Dry January: What Is It, Its Benefits, & How You Can, Too

If you’re like twenty-one percent of Americans, your drinking habits became excessive after COVID-19. And, we all know that excessive drinking has its pitfalls and dangers. Though there was a reduction in the amount of social drinking when the pandemic was at its peak, at-home drinking increased significantly. Though not originally crafted to mitigate these effects, Dry January is certainly a good answer to this predicament.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most common questions surrounding Dry January, like what is Dry January, what are the benefits of Dry January, and how do I get started with Dry January? Let’s jump in and talk a bit about this month-long challenge.

What Is Dry January?

Dry January is a month-long event where people pledge to not drink alcohol. Everyone’s reason for participating in Dry January is a bit different, and it might even vary based on their relationship with alcohol every year. At any rate, Dry January is a time when many different people come together and make a commitment to abstain from alcohol together for a single month (Sober October is a very similar idea).

When Is Dry January?

As the name implies, Dry January happens during the month of January! However, as a positive health campaign, you could, realistically, have a dry month any time of the year. For most people, the holidays are a time of indulgence and heavy drinking. This makes January a great time of the year to abstain from alcohol and reset oneself a bit. Plus, it’s a New Year’s resolution that you can begin right as the ball drops – just drink the last of whatever you’re holding and stay dry till February 1st!

What’s the History of Dry January?

This month-long challenge was actually started in 2013 by Alcohol Change UK, a non-profit for public health changes. The official trademark wasn’t registered until 2014, however.

Dry January was Fran Posillico’s idea; he got the idea after taking a month-long break from alcoholic beverages in 2008. In fact, he experienced such dramatic benefits that he wanted to share his success with everyone. Since its UK conception in 2013, Dry January has been endorsed by many different countries, including the US, France, Norway, Switzerland, and Germany.

Why Do People Participate in Dry January?

According to a 2021 survey of 2,200 American adults, approximately 13% of Americans participated that year. Of those, 79% stated their reason was simply to “be healthier.” The second-most reported reason came in at 72% – “trying to drink less overall.” Others wanted to “reset drinking,” the fact that they “always participate,” they drank “too much during COVID-19” (we totally get it), or that they were “participating with a group.”

Regardless of the reason you choose to go dry for January, you’re not alone. An average of 19% of Americans participated in 2022, and those numbers dipped to 15% in 2023.

What Are the Benefits of Dry January?

If you’re curious about the Dry January benefits for your health, there are certainly quite a few to consider. The benefits of Dry January for you will depend on how much you usually drink during the week. For example, if you have to drink three or more drinks to feel anything, a short hiatus from alcohol might be for you!

Benefit #1: You May Lose Weight

Studies suggest that, due to alcohol’s effect on impulsivity, abstaining from alcohol can help us better control how and what we eat. This, combined with the fact that alcohol is full of non-nutritive calories, means that stopping drinking for a month could stand to help you lose some weight.

Benefit #2: Your Budget Will Have Wiggle Room

There’s no denying that alcohol is expensive. Furthermore, as humans develop a tolerance for alcohol, they tend to move onto higher-proof and a higher quantity of beverages. This can become a strain on the wallet that you might not even see yet. Abstaining from alcohol for Dry January will help you save a bit of money and might even be an eye-opener.

Benefit #3: You’ll Give Your Liver a Break

The liver is solely responsible for neutralizing ethyl alcohol and removing it from the body when you drink – and it can’t do it all at once. Alcohol is neutralized by enzymes that get secreted by the liver, at a rate of about one drink per hour. However, over time, the brain can build up a tolerance to the effects of alcohol – all while your liver is doing more work than would have been required before your tolerance increased.

Taking a month-long break from the booze can help reset your brain’s tolerance and give your liver a much-needed break. Because remember, your liver is also responsible for processing many other toxins like medications and it helps with digestion.

Benefit #4: Your Skin Might Clear Up

It’s unclear exactly why this is the case – perhaps because of the excess sugar intake with drinking. However, many sources suggest that abstaining from alcohol can help clear up skin and lead to healthier-overall skin. Another suggestion is that, since alcohol can lead to indulgence, people who drink excessively might eat fewer skin-healthy foods.

Benefit #5: Your Gut Might Be Healthier

Alcohol can severely impact the gut microbiome and lead to deficiencies. If you abstain from alcohol and focus on gut health for a month (eating more fiber and taking a probiotic supplement), you might find that your bowel issues clear up and you feel better in general.

Benefit #6: You Might Sleep Better

You might fall asleep easier while intoxicated, but you definitely don’t sleep more soundly. Alcohol intake affects your night of sleep in three critical ways: contributing to insomnia, disrupting your sleep stages, and altering your circadian rhythms. Some people may also find that falling asleep intoxicated causes them to snore more – it can even disrupt how much oxygen you get while you sleep.

Kicking the booze to the curb for a month, then, can help you “catch up” and get well-rested. This revelation might cause you to rethink how much you drink – or at least when you have that last sip.

