Dry January 2023: Health benefits, tips for a sober month

Experts say that stopping drinking can help your body and mind.

Thinking of giving up alcohol in the new year – at least for a month? Stopping drinking can be good for the body, and the stressful, intoxicating holiday season makes many people want to cut back.

That’s where Dry January comes in.

If the popular sanity challenge is popping up on your social media feeds more than ever, you’re not alone. In 2022, 19% of adults 21 and older polled by Morning Consult say they are participating in a dry January — a 6% increase from the previous year.

So what’s behind all the buzz? Experts say there is strong evidence that stopping drinking can help your body and mind.

What is dry January?

While social media groups and even apps have popped up around the challenge, its premise is pretty simple. To participate in the dry January, you decide not to drink alcohol for an entire month.

“Being without alcohol for 31 days shows us that we don’t need alcohol to have fun, relax or socialize,” says Alcohol Change UK, which founded Dry January in 2013. “It helps us learn the skills we need to manage our drinking.”

While some participants signed up to raise funds with the challenge, many others are hoping to improve their health – physically, mentally and financially.

Why make a dry month?

Dr Aaron White, senior scientific adviser to the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said: “It’s healthy to take a step back, look at our drinking habits, look at the impact alcohol has on our lives.”

Participants can use the time to think about why they drink and whether they are satisfied with the role alcohol plays in their lives. Additionally, they can practice ways to socialize, have fun, and deal with stress that aren’t related to drinking — habits that will continue to be helpful after the ordeal is over.

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Dry January participants often self-reported positive changes to their drinking habits. A University of Sussex study of more than 800 Britons found that six months after the 2018 challenge, 80% said they felt better in control of their drinking. A little more said they think more deeply about their relationship with alcohol and most – 93% – feel accomplished.

Stopping drinking is also good for your body. In that study, 71% said they slept better and 67% said they had more energy. The narrower majority (58% and 54% respectively) said they lost weight and had better skin.

Other benefits are not just deep effects on the skin. In a smaller study, researchers recruited 94 men and women who had quit drinking for a month, comparing them to a control group of 47 other people who continued to drink. The results for the “dry” group were promising – their blood pressure dropped, they lost weight, and the researchers noted improved insulin sensitivity and a reduction in cancer-related growth factors.

Dr Sarah Andrews, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, said: “It has been proven that if people are experiencing physical effects from alcohol use, whether it is blood If you have high blood pressure or affect your liver, abstaining from alcohol for a month may help reduce some of those risks.” at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Is dry January for me?

Sobriety challenges can be helpful for light or moderate drinkers who want to think more deeply about the role alcohol plays in their lives.

However, dry January is not for everyone. Heavy drinkers, who can experience dangerous or even fatal alcohol withdrawal symptoms, may need professional help to safely stop drinking.

There are a few other caveats to keep in mind. Some people who quit drinking find themselves drinking too much – just like what can happen after you complete a strict diet.

“If we are deprived of something for a while, then once we have access to it, we tend to abuse it,” says White. “It could be ditching the diet and eating a lot of calories. With alcohol, it could be celebrating the achievement of a dry January by getting really drunk.”

It’s something to avoid, for standard health reasons, and because your tolerance for alcohol will decrease after a month of not drinking.

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Many participants said the dry January helped them drink less, and the sober period could have some serious health benefits. But to get the most out of the challenge, experts say you should think about why and how you drink.

“Our hope is that this month isn’t just a time to rest for your liver to heal, but it’s a real opportunity to change the way you see the role this drug plays in your life,” White said. and you continue to drink consciously.”

For example, someone who drinks to relax after a hard day may find that they can also de-stress with a good book or a quick exercise session. Another person who drinks to have fun and socialize can still have a good time with a non-alcoholic beverage.

The dry January is not just a challenge. It can be an opportunity to try new activities and have fun while sober.

“There’s still a lot of exciting things to discover in the world,” said Dr. Thomas Kash, professor at the University of North Carolina’s Bowles Wine Research Center. “You don’t need alcohol to have a good time. And I think that’s important to understand.”

https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/dry-january-2023-benefits-tips/507-8c5e68bb-aedf-4958-872a-44a959890efc Dry January 2023: Health benefits, tips for a sober month

Edmund DeMarche

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