Substance Use

Dry January: How Does It Work?

dry january sign upside down wine glass bottle

Table of Contents

Get Help Now

check insurance
Check your insurance by using our Online Form
call us
Talk to someone now.
Call (855) 430-9439

What Are the Rules for Dry January?

Dry January is a month-long challenge to abstain from drinking alcohol. It was first initiated in 2013 by Alcohol Change UK, and participants committed to taking the whole month off from alcohol consumption. The challenge has become increasingly popular due to its ability to create positive changes. People also add it as a part of their New Year’s resolutions.

The rules for participating in the Dry January challenge are simple: go alcohol-free for the entire month, starting with the new year. Many Dry January participants take part to reset their relationship with alcohol and establish a healthier lifestyle.

It can also help reduce the amount of money spent on alcohol each month. Alcohol misuse costs the United States about $249 billion per year (1). More than 11% of American individuals older than the age of 18 had Alcohol Use Disorder in the year 2022 (2) (3). 

A lot of people struggle with their alcohol intake. Fortunately, Zinnia Health is here to help. If you’re seeking support, remember our alcohol hotline is available 24 hours per day. Contact us today at (855) 430-9439 to get assistance in finding a treatment facility near you.

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us

What Are the Benefits of Dry January?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), excessive drinking habits can cause a multitude of health issues and are one of the most serious public health concerns afflicting America today.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that consuming alcoholic beverages can be an issue if it has adverse effects on your:

  • Relationships
  • Academic performance
  • Social life
  • Overall well-being

When considering the benefits of participating in Dry January, it is important to understand that abstaining from alcohol can have both physical and mental health benefits. 

1. What Happens to Your Body When You Do Dry January?

Physically, abstaining from alcohol can provide better sleep, digestion, and liver health. 

Additionally, when you do Dry January, it can help:

  • Reduce your calorie intake
  • Contribute to weight loss efforts (4)
  • Give your body a break from the toxins found in alcohol
  • Improve circulation, metabolism, and fluid balance
  • Increase energy levels

2. What Happens to Your Mind When You Do Dry January?

Mentally, participating in Dry January can have a positive impact on your overall well-being because it will help:

  • Improve mental clarity and increase focus
  • Reduce anxiety and stress levels by promoting better control over emotions
  • Give you more energy to focus on other activities that benefit your health such as workouts or spending time with friends and family (5)

What Are the Risks of Drinking That Dry January Is Designed to Address?

The risks of excessive alcohol use, heavy drinking, and binge drinking include (6):

  • Liver disease
  • Cancer, including breast, mouth, or throat cancer
  • Depression and anxiety
  • An impaired immune system and general health
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor nutrition
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as dry mouth

Women are more susceptible to the long-term adverse health effects of alcohol compared with men. (7)

How To Prepare for a Successful Dry January

Committing to Dry January is no easy feat, and it requires proper planning. Here are some tips to ensure that you come out of the month feeling positive and successful:

  • Set realistic expectations — don’t expect to get rid of cravings for alcohol overnight
  • Create an action plan — find activities so you can stop drinking, such as exercising or attending social events
  • Find support — having a network of friends and family can help provide motivation during the challenge
  • Track progress — keep track of your progress by writing down your accomplishments and achievements each day
  • Nonalcoholic drinks — ifyou are a heavy drinker, then switching to mocktails and nonalcoholic drinks can help you with your goals.

No matter the reason for participating in Dry January, it is a great way to reset and positively change your health and lifestyle. With the correct preparation and support system, you will surely have an enjoyable month that will bring about long-term benefits.

At Zinnia Health, we understand the challenges of overcoming addiction and are committed to providing our clients with the resources they need to heal and move forward in a positive direction. Our helpline is available 24/7, and by calling (855) 430-9439, you can connect with a trained counselor who can help you find a treatment facility near you. 

What Are the Downsides of Dry January?

Although Dry January can be a positive experience for many people, it is important to be aware of the potential downsides of a dry month. Abstaining may trigger underlying issues, such as depression or anxiety, in those suffering from alcohol use disorder.

Additionally, if you find yourself overindulging in other forms of unhealthy behavior, such as overeating, it is important to seek professional help.

Is It Worth Doing Dry January?

Ultimately, Dry January is a personal choice that should be made based on individual goals and motivations. If you choose to participate in the challenge, it is important to set realistic expectations and have a support system in place.

According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, Dry January is not intended for those who suffer from addiction or alcohol dependency. Instead, it seeks to address the majority of individuals consuming more alcohol than recommended guidelines indicate and who are unaware of how their health may be affected by this behavior.

What Do You Do If You Can’t Make It Through the Month?

If you find yourself struggling to make it through Dry January, there are a few steps you can take to reevaluate and reset your goals.

  • First, assess the reasons why you chose to participate in the challenge in the first place.
  • Then, identify what changes you would like to make and create an action plan that works for you.
  • Additionally, seek support from friends and family and make sure to take breaks when needed.

Remember, the goal is to find balance, not deprivation.

If you find yourself reverting to old habits, don’t berate yourself. Instead, set attainable goals such as decreasing your consumption by two drinks a week or abstaining from drinking on certain days of the week until these become second nature.

What Is a Reason People Might Not Want To Do Dry January?

People might not want to participate in Dry January if they feel like the challenge is too difficult or restrictive. Additionally, some may not feel comfortable discussing their alcohol consumption even with loved ones, which may lead them to opt out of the challenge.

If someone is physically addicted to alcohol, attempting Dry January can be dangerous, due to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

Everyone has different needs and goals, and ultimately, it is up to each individual whether or not to participate in Dry January.

Regardless of whether you choose to participate or not, understanding your triggers and relationship with alcohol is important for managing your overall health and avoiding negative effects.

What Is the Ultimate Goal of Dry January?

The ultimate goal of Dry January is to develop healthier habits around drinking and build a better relationship with alcohol. It is an opportunity to detox and increase self-awareness about individual behaviors and patterns related to drinking.

Additionally, it aims to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed regularly to improve overall health and well-being.

The Importance of Cutting Back Over the Whole Year

The significance of diminishing alcohol consumption over the course of a year is immense. While participating in programs like Dry January may provide short-term relief from unhealthy drinking patterns, there isn’t enough data available yet about how effective these kinds of programs are at reducing addiction rates over time.

Therefore, those with addiction problems should not only take part in such initiatives but also seek professional assistance to address their alcohol or drug dependency.

NIAAA notes that healthcare professionals now offer advanced treatments that are scientifically backed, with care administered in many different settings. Outpatient options allow patients to keep their daily routines and maintain privacy if desired.  

Alcohol addiction can impact every aspect of a person’s life, and finding the right help can be a daunting task. Fortunately, Zinnia Health is here to offer guidance and support. Our helpline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you can reach out to us whenever you need help. Take the first step toward recovery by calling us at (855) 430-9439.


Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us