5 tips to finish up Dry January
Don’t drink alcohol for an entire month.
It’s a simple premise, but following the festive holiday season, Dry January is a popular New Year’s resolution that helps many people create healthier habits.
Dry January is relatively new. It began in 2014 as a public health campaign in the United Kingdom. But in just a couple of years, this teetotaling trend has produced real results.
A recent British study suggested that after one month sober during Dry January, participants go on to drink fewer days per week, drink less and get drunk fewer times per month. They also had a greater sense of accomplishment, saved money and felt healthier than before the challenge. Even those that merely cut back on drinking continue to drink less in the months ahead.
Alcohol-related deaths have doubled
If stopping or slowing down for a month sounds difficult, new sobering statistics might make you pause before pouring that next drink. Over the last 20 years, alcohol-related deaths in America have doubled, new research shows. From 1999 to 2017, the death rate has spiked 50% in the U.S., claiming nearly 1 million lives in that time.
About half of the deaths came from liver disease, overconsumption or mixing alcohol with drugs. But researchers think that alcohol plays a role in many more deaths than that.
Americans are drinking more now than they have in over 100 years, since just before Prohibition. Alcohol‐related emergency department visits and hospitalizations also on the rise, which is indicative the larger trend in America’s drinking culture.
“Some people like strong drinks. Others like light beer, sweet cocktails and seltzers that are easy to consume in large amounts. Overindulging on either of these options has lasting effects on your health,” says Dr. Kayla Parsons, family medicine provider with Aurora Health Care.
Tips to get through Dry January
Dry January has unbottled what we’ve already known. Quitting drinking or cutting back on alcohol can lead to significant health benefits. Combined with diet and exercise, it’s a good way to create a path to healthiness while still enjoying spirits responsibly or not at all.
Dr. Parsons recommends these tips:
- Look at your drinking habits and take note of how you feel physically and mentally
- Create a plan to cut back or eliminate alcohol and stick to it
- Resist peer pressure to drink
- Try some “mocktails” and other non-alcoholic drinks
- Watch your diet and cut out things that make you want to drink alcohol
- Exercise or try a new workout regimen
“It’s clear that Dry January has real benefits. Taking just a month off from drinking alcohol in January – or any month – can have a major health benefits for years to come,” says Dr. Parsons.
About the Author
Matt Queen, health enews contributor, is a communication coordinator at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee. He is a former TV sports anchor and journalist with extensive public relations experience across the health care spectrum. Outside of work, Matt enjoys watching sports (of course), cooking, gardening, golfing and spending time with his wife and two young children.