The holidays bring not just cold weather and presents, but often a lot of alcohol. Dry January is a popular way of giving yourself a break, but does this trend actually work?
We’re here to say it definitely does. Dry January gives you a little bit of everything on your way to a healthier diet – you have widespread social support to give you a motivational boost.
There are also plenty of creative recipes to enjoy so you don’t feel like you’re missing out. At least 35% of drinking-age adults in the United States participate in this hobby, so now’s a great time to get started!
We’ll cover the full scope of Dry January so you can increase your chances of a successfully sober thirty days. Below we’ll talk about the origin of the holiday, the types of people who benefit most, and tasty mocktail recipes!
The Origin of Dry January
Dry January is a younger tradition than it seems on the surface. This campaign originated just ten years ago from Alcohol Change UK and soon took the world by storm.
The inspiration for this health-focused campaign came from Emily Robinson, a woman inspired to cut back on drinking to support her passion for running. She later collaborated with Alcohol Concern and Alcohol Change UK to raise awareness of alcohol consumption.
Dry January has since been adopted by multiple countries as an official event.
What are the Rules of Dry January?
The rules of Dry January are as straightforward as possible – no alcohol for the entire month! Whether you live in the United States or the United Kingdom, the rules are the same.
There are many questions on cheat days or workarounds, which defeats the purpose of the event. If you’re concerned you won’t be able to do the full four weeks, we have some helpful tips further down the list.
What are the Benefits and Drawbacks?
The benefits of Dry January may seem obvious at a glance, but let’s dive in deeper. After all, this event was founded on raising awareness and improving health all at once.
Improve the Health of Your Liver
While the entire body will struggle with constant alcohol consumption, the liver is one of the areas hardest hit. Alcohol-related liver disease is one of the most common results of chronic drinking.
Your liver works hard to clear out toxins and store minerals. Taking a break gives your liver a chance to repair itself and work at its full potential.
Set a Healthy Tone for the Rest of the Year
The first month of the year can set the tone for the rest of the year. Dry January is a strong way to implement a new healthy habit as soon and early as possible.
According to recent studies, it takes an average of sixty-six days to implement a good habit.
People With Alcohol Dependency May Go Into Withdrawal
Dry January isn’t for everyone. People with alcohol dependency may actually go into life-threatening withdrawal if they abstain for a month.
How to Get Involved?
You can find Dry January groups on social media if you need a little extra motivation. These communities are hubs of like-minded people sharing their journey, posting food recipes, or encouraging others.
A few groups you can consider joining are:
- Dry January on Instagram, the official account of Alcohol Change UK
- Dry January And Beyond, a private Facebook support group that uses the event as a springboard for long-term alcohol moderation
- Dry January Community Group, another private Facebook support group that is active year-round
- r/DryJanuary, a public Reddit support group for people who could use some humor and support on their Dry January journey
Tips to Stay Sober
It’s not always easy to stay sober with so many delicious and fun alcoholic beverages at arm’s length. The tips below will allow you to have some fun while still participating.
Try Mixing Up Mocktails
The mocktail is a cocktail without any alcohol, perfect for those who don’t drink and those cutting back. Mixing up your own mocktails will give you much of the same flavor and fun as a traditional drink.
Mocktails are technically easier to make than cocktails since they eliminate one ingredient, alcohol! If you need a place to start, we have a few mocktail ideas below for you to try.
Alcohol-Free Blood Orange Mimosa
The Mimosa is one of the best known cocktails around for its elegantly simple ingredients and great taste. You can make an alcohol-free version quite easily, but we thought we’d shake things up with a blood-orange foundation.
Make sure to use pulp-free orange juice, as pulp can interfere with the texture of your fizzy drink:
- Pulp-free orange juice
- Freshly squeezed blood orange
- Seltzer water
- Fruit for garnish (strawberries or cherries)
Alcohol-Free Mulled Wine
Since Dry January is still set in one of the coldest months, why not have the best of both worlds? Mulled wine gives you the warm, cozy flavor you crave while going easy on your liver.
The appeal of mulled wine lies in its complex blend of fruity flavors and baking spices. All you have to do is toss everything in, simmer for fifteen minutes, then strain out everything but the liquid:
- Cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, or alcohol-free red wine
- Cinnamon sticks
- Star anise
To top things off, the mojito is an instantly refreshing drink that’ll get you hyped for warmer weather.
