits of participating in Dry January, including improvements in your physical and mental health.

Improved Sleep

Drinking alcohol has been linked to poor-quality sleep. It might help you to fall asleep quicker, but the quality of sleep you’re getting after drinking alcohol is worse.

During Dry January, you may find that you feel more rested and energized in the morning after a better night of rest.

Better Heart Health

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), excessive drinking can have several negative implications on your heart.

Heart health risk factors of drinking alcohol include:

  • stroke
  • high blood pressure
  • arrhythmias (an irregular heartbeat)

Researchers have also found that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with an immediately higher cardiovascular risk.

If you quit drinking, even for just a month, you’re significantly reducing your risk of developing these complications and promoting better heart health.

Improved Mental Health

While alcohol typically suppresses symptoms of mental health issues — such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder — it does nothing to cure the issue.

Additionally, alcohol tends to exacerbate issues of mental health disorders.

You may find that your moods are more stable and more manageable when you’re not drinking alcohol.

Changes To Liver Function

Many people are already aware of the damaging effects alcohol can have on your liver. But even if you do not drink heavily, alcohol can take its toll on your liver.

The liver can suffer from complications such as:

  • steatosis, abnormal retention of fat in the liver
  • alcoholic hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver caused by drinking alcohol
  • fibrosis, which can lead to liver failure
  • cirrhosis, a late-stage liver disease characterized by permanently damaged liver tissue

Dry January can help to slow down or stop some of these issues and inflammations from happening.

Stronger Immune System

Alcohol can also greatly weaken your immune system, making your body more vulnerable to sickness, disease, and viruses, including Covid-19.

When you replace alcohol with healthy alternatives like water, you can increase your body’s ability to fight off these infections and illnesses.

Better Hydration

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it rids your body of salt and water. This is what causes headaches and migraines the day after drinking during a hangover.

Throughout Dry January, you can replace alcoholic drinks with water and other nourishing beverages to replenish your body’s supply.

Get Help Embracing Dry January

This New Year, use Dry January as a chance to improve your physical and mental wellbeing by abstaining from alcohol.

At Bedrock Recovery Center, we understand how hard it can be to take that first step. Call our helpline to learn about treatment options for people who are sober curious.

Sources:

Harvard Health Publishing — Thinking of trying Dry January? Steps for success

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Alcohol’s Effects on the Body

Sleep Foundation — Alcohol and Sleep

U.S. National Library of Medicine — Alcohol and Immediate Risk of Cardiovascular Events: A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis