So, the idea of a sober January has caught your attention. Whether you feel like it or not, you’re not actually alone with that sober-curious mind. In 2022 alone, over 130,000 people took part in the UK’s Dry January challenge.
The reality is that people are becoming increasingly aware of their drinking habits. Health is in, alcohol is out. Or at least it's on a steady decline. And whether you are in fact sober-curious or just eager for a challenge, here’s everything you need to know about Dry January and the benefits of taking part.
First things first: what is Dry January?
Dry January begins on the 1st of January every year. The sight of the 1st of January on your calendar might come with mixed emotions but in recent years, this has been the first day of Dry January for thousands. It’s a challenge that encourages people to go alcohol-free for a month.
People get involved to see what they can achieve, to better their health and, most crucially, to raise awareness of the fact that every hour someone dies as a result of alcohol. Too often, people tend to overlook binge drinking and alcohol abuse, but by being part of the sober-curious movement, you can help make a change. The main message isn’t about quitting drinking forever, it’s to shine a light on alcohol intake and to realise the benefits of reducing it.
Dry January has been up and running since 2013 after Emily Robinson ditched the booze back in January 2012 in preparation for a half marathon in February. A combination of huge health benefits and joining Alcohol Change for work was the catalyst for this now-popular campaign.
Alcoholchange.org says it’s not about what you’re giving up, it’s about what you’ll gain. So let’s look closer at those benefits.
People do Dry January for the benefits
No matter what your initial reason for getting involved with the campaign is, you’ll most likely walk away with an array of benefits that might just change your life.
Sounds a bit dramatic? Take a look at the physical, mental and societal benefits and decide for yourself.
You could improve your physical health
Let’s get straight to the facts. A booze-free month could:
- Lower your blood pressure
- Reduce your diabetes risk
- Lower cholesterol
- Reduces levels of cancer-related proteins in your blood
Pretty life-changing. But not only that, don’t be surprised if you lose weight, wake up with more energy or see glowing skin. Alcohol really does take its toll on the body afterall.
You could see shifts in your mental health
Alcohol takes its toll on the mind too. Let’s not forget that feeling of waking up in the morning after a few too many. For some people, even just one drink is enough to bring on brain fog, low mood and the dreaded hangxiety.
But the impact on our mental well-being isn’t isolated to a hangover, a few drinks can alter brain chemistry, causing increased anger and depression.
Going sober (or switching to alcohol-free drinks) can support your mental health, from managing your mood to getting better sleep. Did you know that 70% of Dry January participants said they slept better?
You could create societal change
Your health is wealth. There’s no denying it. But what if taking part in Dry January helped the people around you too?
It’s reported that 57% of adults drink 14 units of alcohol a week. That’s the maximum level of alcohol consumption considered ‘safe’ and is equivalent to 6 pints of beer or 6 glasses of wine.
The point is, Dry January can really make a statement. You could inspire someone to make an incredible change in their life too.
If you’re wondering whether Dry January is hard…
Dry January is a challenge. The level of difficulty depends on how much you usually drink and your relationship with the stuff.
Truthfully, it will be a long long month if you focus on your craving for a drink or FOMO. Your mindset is key. Make sure you keep reminding yourself of the benefits the 31 days will have on your mind and body.
But what if you’re really, really missing a drink?
Thanks to the shift in drinking habits, alcohol-free drinks are everywhere these days. From virgin spirits to non-alcoholic beer, you can curb the craving and stay on track.
If you're partial to a pint, let’s save you some time. The best non-alcoholic beer is UNLTD (in our humble opinion). Whether you like yours in a bottle or can, prefer larger or IPA, the UNLTD range will sort you out. It’s brewed to actually taste good plus, with 0.5% alcohol and a vegan-friendly recipe, these beers are going to be your best friends through Dry January.
Disclaimer: If you are dependent on alcohol, quitting cold turkey can be extremely dangerous for your health. If you are aware of this or notice alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you should not partake in Dry January. Speak to a health adviser for advice if you think this could be you.
You’ve completed Dry January. What’s next?
Do you revert back to old habits or do you take this fresh start and run with it? At the end of the day, it’s your choice. But if you do see yourself on the path towards healthy drinking, it might be a good idea to download the Dry January app.
The official name to type into your app store is ‘Try Dry’ and it’s great because it was co-created with drinkers, based on behavioural science and designed for cutting back or trying the sober life.
Another idea for keeping up the good habit is to incorporate alcohol-free beverages into the mix. You could alternate each round to maintain moderate drinking or you could just really enjoy them regardless. With drinks like UNLTD booze-free beers, don’t be surprised if you start to crave that kind of quality.
So why do people go sober in January? Well, it’s more than just a fresh start.
Looking at all the health benefits that come with drinking alcohol less (or ditching it altogether), it’s pretty clear that going sober in January is a stepping stone towards a healthier life. We are starting to see a shift in the role alcohol plays in our lives and Dry January is a great way to start.
So if you’re feeling the urge to get involved, go for it. You’re running out of reasons not to. Especially when you could have a fridge stocked with UNLTD alcohol-free beers.