10 Reasons to Commit to Dry January

Are you ready to really uplevel your health in 2024?  Start the year off right and consider participating in “Dry January”- abstaining from alcohol for the first month of the year. Dry January is a great way to focus on better health and to reassess your relationship with alcohol. This trend began in 2013 and has grown every year since. Understand the risks associated with even moderate consumption and commit to Dry January. 

Benefits of Dry January

Take the month of January to abstain and reassess your relationship with alcohol. Notice the changes to your health, mood, sleep, energy, and relationships. Eliminating alcohol can have a profound impact on your life:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Allow for liver recovery
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced depression
  • Less bloat
  • Improved skin
  • Stronger immune system
  • Enhanced energy all day
  • More money in your wallet!
  • Better interpersonal relationships

Why “Dry January”? 

Statistics on Alcohol Consumption

According to the World Health Organization, “there is no safe amount of alcohol that does not impact health.” Their newly published statement (Jan. 2023) emphasizes that “Alcohol is a toxic, psychoactive substance that is addictive and labeled as a Type 1 carcinogen along with asbestos, tobacco, and radiation.” Research pertaining to the dangers of alcohol consumption is growing every year.

 In 2023, approximately 140,000 deaths occurred related to excessive use of alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol abuse is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the US. Over 14 million US adults have a disorder related to alcohol abuse and approximately 62% of people in the US drink alcohol.

Health Risks Associated with Alcohol

Long term, excessive alcohol consumption can be devastating to your health. According to the National Cancer Institute: “There is a strong scientific consensus that alcohol drinking can cause several types of cancer.” In its Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. Alcohol consumption is related to deadly cancers of the throat, mouth, breast, liver, and colon. Alcohol is labeled at a Type 1 carcinogen, the highest level.

 In addition to the cancer risk, other health conditions are also attributed to alcohol consumption:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Digestive issues
  • Gout
  • Impotence
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Weakened immune system
  • Depression and anxiety

Impact on Brain Health

Alcohol impacts the pathways in the brain, changing the makeup of the brain and how it works. Alcohol impacts cognitive function and has been proven to cause to dementia, impaired memory, and reduced executive function.

Weight Gain and Alcohol

Alcohol can also lead to weight gain with added calories that have NO nutrition and plenty of simple carbohydrates. A typical beer has 150-200 calories. Drink 3 cans for 600 wasted calories. Mixed drinks can add up quickly too with whiskey adding 120 calories per shot, not to mention the sugary addition of soda. For those trying to trim down, eliminating alcohol can be the easy solution. Alcohol consumption also leads to uninhibited eating and cravings which is most likely unhealthy items like salty and sugary snack foods.

Succeed with Dry January: Are you convinced to give it a go? Here are a few tips to help you through: 

  • Consider when you drink and analyze your cues to drink.
  • Recruit a family member or close friend to join you for the month.
  • Plan events that get you out of the routine of drinking and maybe establish new habits. Get rid of the alcohol in your house to avoid temptation.
  • Keep a daily journal with thoughts about how it feels not to drink. Include notes on how the lack of alcohol is impacting your sleep, mood, energy and weight.
  • Jot down the pluses and minuses to abstaining.

By month end you will have a great record of your progress over the month of January. This is the year to take on Dry January and change your relationship with alcohol and possibly profoundly change your LIFE!  

If you feel you need additional support, please click here to reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  You can also quickly contact SAMSA in the Well-Being section of your Rolling Strong mobile app.

By:  Christy Coughlin, Rolling Strong Wellness Coach