Menu Close

Healing, Strengthening, and Advancing the Lives of LGBTQ People Seeking Recovery

Dry January and Sobriety — What’s the Connection?

Young man refusing alcoholic drink

Dry January isn’t just a fad; it’s become an annual tradition for millions worldwide. This month-long challenge invites people from all walks of life to take a break from alcohol and reflect on its role in their lives.

But is that all it’s good for? Or is there a deeper connection between Dry January and sobriety? We’ll explore that question and offer practical tips to help you navigate and complete Dry January.

Ready to stop drinking? Call La Fuente today at 888.903.9898. 

What is Dry January? 

Dry January is a yearly campaign run by Alcohol Change UK that invites participants to sign a no-drinking pledge for January. What started as a small movement in 2013 has ballooned into a worldwide movement with an estimated 9 million participants in 2023. 

More than simply encouraging people to “recover” or “detox” following the holidays, Dry January is an invitation for participants to rethink their relationship with alcohol. Although many people resume drinking as normal come February, some moderate their drinking habits going forward, while others quit drinking completely.  

What Are the Benefits of Dry January?

Young black woman resting hands on knees

For years, health experts and academics have been telling us things like “a little red wine is good for the heart” and preaching the mantra of “everything in moderation.” That’s why the World Health Organization’s (WHO) January 2023 announcement about alcohol caught so many by surprise.

In a break from the usual advice, the WHO declared that there’s no safe amount of alcohol. They went on to describe alcohol as a toxic, psychoactive substance that can lead to dependence, pointing out its links to at least seven types of cancer. As surprising as it sounds, even short-term abstinence can reduce the risk of cancer progression. 

Beyond the reduced cancer risk, Dry January participants have reported the following health benefits:

  • Improved sleep quality
  • Increased energy
  • Better mood
  • Weight loss 
  • Clearer skin 
  • A reduction in liver fat, blood sugar, and blood pressure 

Less tangibly, people who participate in Dry January may feel a sense of achievement or accomplishment, a deeper connection to themselves, and a  better understanding of their relationship with alcohol. 

What’s the Connection Between Dry January and Sobriety?

While light-to-moderate drinkers may view Dry January as a way to hit the reset button or do a mild detox for the New Year, heavier drinkers might use the month for self-reflection on their drinking habits. In this way, Dry January acts as a kind of self-diagnostic tool, prompting people to think about how much they rely on alcohol and encouraging them to explore other ways of handling stress.

What makes Dry January so appealing is its voluntary and short-term commitment. It serves as an excellent starting point for individuals who’ve been considering sobriety but aren’t quite ready to fully commit. By aiming for sobriety for just one month, Dry January provides a low-pressure environment for people to test out an alcohol-free lifestyle and observe its effects — a much less intimidating approach compared to jumping into lifelong sobriety right away. 

Participating in Dry January may also help people notice the positive changes that come from stopping alcohol, such as better sleep, reduced anxiety, and less irritability. This positive feedback can inspire participants to reduce their alcohol intake or even choose complete abstinence.

Despite the undeniable benefits of Dry January, it’s important to recognize that it might not lead to long-term sobriety for everyone. Experts suggest that a minimum of three months without alcohol is necessary to truly transform one’s relationship with it. This process involves acknowledging problematic drinking patterns, navigating social situations without alcohol, and changing one’s internal dialogue about drinking.

Tips for a Successful Dry January

Regardless of your drinking habits or reasons for participating in Dry January, there are many things you can do to improve your odds of making it through the month successfully. Let’s take a look at some strategies to put in place.

  • Avoid temptations – Remove alcohol from your house, skip the drinks aisle at the supermarket, and bring non-alcoholic drinks to social events. 
  • Experiment with non-alcoholic beverages – Whether your drink of choice is beer, wine, or spirits, there’s a good chance that an alcohol-free option exists. Sample a few different brands and discover a new favorite. 
  • Form a support group – Dry January is a lot easier when you’ve got people cheering you on, or even better, participating with you. 
  • Change your routine – People tend to drink out of habit, so update your routine to avoid falling into familiar traps. For example, instead of coming home after work and drinking, try hitting the gym, running errands, or visiting a friend. 
  • Start journaling – More than simply recording your thoughts and feelings, journaling is an opportunity to explore your relationship with alcohol. Ask yourself questions like “What does alcohol give me that I’m not getting elsewhere?” or “How would my life be different without alcohol?” Use your answers as inspiration anytime you feel the urge to drink. 
  • Download an app – Apps like I Am Sober and Sobriety Counter track your non-drinking days, help you set goals, and give you insights into the amount of money you’re saving by not drinking. 
  • Don’t quit – When quitting alcohol, most people view slip-ups as outright failures, leading them to abandon their efforts altogether. Try your best to avoid this all-or-nothing mentality and don’t feel guilty about mistakes. Simply resume your non-drinking commitment the next day.

Start Your Sobriety Journey at La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center

Dry January is a great opportunity for those who drink moderately to reflect on their relationship with alcohol. However, it’s not recommended for individuals dealing with alcohol use disorder, as quitting suddenly can pose health risks. If you find yourself drinking daily, craving alcohol, or experiencing withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sweating, or shaking, seeking professional help is crucial.

La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center’s alcohol program offers a safe detox process. Following that, we provide both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs to help you start your new sober life on the right track. If you’re facing challenges with alcohol, reaching out for professional assistance can significantly improve your chances of recovery. 

Learn more by calling 888.903.9898 and speaking to one of our intake specialists today. 

Related Posts