Dry January: The History and its benefits
In 2013, Alcohol Change UK initiated Dry January with 4,000 participants. Over the past decade, the event has grown significantly. In 2022 alone, 130,000 people participated. This year is expected to be even more successful with Dry January celebrating its 10th year.
Whether you are sober curious, have overindulged over Christmas, or want to feel the benefits of being alcohol-free for a month, now is the time to jump on board.
How Dry January started
In January 2012, Emily Robinson joined Alcohol Change UK after opting to abstain from alcohol for the month. The previous year, Emily had registered for a half marathon set to take place in February 2011. As part of her preparation, she chose to abstain from alcohol for the entirety of January.
Emily discovered that many people were inquisitive regarding the advantages of her stopping alcohol for one month. By working for Alcohol Change UK, Emily was provided with a platform to openly communicate to a broad audience about the benefits of abstaining from drinking. From this, the concept of Dry January was born
In 2013, Alastair Campbell and columnist Peter Oborne initiated the first Dry January by discussing their respective histories with alcohol consumption and deciding to take a month off from drinking. This sparked a debate regarding the potential benefits of abstaining from alcohol for an extended period of time. To further research this, Dr Richard De Visser from the University of Sussex offered to survey participants who had chosen to take part in Dry January in order to determine any lasting effects.
Dr De Visser discovered that six months after the campaign had concluded, 70% of people continued to consume alcohol in a manner that was less hazardous than before. Additionally, approximately 25% of those who had been engaging in "harmful" drinking prior to the campaign had moved into the low-risk category. Without even looking at the real-time benefits, Dry January was impacting in a big way by reducing harmful levels of drinking among those who took part.
The benefits of giving up alcohol for one month
Aside from less hazardous drinking in the months following Dry January, there are some instant benefits that can be felt both bodily and mentally.
The physical benefits of one month sober:
- Better sleep
- Skin improves
- Weight loss
- Increased energy
- Lower cholesterol
- Improved blood pressure
- More stabilised blood sugar levels
- Improved liver health
- No hangovers
The mental benefits of one month sober:
- Improved mood
- Increased productivity
- Better motivation
- Clarity of mind
- Sense of accomplishment
- Increased focus and cognition
- Memory improvement
- Learn to face and overcome challenges sober
Dry January is an initiative that is designed to challenge and change people's drinking habits for the better. The hope is that some who are considered high-risk drinkers and heavy drinkers will decide to stay on the wagon after the one-month sober is over.
Who benefits from Dry January?
Because of the benefits of giving up alcohol for one month, it is safe to say that anyone can benefit from taking part. However, being alcohol-free for one month will benefit those who have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol the most.
Taking time away from alcohol forces you to look at your relationship with it. Is it easy for you to abstain or not? Do you rely on alcohol to help you navigate social situations or do you drink it out of habit?
There are of course some people who should not attempt Dry January without medical help. If you suspect you have an alcohol dependence but want to use Dry January to motivate you to stop, it is essential that you speak to your doctor or local drug and alcohol team first. They can help you to plan a way of safely stopping and will discuss your options with you.
You can discover local sources of support within our Hope of Hope
If you experience any of the following alcohol withdrawal symptoms after an extended period of drinking, do not stop suddenly. Alcohol dependence is a serious medical condition that needs to be managed to avoid life-threatening symptoms.
Signs of alcohol dependence include:
- Increased sweating
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there)
- Uncontrollable anxiety and racing thoughts
- Strong alcohol cravings
If you are alcohol dependent or have an alcohol use disorder, don't let this deter you from trying. Stopping alcohol, even if it is just for one month, will benefit you more than you can possibly imagine. It just means that you will need to plan it more carefully and ensure you have the right help and support in place.
Many people have used Dry January as a chance to change their lives for the better and have succeeded.
Tools and support to help with Dry January
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Dry January. In light of recent tumultuous events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, wars and the cost of living crisis, a larger number of people are expected to join the campaign than ever before. Fortunately, there are numerous sources of support and tools available for those who wish to participate but may be concerned about how they will cope.
Recoverlution provides a secure environment to investigate sobriety, gain knowledge about addictive disorders and connect with like-minded others. Signing up for our free online recovery community will give you immediate access to free online recovery tools. Additionally, you can join groups on our platform which hosts regular Zoom meetings related to recovery.
Having access to a community of people who have abstained from alcohol or are striving to do so offers 24/7 support. If you desire to transform your life for the better and develop new techniques for managing emotions and enhancing emotional and physical health, our Wellness hub provides prompt assistance and support from experts.
New year - new you
Post-Christmas, many make resolutions to change their lives for the better and many fall short. When it comes to quitting alcohol, the right help and support needs to already be in place. This way you can instantly connect with others should you be tempted.
It is also important to tell those around you that you are attempting Dry January so that they can offer support too. This will hopefully stop any awkward questions. As previously stated, many people participate in Dry January for all sorts of reasons. You can also learn some helpful ways to say no to alcohol if someone does offer it to you.
If alcohol is holding you back and creating difficulties in your life, now is the ideal time to stop and obtain the necessary help to accomplish this.