Benefits of ‘Dry January’ last longer than 31 days

KKTV 11 News this Morning
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 7:48 AM MST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 8:10 AM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A trend called “Dry January” has people avoiding alcohol for a month.

Over the past few years, the challenge has been gaining traction as a way to start the New Year with a clean slate from the substance.

“We do see a wide array of benefits from abstaining from alcohol such as improvement of physical health,” stated Stevie Madden, a PHP Therapist at Sandstone Care. “This could look like better quality sleep, better digestion, a better immune system therefore we’re not getting as sick, as well as mental health. Improved relationships, mood stability, and a significant decrease in anxiety and depression. Not to mention all the money that you’re going to be saving and therefore having money to use for meaningful things and activities.”

With all these benefits, Madden asks: Why not consider extending your sober streak later into the year?

“If you were able to get through stressors of daily life like bills, relationships, and you were able to lean on coping skills to get through them, think about what you did to get through those challenging times and use them going forward,” said Madden.

If you do return to drinking come February, do so responsibly.

“Going a month clean and then going the next month drinking the same amount, there are probably some concerns,” said Madden.

Take it slow and keep track of how much you are drinking. Set boundaries with yourself and ask why you want to drink in a social situation. Do you actually want the drink? Or is it just in front of you?

“A lot of people have fears, ‘I’m not going to be fun, I’m not as confident, I can’t engage in social activities.’ I think that because it is so socially acceptable and it’s normalized, that a lot of people aren’t understanding that there are negative consequences from their drinking and that they’re drinking way more than they were a couple of years ago,” said Madden.

Although not everyone is going to continue sobriety for the next 11 months, studies suggest people who participated in the challenge might drink less the rest of the year.

The four weeks away from the substance allows time to reflect on relationships to alcohol, why you might turn to it as a coping tool, and realize there are other options for having fun beyond the bottle.

“We are seeing a growth in other options such as sober bars, non-alcoholic drinks, and so kind of leaning on mocktails to have a way to connect and have a sober community, looking at there are ways you can still have sober fun,” explained Madden.