NEWS Mental Health News The End of the Resolution Guide The End of the Resolution Guide Slow Living Why Resolutions Exist Why Resolutions Fail Dry January Food and Mental Health Mental Benefits of Physical Exercise Rest for Resistance Dry January: The Benefits of a Month Without Alcohol By Taneasha White Updated on January 03, 2023 Fact checked Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Sean Blackburn Fact checked by Sean Blackburn LinkedIn Sean is a fact-checker and researcher with experience in sociology, field research, and data analytics. Learn about our editorial process Share Tweet Email Print Maskot / Getty Images Key Takeaways "Dry January" is the exercise of abstaining from alcohol for the entirety of the first month of the year.People who do not have an alcohol use disorder, but have noticed an increase in drinking habits over the past year, could benefit from the practice. For many, drinking during the holiday season is commonplace. Social drinking is widely accepted and is seen as a way to lighten the mood and bring folks together. Unfortunately, throughout the past couple of years, we have seen dramatic increases in alcohol consumption, largely due to the stressful situations prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Amy Morin, LCSW, the editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind says, “Alcohol sales have skyrocketed as people have felt increasingly stressed. And during this stressful time, many go-to coping strategies were taken away—such as going to the gym or having lunch with friends. Therefore, a lot of people have turned to alcohol as a way to handle their distress. But problem drinking is likely to make things worse.” The holidays are a complex time of the year for many independent of the pandemic, We may wonder whether alcohol consumption during this time should be examined a little closer. Many feel increased stress during the holidays every year due to familial situations, the anxiety of hosting gatherings, or the premature loss of loved ones. However, not everyone fits into the category of needing to step back from drinking. If you are unsure, consider the following questions to determine if your relationship with alcohol could use some reconfiguring. If the answer is 'yes' to any of these, consider an exercise this month: Dry January. Are you using alcohol as a tool to cope with stressful situations?Do you find yourself stressed without it?How many drinks per week are you having? What about per day?Has your drinking impacted your personal relationships or your professional life? Press Play for Advice On Addiction Recovery Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring actor Richie Stephens, shares how to recover from alcohol addiction, manage cravings, and determine if AA is right for you. Click below to listen now. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts / Amazon Music What Is Dry January? How Can It Be Helpful? A consideration for those interested in changing their routine is trying a “Dry January.” This is an exercise in abstaining from alcohol for the entirety of the first month of the year. Undoubtedly, this task will prove to be easier for some than others. The hope is that regardless of whether you choose to continue to abstain, the month will be educational and illuminating for everyone who participates. Morin says, "Taking a month off from drinking could help you step back and examine your relationship with alcohol. You might learn you depend on it to manage stress or feel comfortable in social situations. Or you might discover you feel better and think more clearly when not drinking." Amy Morin, LCSW Taking a month off from drinking could help you step back and examine your relationship with alcohol. You might learn you depend on it to manage stress or feel comfortable in social situations. Or you might discover you feel better and think more clearly when not drinking. — Amy Morin, LCSW In addition to more clarity around navigating social situations, there are other potential health benefits to cutting back on your alcohol intake, ranging from skin benefits to improved sleep cycles. Hillary Sheinbaum, journalist and author of "The Dry Challenge," says, "Even if you're giving up alcohol for just one month, you're bound to see positive benefits such as clearer skin, improved sleep, weight loss, more money in your wallet, and more energy—among other pluses... Alcohol is a diuretic, so it's going to dry out your skin and create the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles." Sheinbaum continues, "When we drink, alcohol has a sedative effect on the body initially, which can make you drowsy, but the metabolism of it actually causes awakenings and fragmented sleep." For those with health or diet concerns or who are interested in limiting daily calories to nutrient-rich foods, this exercise could be beneficial. Because of the lack of vitamins and minerals in most alcoholic drinks, Dry January is a potential way to cut some of those calories. "Alcohol and alcoholic drinks are also full of empty calories, meaning when you aren't drinking them, you're going to consume fewer calories which can lead to weight loss," says Sheinbaum. COVID Lockdowns Have Side Effect of Increased Binge Drinking, Study Shows How to Try Dry January According to Sheinbaum, cutting out alcohol for a month can prove difficult. These suggestions may help you get started and set yourself up for success. Create an environment where you're going to succeed. Put away your stash of booze—either hide it, give it to a friend to hold on to, or pour it down the drain. Out of sight, out of mind!Recruit a friend to do the challenge with you. Not only will you support each other—and have the opportunity to vent to each other—but you can also plan nonalcoholic activities together.Schedule a calendar of things you love to do that don't involve alcohol. That might mean cooking, working out, learning a new instrument—whatever brings you happiness! This will not only occupy your time, but you'll have plenty to look forward to during your dry month. Hillary Sheinbaum When we drink, alcohol has a sedative effect on the body initially, which can make you drowsy, but the metabolism of it actually causes awakenings and fragmented sleep. — Hillary Sheinbaum How to Maintain a Social Life When You’re Quitting Drinking Safety Considerations For those who have identified heavy drinking as an issue, cutting out your alcohol consumption all at once may not be the best route. “For someone who drinks heavily, giving up alcohol cold turkey might not be safe," says Morin. "People who consume alcohol regularly might experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop abruptly, and for some individuals, that could be dangerous. Heavy drinkers may experience seizures and serious side effects if they stop drinking without seeing a physician first,” says Morin. What This Means For You There are many ways to decompress after a stressful event. While there is no shame in partaking in social and safe alcohol consumption, there are opportunities to reexamine your relationship with substances without shame. For many, drinking may have become a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, the past couple of years have been extremely stressful, and the national averages for alcohol purchases and consumption have gone up dramatically.If you have found yourself drinking more than normal, you are definitely not alone. Consider discussing this exercise with your friends and other members of your support system, and consult with a healthcare provider if you are concerned about any potential health implications. What to Do If Dry January Didn’t Work for You The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page. What's Really Driving You to Drink? 1 Source Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Pollard MS, Tucker JS, Green HD Jr. Changes in adult alcohol use and consequences during the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(9):e2022942. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.22942 See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.