The holidays can be a time of great celebration and making new memories with family and friends. However, often time these social gatherings can lead to overindulgence in alcohol and poor decision making. In fact, some of the highest rates of binge drinking occur during the holiday season. Binge drinking can have a negative impact on health, even in the short term. This includes:

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Burns
  • Drownings
  • Falls
  • Suicide
  • Unsafe sex
  • Violence such as homicide and intimate partner sexual assault

To avoid these short-term health risks, as well as long term negative impacts of alcohol including cancer, cardiovascular issues, cognitive problems, digestive problems and a weakened immune system, more and more Americans are trying “Dry January.”

The tradition of Dry January began in 2012 in the United Kingdom. It is a public health campaign that encourages people to think about their alcohol consumption and join others in abstaining from drinking any alcohol during the entire month of January.

For some this may not seem like a significant change. However, for those that regularly drink stopping for 30 days can result in significant health benefits. This includes improved sleep, increased energy and even weight loss. Some individuals may even notice a change in cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Dry January has also been increasing in popularity, so many will have friends or family members joining them in the attempt. In fact, last year about 41% of U.S. adults surveyed reported they intended to take part in Dry January 2023.

If you are considering engaging in Dry January or just cutting down in general here are some tips from the National Public Health Information Coalition.

  • Find a non-alcoholic substitute: If you usually pop open a beer after work, find a non-alcoholic beverage you can look forward to.
  • Lean on others for support: Consider starting a Dry January support group with friends or co-workers
  • Remove temptations: Do not keep alcohol at home, and avoid bars and other places serving alcohol.
  • Stay the course: Even if you give in to one drink, do not see it as a failure. Just start the next day again.

If you have any questions or concerns about your alcohol consumption or want additional resources for cutting down check out https://www.fhcsd.org/substance-use-disorder-services/or speak to your health care provider.