Toss these ingredients over ice with a slice of lime and a sprig of mint. You’ll wonder why you didn’t make one of these before!
- Alcohol-free rum (such as Ritual Rum)
- Soda water
- Lime juice
- Fresh lime
- Mint leaves
Use Dry January Apps
Holding yourself accountable for an entire month of no drinking is a daunting task. Dry January apps will give you a much-needed boost in the discipline department.
Try Dry was created by the Dry January organization Alcohol Change UK.
What Happens After a Month of No Alcohol?
Just one month of no alcohol will improve your health in several ways. Let’s take a look.
Improved Sleep Patterns
Alcohol is notoriously incompatible with consistent, deep sleep. While alcoholic drinks may make you feel sleepy in the moment, your REM sleep will struggle.
The science behind this lies in how your liver processes alcohol. Since your liver expends extra effort to metabolize the alcohol, your sleep pattern gets disrupted. REM sleep is closely associated with physical healing and higher levels of energy, so this is not a habit you want to repeat.
If you return to drinking alcohol again, be careful not to drink too close to bedtime. Go for lighter alcohol content and resist the urge to drink back-to-back (i.e. several days in a row).
More Stable Mood
A glass of wine may make you feel relaxed, cheerful, or flirtatious. However, you may feel moody or distracted the next day. This side-effect is a reminder that alcohol is a depressant, so expect a more stable day-to-day mood after Dry January.
Potentially Building a Long-Term Habit
Everyone has a different reason for tossing their hat into the Dry January ring. If you’re doing so to build a long-term abstention from alcohol, then you’re well on your way.
As stated above, building a long-term habit takes an average of two months. Once Dry January is over, you’re already halfway to your goal!
Not quite sure what else Dry January has to offer? We’ve got answers to frequently asked questions so you can get the full picture.
What Can You Drink in Dry January?
Plenty! Dry January is a prime opportunity to get creative about your drinking habits and look forward to more than just a buzz.
Popular alcohol alternatives you can try in Dry January are:
As explored above, mocktails give you all of the flavor and none of the alcohol. They’re versatile, easy to whip together, and will make you wonder why you didn’t try them sooner!
If you just can’t let go of the magic of popping open a wine bottle over dinner, try alcohol-free wine. Keep in mind it has to explicitly say alcohol-free – non-alcoholic wine can still have a tiny bit of alcohol left over.
Did you know alcohol-free beer is one of the fastest-growing segments of the global alcohol industry? Now has never been a better time to try some alcohol-free beer brands.
Start off with these brands offering alcohol-free line-ups:
- Athletic Brewing
- Brooklyn Brewery
Drinks don’t have to be alcoholic to be fun and bubbly! Fizzy drinks give you that satisfying tickle while keeping you on the track to less alcohol consumption.
A few tasty and healthy drink brands you can add to your closet include:
- Izze, a flavorful sugar-free sparkling juice brand that uses real juice
- Bubly, a sugar-free and calorie-free sparkling water brand with a wide range of flavors
- Spindrift, another sugar-free sparkling water brand with a splash of real juice
- Tazo Bottled Tea, a range of cold and refreshing tea blends
- Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew, a cold brew recipe infused with nitrogen gas to create a fizzy head
Are you also a fan of coffee? Cold brew gives you a smooth, classy drink to pair with breakfast or lunch. You can make this recipe at home or purchase it from any number of brands.
Try nitro cold brew if you still crave bubbles.
Can You Drink Low Alcohol in Dry January?
This gray area needs to be addressed. While Dry January focuses on absolutely no alcohol, people with alcohol dependency may need to switch to a low-alcohol method.
If you’re in that camp, remember you’re not failing by watching your own unique limits. Every step toward a healthier and more balanced diet matters!
What is the Hardest Day in Dry January?
This question will vary depending on the person, but the hardest day tends to be in the second week. This is when many people’s resolve starts to waver as the rest of the month looms ahead.
Can You Have a Cheat Day in Dry January?
If you’re able to abstain from alcohol completely, then the answer is no! Dry January is a test of your resolve to put your health first and think outside the box.
If you have an alcohol dependency, then yes. Relapses are dangerous for your health, so attempting to go completely cold turkey could be bad for you.
Do People Drink More After Dry January?
Believe it or not, no! According to a 2019 study, nearly 60% of respondents stated they drank less over the next six months after Dry January.