Drinking Too Much? Try #dryjanuary

Do you need to hit the "reset" button on your pandemic and holiday drinking?  The Dry January challenge may be just the little push you need.  Read on to learn how you can participate in this popular movement. Nurses Headlines Article

Updated:   Published

Drinking Too Much? Try #dryjanuary

A 2018 survey of 2,000 Americans found the amount of alcohol consumed between Thanksgiving and New Year's doubles.  Surprised?  Consider the holiday celebrations you've attended over the past couple of months that included alcohol.  After all the spiced eggnog, seasonal wines and champagne toasts, many of us are ready to cut back to our pre-holiday (and pre-pandemic) drinking routines.  

Morning After Insight

The survey was conducted by the supplemental company, Morning Recovery, and an argument can be made the results are less than "scientific".  But, with 2,000 participants, the poll results are too eye opening to ignore.

  • 69% said they're more likely to socialize over the holidays
  • On average, $241 were spent every month on social events (drinks, dinners out, parties etc.)
  • Spending on social events increased to $537 during the holiday months
  • 1 in 3 reported morning hangovers lessen their holiday spirit
  • Hangovers caused participants to arrive late to work an average of 3x during the holidays
  • Hangovers caused participants to call into work an average of 2x during the holidays

What is Dry January?

The non-profit group, Alcohol Change UK , introduced the Dry January movement 12 years ago in the UK as a way to raise money for alcohol awareness and treatment programs.  Today, many people use Dry January to hit the "reset" button on their drinking by either cutting back or going alcohol-free for 31 days.  If you're interested but missed the January 1 #DRYJANUARY start date....no worries.  Any day of the year could be the 1st day in 31 days of resetting your drinking habits.

Is This for You?

The #DRYJANUARY challenge is for anyone who wants to cut back or get control of their drinking.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 drink daily for women and 2 drinks daily for men is considered as "moderate" alcohol intake.  Let's take a look at the drinking levels defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that raises your blood alcohol level to 0.08 percent or higher and consumed within a 2-hour time period.  This is typically

  • 5 or more drinks for adult males.
  • 4 or more drinks for adult females.

Heavy Drinking

Heavy alcohol use is defined by drinking

  • 4 drinks on any day for men.
  • 3 drinks on any day for women.

Do You...

#DRYJANUARY may be a good starting point if you are someone who needs to avoid alcohol completely for health or safety reasons.  For example:

  • Do you drive or operate machinery, or have responsibilities that require skill, coordination and alertness?
  • Do you take over the counter or prescription medications that contraindicate with alcohol?
  • Do you have medical conditions that are made worse by alcohol?
  • Are you in recovery from alcohol use disorder or are you unable to control the amount you drink?
  • Are you younger than 21?
  • Are you pregnant or trying to become pregnant?

Health Benefits

Heavy drinking can cause chronic conditions down the road (cancers, hypertension, liver disease, nerve pain and more).  You can expect noticeable health benefits in just 31 days of going dry.

  • You'll reach deep REM sleep at night and have more energy throughout the day.
  • Your skin will be better hydrated and look healthier.
  • You'll likely lose weight because one alcoholic drink typically contains 150 to 200 calories.
  • Your immune system will get a boost and you'll be able to fight off seasonal illnesses.
  • Better hydration will decrease the amount and severity of headaches.
  • You'll feel better from having a lower blood pressure.

Does It Work?

Studies conducted by the University of Sussex found participants were still taking a healthier approach to drinking 6 months later.  This goes a long way in improving the decisions we make on when, how much and why we drink. 

Warning! Dry January Dangerous For Some

It's dangerous, even fatal, for some people to abruptly stop drinking, especially if they are a long-term heavy and daily drinker.  Do not try Dry January without talking to your doctor if you are a heavy drinker or experience any alcohol withdrawal symptoms.  Withdrawal symptoms may include: 

  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Shaking
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Dry January Tools, Apps and Resources

Check out the Alcohol Change UK website for cool tools to help you through your 31 days.  Here is a sneak peek at what's available:

Try Dry App

Download this free app to track your "dry" time, log-in calories and track the money you are saving during the month.

Dry January Blog

Read stories from others and great tips for your dry month.

Take the Quiz

What do you really know about alcohol and your body?  Find out by taking the online Alcohol and Your Body quiz.  

Have Tips to Share?

What tips do you have for a successful 31-day dry or cut back challenge?



I am a nurse with over 25 years’ experience and living day-by-day in these uncharted waters. I am grateful for the nursing community and continue to be inspired by the profession's contribution toward better days.

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