Want to commit to Dry January but are unsure if you will be able to make it through? It is possible, especially with a few helpful tips and new healthy habits. January is a time of New Year’s resolutions and the motivation to achieve goals one has always wanted to achieve. For some people, alcohol is what is standing between them and being their best selves in the new year. Without being under the influence, anything is possible. Dry January becomes difficult when events, where one would usually drink, are scheduled, whether it is happy hour with coworkers or champagne at a friend’s wedding, resisting old indulgences is challenging. Drinking is embedded into American culture and is socially accepted at almost every level of intoxication, making it difficult to make a decision to stop something that is widely welcomed. Fortunately, these tips for having a successful Dry January can help!
Temptation can be squashed if you have a buddy doing it alongside you and if you switch up your social crowd with those who do not make alcohol the primary determinant in one’s life and scheduled plans. For many, drinking alcohol is a way to cope with stress. With that said, when a participant is stressed during Dry January, it can be a trigger and ruin one’s New Year resolution. Having healthier ways to manage stress during January can keep one on track of their sobriety. Another necessary tip to keep in mind is having a go-to drink order that is non-alcoholic and enjoyable. This will decrease cravings and the desire to order one’s old go-to boozy cocktail. Additionally, with all the time not spent drinking, participants will find other positive outlets and new hobbies that support their own personal interests and ability to be their most authentic selves.
Dry January is very personal to each participant and tips need to be individualized based on one's true relationship with alcohol. There is no rulebook for it, but there are some tools that can be useful for most participants undertaking a sober journey.
The first tip is to remove any temptation from one’s living space, this means removing all alcohol from one’s living space and workspace. As mentioned, doing Dry January with a buddy helps one resist peer pressure to take a boozy sip in January. What this looks like is finding an accountability partner, a friend who will take Dry January seriously by your side. This also can create some fun friendly competition! A modern way to carry this tip out can be using social media followers to hold oneself accountable, and even inspire other individuals to sober up in the new year.
For many alcoholics, the slogan “one day at a time” helps immensely with resisting alcohol. It can be overwhelming to think of giving up alcohol completely or even just for a month, so many individuals abstaining from alcohol tackle just twenty-four hours. It is a win every twenty-four that pass!
A tip for Dry January is to put up a calendar in a common space that one visits frequently to remind oneself of the achievements one has been making one day at a time. For each day one successfully abstained from alcohol, check off a box or draw one’s favorite symbol on the visible calendar. Another way to acknowledge the positives that have come out of the day without drinking can be to write next to the checkmark a positive behavior that one partook in that day. It can be something like challenging oneself through a difficult workout or finishing a task that has been on one’s to-do list for way too long. This tip provides a visual representation of the benefits of Dry January and truly demonstrates how one’s life has improved without drinking alcohol regularly.
There are many goal-tracker apps as well if one is not a pen and paper person, and for those who are, journaling how one feels at the end of each day is another excellent way to document one’s month without alcohol. The most important tip for not getting overwhelmed by the duration of one’s sobriety is to stay present. This can simply look like making the decision to stay sober each and every day with the intention of “Just for today, I will not drink."
During Dry January, there is more time without intoxicated thoughts to have clear self-reflection. This month can give participants personal clarity and self-awareness. A tip to appreciate this month is to take time for self-reflection. Self-reflection can look different for every participant, but 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:
The questions to these answers can be a helpful tool when one is thinking about having a drink during one’s Dry January journey. The journal space is always there for one to look back at and reflect on one’s answers. This can help remind oneself what one’s sober authentic self thinks, believes, and needs without any outside influence. Overall, starting a journaling practice can remind participants of why they decided to become sober in the first place — and what they hope to achieve from doing so. This, of course, is highly recommended for all alcoholics in recovery, not just those giving it a try for a month.
When one spends time self-reflecting, there is a new headspace to understand one’s underlying reason for drinking, even if it is just moderate and social drinking. Dry January provides the ability to take a step back and have some introspection. Some questions one might ask oneself include:
It is completely normal for uneasy thoughts and feelings to arise in such contemplation. However, with these prompts, one will begin to understand how alcohol might have been preventing oneself from developing personally and actually presenting to the world who one truly is within oneself. With this awareness, many participants will then be able to do some soul searching and find alternatives for alcohol and solutions to the problems in one’s life that alcohol was used to cope with.
It is very helpful to plan one’s response to the questioning of why one is not drinking when out with friends for the night. Something as simple as saying “I'm doing Dry January, but thank you for the offer, and please enjoy yourself” is a perfectly acceptable response. However, it can also be likely that there could be peer pressure after any response, and at this point, one’s dedication is tested. This is the time to apply one’s Dry January tips. Some tips for this situation include establishing social boundaries for oneself; determining which activities and places are sober safe and will not test one’s ability to stay sober to the limit. For example, being at a bar can be a trigger for participants because they may come to realize how much they have relied on alcohol in the past to get through the night and pronounce their personality for the evening. If it becomes too much to be in any location, then it is always a good idea to leave.
Finding new opportunities to stay social can be a saving grace during Dry January. Keeping up with old activities is possible though! Consider ordering a virgin bloody mary at brunch, a mocktail at happy hour, or a non-alcoholic beer watching football. If these drinks are not appealing without the liquor, and one wants to keep their Dry January a secret, it is an easy option to order a club soda with lime, mimicking the image of a vodka soda. If common social opportunities seem blah without liquor then try other activities that provide wholesome enjoyment. A yoga class, bowling, or going to an ice cream parlor are always options!
This time also allows one to understand their social life with more depth. Some questions that one might begin to contemplate may surround one’s social circle and the activities that one usually partakes in regularly. Some questions may include:
Understanding who one surrounds themselves with and the reason behind it helps one ground down into personal priorities and progress personal development. Going out with friends prepared with a plan on how to not drink while others are drinking is helpful. When out for dinner and the check comes, and the bill is being split, but you did not order any pricey cocktails, offer cash for your portion of the bill. Fair is fair. Additionally, in order to increase the insightful aka high cognition times of the evening, get to the party early and leave early. Being around friends before they are over-intoxicated helps one avoid any rowdy and inappropriate behavior that emerges when individuals are overserved.
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.
Many participants complete the challenge and enter February as their best selves. With that said, why not continue ones’ sobriety journey? It has been claimed by multiple physicians and addiction specialists that one month is not enough time for the body to reset one’s system or aid one’s relationship with alcohol and fully detox the body. If the entire month was torture then one must consider his or her relationship with alcohol in order to establish a healthy relationship with alcohol consumption. This could be a real indication of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. If this is the case and that is what one got out of Dry January then reaching out for professional help is the best option.
At Genesis Recovery we provide a complete journey to sobriety that provides tools for ongoing sobriety. Completing Dry January is a stepping stone to starting the new year off in health and happiness.