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Embracing ‘Dry January’

We certainly hope everyone is enjoying 2020 so far. And, in what has now become a tradition, the first month of the year signifies a movement for recovery and sobriety. We are, of course, talking about Dry January, which is in full effect at the moment and getting millions to abstain from alcohol consumption.

A relatively new phenomenon, Dry January first gained momentum back in 2014 and is acknowledged as a trend coming out of Great Britain. The charity Alcohol Change UK has received the credit for first coining the term and, interestingly, during that initial year only 4,000 people participated.

Since then, the movement has gone international and counted as many as four million devotees in 2019. If you were to go on social media today, there is no doubt that you would see a flurry of #DryJanuary hashtags chronicling the sober lives of people across the world.

The website Bustle did a nice profile on the initiative, interviewing noted clinical psychologist Joshua Klapow PhD about the rise of this important trend.

“Dry January is a month where people pledge to go alcohol-free,” Dr. Klapow told the site. “”It’s a time when individuals with various drinking habits experiment with the process of not ingesting alcohol and allowing their bodies to be alcohol-free for a period of time.”

The monthlong excursion includes many health benefits as well. People who take 31 days off from alcohol tend to experience weight loss, better sleeping habits and increased productivity. And Dr. Klapow added, it also works as a gut check on just how dependent you may be.

“It’s a great time to see just how reliant you are on alcohol for social, emotional, or even simply recreational purposes,” Dr. Klapow added. “Typically, if someone can’t go a week without ingesting some form of alcohol, he says, it may be a sign of alcohol use disorder, and it may be necessary to get professional help.”

It is understandable that for many, taking on this type of challenge may be a struggle. Bustle rightly pointed out some tips for anyone going cold turkey. Pointers included avoiding bars, turning away restaurant drink menus and finding healthy new outlets (such as working out).

We too think of Dry January as an important barometer when it comes to drinking habits. If you are in the midst of the challenge and do find it difficult to maintain sobriety, we encourage you to take a moment and have a deeper conversation with a professional.