Benefit #7: Your Overall Mood Might Be Better

Remember how we said that alcohol disrupts the gut microbiome? Well, the microflora in your gut has a remarkable impact on mood states, as scientists have discovered in the last ten years. So then, it’s not a far jump to see how alcohol can, at least indirectly, impact your mood. However, it doesn’t stop there; alcohol can cause firsthand effects, too.

“…alcohol may cause unpredictable mood swings, decreased inhibition, a false sense of confidence, increased aggression, feelings of worthlessness, and suicidal depression.” – AlcoholRehabGuide.org

So, if you’re struggling with negative mood states, Dry January might be a good option for you to try. People who take a break from drinking may find that they have a more positive general mood throughout the week

How Do I Go “Dry” for Dry January?

According to health and psychology experts, there are several steps you can take that will help you be more successful in your Dry January endeavor:

Step 1: Ask Yourself “Why?”

There are obviously numerous benefits, from financial to personal health. However, identifying and verbalizing your unique reason can help you stick to your goal. Ask yourself why you’re doing this for yourself. This will help you succeed and get more out of the experience.

Step 2: Ask Yourself How Successful You Can Be

If you’re the type of person who only gets enjoyment from social outings with friends where drinking is involved and you have no other hobbies, you’re going to struggle a little bit. You’ll either need to come up with a strategy to abstain or do some other fun things during Dry January. Above all, don’t try to commit to something that’s going to be nearly impossible for you to do.

Step 3: Solidify Your Decision and Define It

Next, write down the specifics of your commitment. If your Dry January is more of a “damp” January, how many drinks per week are you allowing yourself? Once you’ve solidified your decision, tell someone else – post to social media, tell your family, or download an app to keep you on track.

Step 4: Get Rid of the Temptation

If you’re going 100% dry for Dry January and have no one else in the home with you who will not be participating, clear out your booze. Get it out of the house so you don’t have easy access anymore. You don’t have to dump it, that’s alcohol abuse! Ask a friend if they’ll hold onto it for you and give it back at the end of the month.

Step 5: Track Your Progress & How You’re Feeling

Be mindful of how your body and mind are reacting to the absence of alcohol on a regular basis. Mark down these findings to encourage you and remind you why you’re participating in Dry January, to begin with!

Tips & Tricks for Going Dry Successfully for Dry January

For some of us, drinking has become a big part of our lives – whether that’s due to the pandemic or other mental health struggles, some of us fall into the “drink too much” category without really being alcoholics. If you sit right in this category, going dry for January might be really, really hard. So, here are a few tips and tricks to help you successfully kick booze to the curb for a month (or more if you end up feeling amazing):

  • Eat healthy, varied foods – most people who quit booze end up with cravings. Keeping your body well-nourished can help reduce these cravings.
  • Replace alcohol with something healthier – drinking is usually ritualistic. Replace your nightcap with something like a seltzer in a fancy glass to maintain that ritual so you don’t feel like you’re missing out as much.
  • Find someone to hold you accountable – an accountability partner can help you stay true to your goals and boost your chance of success.
  • Ask someone for direct help if you discover you had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

Are There Variations of Dry January?

Absolutely. Some people choose to do a “damp January” or a “single drink January” if they slip up. It happens. The overall goal is to reduce your intake or reset your body’s ability to process alcohol, and you can still do this with a drink or two during the week.

What Non-Alcoholic Beverages Can I Try During Dry January?

Some people find that the habitual act of mixing up or cracking open a drink is what really holds them back – not the alcohol itself. For those people, delicious swaps can be a great alternative to either help them cut back or cut out alcohol entirely. Honestly, if you find something you like just as much or even more than your alcoholic drink of choice, you might have just found a life-long way to reduce your alcohol intake. Here are a few highly-popular ideas.


Now, kombucha technically has a tiny bit of ethyl alcohol in it. Store-bought kombucha is highly regulated, though, and cannot contain more than 0.5%. So, depending on your initial commitments, Kombucha can be an incredibly healthy swap – especially if you get unpasteurized, raw Booch. Seriously, check out all of the health benefits of Booch.

Plus, kombucha could become a new hobby for you, too, because it can be brewed at home.

Seltzer Water

A fan favorite for swapping out alcohol is seltzer water. It comes in tons of flavors and can be dressed up just like a fizzy alcoholic beverage. Keep plenty of seltzer on hand that you can mix with orange juice and other things for a tasty, non-alcoholic drink.

Non-Alcoholic “Wines”

There’s a whole market full of non-alcoholic wines that are made with teas, fruit juices, and bitters to emulate the experience of drinking wine. If you love wine, definitely give these a try.

What Do I Do When Dry January is Over?

When 11:59 on January 31st has passed, so has Dry January. What you do on February 1st is up to you; listen to your body and really hear what it’s saying. If you felt life-changing-ly fantastic during Dry January, you might consider making a long-term change. If, on the other hand, you just felt left out and didn’t experience many health benefits, you might celebrate the end of Dry January with a mimosa. 

Whatever you choose, know that you’re making the best decision for you in your current situation. And, if you’re itching to try something new at a local distillery for your first drink back into the swing of things, check out your state in our local directory.

From all of us here at Distillery Nearby,

Good luck with your Dry January endeavors!

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