So you’re trying out Dry January — aka a month that doesn’t contain alcohol. Maybe you’re doing it to save money, because you’re worried you’ll drink too much, or because your friend doesn’t want to do it alone. even though, maybe a part of you “quiet-curious,” mean you are thinking about how alcohol affects you and your life,

When you don’t consume beverages for an entire month, you may notice signs that make you even more sober-minded. Perhaps you realize how dependent you are on alcohol or how much better your life is without it.

Below, experts share signs your Dry January challenge should become a more permanent part of your lifestyle and list tips for sticking with it:

1. You discover what you have lost because of your drinking.

While many of us turn to alcohol when we feel upset, want to have fun, or relax, it can also limit our lives. For example, you can’t drive to Zumba class or play fetch with your niece when you’re drunk.

“Dry January presents a host of opportunities to experience what we might otherwise have missed,” said Brooke McKenzie, Chief Operating Officer Renovation Lodge By Burning Tree, an addiction treatment center. With all the extra time you had during Dry January, he explained, you should try something new and exciting.

Plus, you can spot everyone you missed – either in general or cool. “Often, because of the prevalence of alcohol in our culture, people can go years – even decades – without experiencing things like a first kiss, an intimate conversation, a baby’s first steps, a movie, a meal, a birthday, Huh. [or] Christmas without the use of alcohol, ”said James HartleyA UK-based counselor who has been sober for three and a half years.

2. Your interests change.

According to Hartley, you may find your old interests boring or need to rediscover the value of something without a drink.

“Enjoying yourself without alcohol requires some re-learning, and you may find that some of the things you thought you enjoyed, you really don’t, and you may find that you start developing new interests,” he said.

For example, you may find more value in small group gatherings than parties, or enjoy playing recreational football when drinking alone at home.

3. You feel better emotionally, mentally and physically.

To begin with, as you probably know, alcohol can make you feel groggy, moody and nauseous. So, Avoiding it has many benefits,

“You may experience increased energy, alertness, positive thinking, fewer depressive symptoms, more restful sleep, and an improvement in your overall well-being,” said Catherine Mollera licensed marriage and family therapist Thriveworks in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Who specializes in addiction, depression, coping skills, stress and relationships.

Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of Chelsea Psychology Clinicexplained how it works: “AAs we all know, alcohol is a depressant and it affects our brain’s ‘happy’ hormones, such as serotonin and dopamine,” she said. “One of the benefits of giving up alcohol is that you feel more balanced in mood. , may feel less anxious, etc.” Those changes can also help you with your work, because work feels more doable and less stressful.

4. Your relationships have improved.

Since alcohol can take us away from friends, family, special events, and more, you may have noticed your relationships deepening in Dry January.

“People are coming [you] more, they are [giving] positive feedback that drinking less has been good for them, and [your] Interactions with people are more genuine and less superficial,” said Kendall Phillips, a Licensed Professional Counselor,

It’s important to connect with others in a meaningful way for our good. It can lengthen your life, strengthen your immune system and lower levels of anxiety and depression.

5. It was difficult for you to stay away from alcohol.

If you notice that troubling feelings come up more than other months — and wish you could soothe them with a drink — it may be because you’ve used alcohol to numb them in the past. did, according to Moller.

“If that’s the case, it’s important to get help working with a licensed mental health professional,” she said.

Ultimately, it comes down to dependency. “The The main differences between social drinking and being a ‘problem drinker’ Reliance is,” Touroni said. Some of the signs of dependence she shared are struggling without alcohol, thinking a lot about alcohol and feeling like you need it in social situations.

“If a person has physical, emotional or psychological craving and withdrawal during this period, it indicates a more serious problem,” it added. Dee Johnsonbased on an addiction therapist Priory Hospital Chelmsford in the uk, As a result, Abstaining from alcohol can be especially difficult — and something you need professional help for. That said, dry January can be dangerous for people whose bodies are addicted to alcohol.

Dry January is a good way to examine your relationship with alcohol and decide whether you should make more substantial changes to your drinking habits.

Do those signs necessarily mean you’re dealing with addiction?

Short answer: no. However, it’s important to continue to pay attention to your relationship with alcohol.

“Alcohol abuse is usually a slow burner that progresses slowly over time, to the point that as the level of physical tolerance gradually increases, it is quite common to feel that there is really only a crisis or near there is an issue [the] Crisis point,” Johnson said.

(FYI, withdrawal symptoms These include feeling powerless over alcohol, drinking in high-risk situations, developing tolerance without noticing withdrawal symptoms, experiencing problems in your personal and professional life because of your need for alcohol, and more. .) Furthermore, Johnson said, You don’t have to drink “every day” or “only the hard stuff” to be addicted.,

Truth be told, we all have something or the other that we need to cope with: sex, food, alcohol, yoga, friends. To some extent, this is normal and okay. The problem is when it interferes with your life and health.

“What’s important is how you relate to that thing and whether, in the long term, it’s preventing you from living a fuller and more satisfying life,” Hartley said. “Whether you call yourself ‘an addict’ is irrelevant: the truth is that you have a problem with the way things currently are, and it might be worthwhile to change a little.”

Tips for Pursuing a Sober Lifestyle

No matter how you define your relationship with alcohol, what can help you avoid it (especially when it’s basically everywhere)? Here are some options, straight from these experts:

  • working with a therapist
  • asking your family and friends to support you
  • practicing new coping skills
  • leaning towards your religion or spirituality
  • finding new hobbies and interests
  • asking someone to be your accountability partner
  • attending meetings focused on quitting alcohol
  • not going to bars
  • take it once a day
  • thinking of how much better you feel
  • Brainstorm your goals (which have to do with staying calm and relating to other people).

If you slip, be gentle with yourself. It happens, and your hard work is not in vain. “It’s part of the journey with any goal to experience setbacks,” Moller said. “Think of it as part of the journey versus failure.”

Remember, you are not alone in what you are going through, and help is available.

Need help for substance use disorder or mental health problems? In the US, call 800-662-HELP (4357) for SAMHSA National Helpline,



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