Dry January: A Great First Step Toward an Alcohol-Free Year

Beginning the new year with a Dry January can be a great step toward sobriety. It can also bring several immediate health benefits, like a relaxed mind and body. If you’re dependent on alcohol though, fighting a constant urge to drink, the idea of a Dry January may cause mental and physical discomfort initially. But it’s worth considering — and trying — if you really want to break this habit and be alcohol-free.
If you’re looking for a fresh start in the new year, with alcohol cessation tips and support, you can learn to resist the urge to drink and make Dry January a successful effort.

Why Dry January Is a Great Step Toward Sobriety

Launched by the British charity Alcohol Change UK in 2012, Dry January is a one-month alcohol-free challenge that’s grown in popularity over the years. More than 6.5 million people were expected to participate in 2021 (compared to roughly 3.9 million in 2020), so you might wonder what the benefits of this initiative are. Here’s how Dry January can be beneficial to people with alcohol dependency, especially those looking to quit.

Liver Relief

Someone who drinks excessively and has been doing so for a long time may have cirrhosis of the liver, a medical condition that develops over time. Participating in an addiction treatment initiative like Dry January can reduce liver fat by 15% to 20%. This break gives the liver a chance to better metabolize fat and other excess hormones in the body.

Reduced Risk of Diseases

Around 95,000 people — roughly 68,000 men and 27,000 women — die from alcohol-related causes in the United States every year. These deaths are mostly attributed to alcohol-associated liver disease, heart disease and stroke, cirrhosis of the liver, and cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract and liver, among other medical conditions. Learning to control the urge to drink by taking part in initiatives like Dry January can help lower the risk of these diseases.

Improved Sleep and Energy

Excessive drinking tends to impair sleeping patterns, which can lower your energy levels and productivity. By challenging you to resist the urge to drink for 31 days, Dry January gives your body a chance to restore its natural sleep cycle and rhythms.

Weight Loss

Alcohol contributes to caloric intake, not only because of the calories you are drinking, but also the increased craving to snack when drinking. This can lead you to make impulsive food choices, which causes weight gain. When you cut back on alcohol, you’ll notice that it reduces stomach fat and improves general body composition.

Alcohol Cessation Tips and Support for a Successful Dry January

Alcohol addiction treatment can be tough when you go at it alone. Here are some alcohol cessation tips and supportive insights to help you make the most of Dry January.

Don’t Go It Alone

Tell close family members and friends about your alcohol-free plans for Dry January and ask for their support throughout the month, checking in with you to make sure you stay on track. Families and friends can be a great source of encouragement and support during the 31-day, Dry January challenge.
You might also want to consider teaming up with someone who’s also looking to quit to tackle the challenge together, keeping tabs on one another to make sure you’re both successful.
Another option is joining an addiction treatment support group for people with alcohol dependency during Dry January to start the new year right. Core Recovery, for instance, can provide you with group therapy, individual counseling, and trauma therapy that can help you feel better and stick to addiction treatment goals. Core also offers a Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT) Program, which uses approved medications to assist with detox and cravings for patients who are interested in adding this to their therapy.

Engage in Old and New Activities

If you’re looking to use the Dry January challenge as a step toward change, you should consider focusing on old hobbies or finding new ones that can fully shift your mind away from drinking.
Learning a skill that’s always caught your attention, visiting a new restaurant, or cooking yourself a nice meal daily are just a few things you can try. You can also take short day trips or a walk around the neighborhood every morning or evening. While you’re at it, listen to an audiobook or music to ease your anxiety. Also, consider incorporating exercise and meditation into your daily routine — this will keep you feeling strong and healthy with an improved ability to focus.

Whatever activities you decide to take up, make sure to nurture these new habits so they can replace drinking and remain enjoyable beyond January.

Avoid Triggers

Make it a point to avoid places, people, or activities that generally trigger your urge to drink. This may involve making some changes to your social life, like finding new things you can do with your drinking buddies (or staying away from them altogether). Also, consider clearing out any cans or bottles of liquor, replacing them with healthier options, including sports drinks — and especially — water.

Seek Medical Assistance

People with alcohol dependency who want to make the Dry January challenge their first step toward sobriety may need a bit more help than others. While families and friends can provide the emotional support needed to deal with excessive alcohol intake, medically trained professionals can give you appropriate management tips and any medication you might need to help you through recovery.
At Core Recovery, for instance, you’ll receive an individual assessment and work with dedicated team members who will help you through your recovery challenges without any form of judgment. Also, addiction treatment is now possible on an outpatient basis, so you won’t need to stay in an inpatient setting. You can detox at home and only need to visit Core Recovery on an outpatient basis.

Motivate Yourself

Think about why you’re joining the Dry January challenge and how you’ll feel when you succeed at it. Jot down your reasons and put that paper where you can see it daily. If the going gets tough, your reasons and goals for being alcohol-free will keep you going.
Be prepared for slips, though. Having a drink doesn’t mean you’ve failed, so don’t beat yourself up if that happens. Instead, think about the triggers and what you can do to avoid them the next time you feel the urge to drink. You can also reach out to a trusted friend or team like Core Recovery to support you in a nonjudgmental way.

Get the Support You Need

If you’re dependent on alcohol and are finding the urge to drink difficult to resist, you might experience emotional or physical discomfort at the idea of using Dry January to quit. But facing this challenge as a step toward sobriety is worth considering.
At Core Recovery, we’re ready to help you tackle the Dry January challenge and make it your first step toward a healthy lifestyle. Our outpatient addiction and mental health, and trauma recovery treatment center offers intensive programs that allow our patients to spend their nights at home while treating their illnesses on an outpatient basis. Our medically-trained professionals will support you and communicate with you every step of the way, helping you through your unique needs and recovery goals.

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Core Recovery is a Professionally Certified Mental Health Practice in North Phoenix.