A new year means a brand new you, right? That tagline sounds great at first when you’re excited about your new year’s resolution to cut down on alcohol. After all, it’s easy to daydream about the incredibly healthy and productive year you could have!
That is, until reality sets in.
Living a healthier lifestyle without alcohol can take time and energy. And research shows that it can take up to 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic and almost a full year for you to actually solidify a new habit. Fortunately, Dry January can be that extra push you need to get started.
What is Dry January?
Dry January has become an annual challenge where people choose to go the entire first month of the year without drinking alcohol. For some, it’s an informal “detox” after drinking too much during the holiday season. But for others, it’s an opportunity to start the new year off on the right foot, especially if they have concerns about their current drinking habits.
No matter what the reason may be, the “Dry January” challenge found success in the UK and has now made its way to the United States thanks to its many health benefits and potential long-term results.
In fact, research conducted at the end of 2018 at the University of Sussex found that participants in a Dry January study were still drinking less more than six months later.
“The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long-term,” Dr. Richard de Visser said when speaking about his research. “By August, people are reporting one extra dry day per week. There are also considerable immediate benefits: nine in 10 people save money, seven in 10 sleep better and three in five lose weight.”
6 Benefits of Dry January
It’s no secret that avoiding alcohol is better for your overall health. But just knowing that doesn’t really pump you up the same way a challenge or competition does. Dry January has become such a fad because you can actually see improvements within a specific time frame.
As you start your own Dry January challenge, keep a journal of your progress and see if you experience the following health benefits:
- You May Get Better Sleep. No matter how you look at it, alcohol use ruins your quality of sleep. Drinking may help you relax and nod off, but you’ll wake up once those chemicals wear off. Drinking too much also leaves you feeling groggy and lethargic the next day. When you don’t drink, your body is able to return to normal, healthy sleep patterns that will leave you refreshed and energized.
- You May Lose Weight. Alcohol adds useless calories to your diet that make you gain weight you definitely don’t want. By cutting alcohol out of your daily or weekly routine for a month, you may see yourself losing some of those extra pounds. However, it’s important to note that the amount of weight you lose greatly depends on your starting weight and how much you drink.
- You’ll Save Money. Alcohol certainly isn’t cheap. And if you’re abusing alcohol, you may be spending $4,500 or more a year on alcohol. That’s money you can put towards savings, a mortgage or a new car. During Dry January, keep track of your expenses and budget. You may very well find that you have more money now that you’re not drinking!
- You’ll Be Able to Concentrate and Focus More. Alcohol use and hangovers can negatively impact your memory, reaction time, concentration and ability to pay attention. By participating in Dry January, you may see your work or school performance improve now that it’s no longer inhibited by your drinking.
- You Can Identify Underlying Causes of Your Drinking. In many cases, drinking is used to try to cope with mental health challenges like depression or anxiety. But over time, drinking actually makes these conditions worse. By taking a break from drinking, your mood may improve, and you’ll have a clearer head to evaluate why you were drinking in the first place. This can give you the chance you need to ask for help if you’re struggling with depression or anxiety.
- You May Lose the Interest to Drink Beyond January. Just as the University of Sussex study found, abstaining from drinking in January may actually lower your interest in drinking altogether and help you gain better control of your alcohol use. This puts you in a greater position to turn Dry January into a positive, long-term habit that helps you maintain the healthier lifestyle you want.
When to Seek Help for Alcohol Addiction
Dry January can help lower your alcohol intake, but it shouldn’t be looked at as a cure if you’re struggling with alcohol abuse. You also shouldn’t try to quit drinking by yourself if you’re suffering from an alcohol addiction, as withdrawal can be dangerous if not carefully managed by professionals.
If you can’t complete Dry January because of withdrawal symptoms or if you immediately go back to drinking after the month-long challenge is over, it may be time for you to seek addiction treatment. At The Raleigh House, we can help you successfully complete detox and guide you through residential and outpatient treatment so that you can overcome alcoholism and find lasting recovery.
Start Your Dry January at The Raleigh House
Not being able to complete a Dry January challenge on your own doesn’t mean you’ve failed. All it means is that you need some extra support and care to help you overcome your alcohol addiction. With over 10 years of experience in the addiction and recovery field, we provide evidence-based and holistic treatment that can help heal your mind, body and spirit from alcoholism.
To get started, fill out our form or contact us now to get in touch with one of our friendly admissions team members.