(NewsNation) — Once the new year has been toasted, many will be going into 2023 sober as Dry January begins.
Dry January started in the UK thanks to a group dedicated to reducing harm from alcohol use. But social media helped the trend take off around the world, inspiring people to give up alcohol for the month.
The idea is to see what sobriety is like, starting the year off with a break from alcohol. The concept has gained traction since the pandemic, when alcohol use spiked as people struggled with quarantines and lockdowns. Without booze to turn to, people are challenged to find other coping mechanisms and explore ways to socialize that go beyond drinks with friends.
Experts warn Dry January can uncover alcohol problems people might not have been aware they had, so it’s important to be mindful for physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, like shaking, nausea, fever and hallucinations, which require medical attention.
Depending on how much someone is use to drinking, Dry January can be a challenge and in some cases it can get worse before it gets better. People may find themselves batting cravings for alcohol as well as sugar cravings. And while giving up drinking can improve sleep, withdrawal may cause sleep patterns to get worse before they get better.
For some, the decision to try Dry January can turn into a permanent commitment to sobriety. For others, the month may serve as a reset to examine drinking habits and approach alcohol in a healthier way. But even if people don’t quit permanently, they can still see health benefits from abstaining for a month.
One study found people who gave up alcohol for one month had an improvement in their metabolic health, even without making other changes to diet and exercise, reduced insulin resistance, lost weight and experienced a reduction in cancer-related growth factors.
Study results also suggest those who gave up booze for thirty days reported reduced alcohol consumption months down the line.
Some tips for making the most out of Dry January include setting goals, practicing your responses to people who offer you drinks and participating with friends so you can support each other.
Experts also advice making plans for alternatives to drinking. That can be coming up with other activities that let you be social without hitting the bar, like taking a class, getting involved in a recreational sport or diving into hobbies you’ve wanted to explore.
It can also be a good time to explore non-alcoholic wines or mocktails that can provide an alcohol-free drinks that are anything but boring.
Most importantly. though, experts say Dry January shouldn’t be treated as all or nothing. Some people may slip up but that doesn’t mean the month is a wash and it’s time to give up. Even if the month doesn’t go perfectly, it can still be an opportunity to learn healthier habits.