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11 Tips for Succeeding at Dry January

by Carrie Borzillo - January 10 , 2022

Photo Credit: by Isaiah Rustad,
Photo Credit: by Isaiah Rustad,

Winter is hard on our will power and health goals. The holiday season is overflowing with parties, comfort foods, sweets, and alcohol that leaves us with a collective hangover come January. This is why Alcohol Change U.K. started the Dry January initiative in 2012, which became a worldwide movement where people give up alcohol for the month of January.

For some, Dry January is a way to reset yourself back to healthier ways, while for others it’s a good time to quit drinking alcohol altogether. It’s particularly popular this year as adult alcohol consumption had amped up during the Covid-19 pandemic. A Nielsen study showed a 54% increase in U.S. alcohol sales, comparing March 2020 to March 2019. According to the U.S. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, sales of hard liquor in particular increased approximately 11% in all states in a study between the months of March and June 2020 compared to prior years.

Sure, we’re a week or so into January but it’s not too late to give Dry January a try. Or, if you like to do things neat and tidy, then use these tips to start Dry February! Here are some tips (and one yummy recipe) on how to make it through Dry January…

Set Your Intention: Decide if your goal is to just cut out alcohol for a month or to stop drinking forever. Set your goal and be clear on why you made this resolution. “The research we have on goal setting says goals are more likely to be achieved if they're really relevant to you as an individual and not abstract like 'I should stop drinking because drinking is bad,’,” Dr. Sarah Wakeman, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told CNN Health recently.

Find a Non-Drinking Buddy: Sure, you can do this alone. But it’s much easier, and more effective, to team up with your significant other, roommate, or best friend to be your accountability partner. If you can’t find a friend to partner up with, you can find an online support group.

Clean House: To avoid temptation, remove all alcohol from your home. If you plan to quit permanently, you can always donate your booze to a friend. If this is just for one month, then consider storing your alcohol in a garage, basement, or closet, or ask a friend to house it for you until you’re ready to take it back.

Stock Up: Stock up on your favorite healthy non-alcoholic beverages that bring you joy. This could be flavored sparkling waters, fine tea, kombucha, and other green drinks — the kind that might be pricey, so you don’t buy them that often. With the money you save on not drinking alcohol for a month, the price of a $10 green drink at your favorite local juice shop isn’t so bad.

Go Mock: The good news about alcohol consumption going up greatly in the past two years is that many new beverage companies have popped up offering way more than just the usual non-alcoholic beer and wine. For instance, Ritual Zero Proof offers tequila, gin, whiskey, and rum, alternatives, while Mocktail Club has a line of fully mixed mocktails, such as the Capri Sour and Bombay Fire.

Try a Dry App: Get some digital help. There are several new apps for iPhones or Androids to help you quit, or cut down on drinking, such as Try Dry, I Am Sober, and Sober Grid.

Avoid Triggers: With the Omicron variant on the rise, it’s easier to stay home right now. But if you do go out, try to avoid bars, parties, and friends who don’t support your efforts.

Find a New Hobby: If drinking is sort of a hobby for you and a regular part of your social calendar (i.e., Sunday brunches, Happy Hours, wine tastings, pub crawls, etc.), it’s time to find a new hobby. A healthier way to get “buzzed” is to explore the great outdoors more. Try hiking, biking, rock climbing to fill up your days this month. Replacing the bar with a park is also a great way to get more Vitamin D in your system this winter.

Tune Into Your Feelings: Genesis Recovery in San Diego, California suggests journaling through your Dry January experience to reflect on how you feel without alcohol. They say, “Journaling is a wonderful way to document one’s feelings and progress as the new year unfolds. Topics to journal about may surface around one’s current relationship with alcohol, and participants can have the ability to reflect on questions such as: When was the first time one became aware of one’s enjoyment or need for alcohol? When was the first time one drank? How does alcohol benefit oneself? How does alcohol harm oneself? How difficult is it for one to go without a drink in familiar settings? Unfamiliar setting? How did one get to this alcohol-free place in your life?”

Listen to Your Body: If going cold turkey leaves you feeling ill or depressed, it could mean you are suffering from alcohol withdrawal. Mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include nausea, vomiting, sweating, insomnia, headaches, shaky hands, and/or anxiety or depression. More serious symptoms can include hallucinations, seizures, and/or delirium tremens (known as the DTs), which can include hallucinations and delusions. If you are a heavy drinker when you start Dry January, it’s best to consult your doctor before going cold turkey. Subsequently, if you do experience any of the serious symptoms after quitting alcohol, call your doctor.

Be Kind to Yourself: Don’t give up or feel guilty if you slip. Slip-ups happen. “It is important to not let a slip up ruin one’s entire month of sobriety. For example, if one gave in to the peer pressure of the social scene and took a shot of tequila with the group, accept one’s reality and make the commitment to not do it again. Craving alcohol is a chemical response if one has a history with it, and thus one should not let giving into one temptation ruin an entire sobriety journey. The key to a successful Dry January is to change the way one thinks about being sober, a change in mindset is necessary. Rather than feeling deprived and having FOMO, it helps to consider all the gains of participating in Dry January,” according to Genesis Recovery.

Mock Margarita Recipe offers up a variety of alcohol-free versions of your favorite cocktails, such as this Frozen Apple Margarita…

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

● 1 cup sparkling apple cider

● Sliced green apples

● 2 tablespoons lime juice

● 2 teaspoons finely grated lime rind

● Lime zest

● 4 cups ice cubes

● Coarse salt


Step 1: Place the salt on a plate, run the side of your margarita glass with lime, and dip the glass’ edge into the salt.

Step 2: Blend the apple juice, lime juice, lime rind, and ice in the blender until smooth.

Step 3: Garnish the drink with apple slices and lime zest.


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