Dry January: How Getting a Head Start May Help You Succeed

The weather in Las Vegas is not the only thing forecasted to be very dry in 2023. For many desert residents, as well as people around the world, kicking off the new year means participating in “Dry January.” No beer, no wine, no hard liquor, and no giving up on your 2023 goals… at least not in the first month!

What is Dry January?

“Dry January” was first introduced in 2013 by the nonprofit Alcohol Change UK as a public health campaign. For the entire month of January (all 31 days), participants refrain from any type of alcohol consumption.1 According to Alcohol Change UK, Dry January is “a break and a total reset for the body and mind.2” Since its launch 10 years ago, the Dry January movement has seen a sharp increase in participation globally. Dry January started with less than 5,000 participants in its first year and in 2017, the number of participants was more than 5 million. 3

Benefits of Dry January

A dry January can help you accomplish other new year’s resolutions, improve your health, and compel you to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol. Benefits of participating in Dry January may also include:

  • Better sleep.
  • More energy.
  • Improved mental health and concentration.
  • Brighter skin.
  • Save money.
  • Weight loss.

Many people aren’t aware of the staggering number of calories that can be in alcoholic beverages. You might think the limitless free drinks in Las Vegas casinos are a plus, but a couple of drinks can quickly add up to 700+ calories. A pina colada: 526 calories, White Russian: 568 calories, Mai Tai: 306 calories, and even a straight shot of liquor averages around 100 calories. Beer can range from 100 to 350 calories and wine is about 126 calories per glass.

Tips to Succeed at Dry January

If you plan on participating in Dry January and “starting your new year, the right way” there are a few tips and tricks to set yourself up for success including:

  1. Start earlier than the 1st of January. If you consume large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis, your body may have a shock if you try to stop cold turkey. However, this could also be a sign of a larger problem (see note below).
  2. Ask a friend to do it with you. Having a sober friend to conquer Dry January with you can provide support, encouragement, comradery, and accountability.
  3. Set your home up for success. Make sure you don’t have alcohol readily available at home. Let your family/roommates know of your plans and how they can support you.
  4. Bring non-alcoholic beverages. Today’s society has a lot of non-alcoholic beverage options that look and taste just like alcohol. While this might not be right for everyone, it can help people feel more included. Or opt for coconut water, soda, or a classic glass of refreshing ice water.
  5. Schedule activities that do not include drinking. Out of sight out of mind can be a powerful tool. Schedule activities that don’t include alcohol to avoid triggers and potential temptation.
  6. Observe and reflect on your habits. You might not realize how automatic your habits towards alcohol are, or how ingrained it is into your routine. A great step towards breaking a bad habit is to become more conscious and aware of when and why it occurs. Journaling can be a good tool to get in touch with any negative (or positive) feelings surrounding alcohol.

As mentioned above, trying to quit cold turkey can lead to uncomfortable negative acute symptoms, referred to in the medical community as withdrawal. If you are experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, you may be suffering from a more severe problem. Take our self-assessment today.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much?

If you choose to keep drinking after Dry January, drinking in moderation is recommended. According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults 21+ can drink in moderation by limiting their intake to 1 drink or less in a day for women and 2 drinks or less in a day for men. However, these moderation guidelines can be troublesome if you are unable to control the amount of alcohol you drink or if you are recovering from an alcohol use disorder (AUD).5

If you experience signs of withdrawal when you attempt Dry January or if you are unable to control your drinking, you may require additional professional help. Desert Hope Treatment Center in Las Vegas, NV offers medical detox and inpatient/residential alcohol addiction treatment.

You can reach out to Desert Hope’s admissions navigators available 24/7 at . Don’t wait until January to seek help if you suspect that you or a loved one may have an alcohol addiction.

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