Everyone has heard of Dry January — the idea of giving up alcohol for a month after the holidays. Recently there has been a push for Sober October. More and more people are reevaluating their relationship with alcohol and seem to be testing their limits of sobriety.
A study during the height of the pandemic found that 60 percent of people had increased their drinking in the last year. More than a third had consumed more than four or five drinks in a sitting. As alcohol consumption can have a negative impact on health, cutting back or cutting it out can be a healthy choice. These dry month challenges can help people who want to stop drinking take the first step. It can also be a way for people to unlearn habits and drink less frequently if they don’t want to quit altogether.
People who aren’t struggling with alcoholism can benefit from a dry month just as much as someone with an addiction. “It gives somebody a chance to cultivate alternatives [to drinking],” said biological psychologist Aaron White of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Giving up alcohol tends to help people sleep better and make better food choices. A sober month can help you make new healthy habits. You don’t have to start on the first day of the month, just pick a 31-day window and start! It could be that doing it now, before the winter holidays, sets you up for a healthier holiday season. You might reach for mocktails at the holiday parties. Or maybe you’ll drink more glasses of water between your alcoholic beverages.
Giving up alcohol may give you more time in your day. You sleep better at night that helps set your internal clock to wake up more easily in the morning and be alert sooner. People also report reading more and trying new activities as alternatives to bars. And, when you do go to a bar with friends, there are now so many mocktails to choose from. Mocktail options have come an awfully long way in the last decade, as well as alcohol-fee liquors, beers and wines. There is no need to give up being social just because you’re not drinking for a month! Companies like Liquid Death have proliferated in the last few years. Liquid Death is canned water that looks like beer. If you don’t want people to realize you aren’t drinking because you don’t like to discuss your dry month, buy some Liquid Death and stay hydrated and sober.
After a month, you can decide how to proceed. Maybe you would like to continue living without alcohol. Perhaps you would like to go back to drinking occasionally.
“Most people who drink excessively have fatty livers,” Mr. White said. “Even taking a break for a month is enough to just bring your liver enzymes down and for your liver to look healthier.”
Take a month off to help your body before the holidays. Reevaluate your relationship with alcohol. Then make the best choice for your lifestyle and health goals.