Why Millions of Americans are Participating in Dry January

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While America is a drinking nation at heart, many are becoming more open to the notion of sobriety. As people enter the new year with high hopes and goals based around self-improvement, many are participating in “Dry January,” signifying a break from booze. 

This cultural phenomenon has gained popularity amongst Americans, especially after exiting the holiday season which often comprises of copious amounts of drinking. By shedding off the excess from the previous months, participants are able to enter the new year on a healthy, refreshed note. 

Dry January began in 2012 as an initiative by Alcohol Change UK, which aimed to “ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline and save some serious money by giving up alcohol for 31 days.” Now, the practice has taken hold in American culture, with more than 14% of Americans participating. We live in an age where health and wellness have become a paramount aspect of our everyday lives, and Dry January is the perfect example of how our culture is transitioning to healthier practices. 

Photo by Dylan Alcock on Unsplash

Dropping alcohol for just one month can have significant effects on your overall health. You will likely see a decrease in blood pressure, improved insulin resistance, decrease in weight, and reduced risk of cancer. In addition, giving up alcohol for a month can have a profound psychological effect on regular drinkers. A survey conducted by the University of Sussex showed that participants who gave up drinking for a month found it easier to continue to limit their drinking for months afterward. The survey also revealed that participants experience a variety of other benefits, including better sleep, more energy, weight loss, and an improvement in their skin. 

Ditching the booze for a month is giving people the opportunity to “sample sobriety” without feeling the need to make a long-term commitment. The notion of becoming sober elicits a permanent feeling, something that can be daunting for regular drinkers who don’t want to give up alcohol entirely. Exploring sobriety during a time where millions of other Americans are doing so creates a unique opportunity that is rarely found in our culture. 

Dry January could be an exercise in practicing moderation, and should not be seen as a means to demonize the act of drinking. It’s all about being open to better understanding our relationship with alcohol, so if you’re feeling up to it, give it a try. 

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