If this is your first year trying out Dry January, it’s helpful to think through a few of the ways to manage sobriety.
The holidays can be a time of heavier drinking, socializing, and partying for many people, making January a great starting point for a safe alcohol detox.
To help you achieve your goal of sobriety this Dry January, we’ve gathered a list of practical tools for reaching and maintaining sobriety, especially if this is your first time attempting to abstain from alcohol.
10 Ways To Reach And Maintain Sobriety During Dry January
If you’ve tried cutting alcohol out of your life before, you may have run into a few issues and may not have known how to address them, such as motivation and triggers.
Below, we’ll identify a few of the problems you might run into and discuss ways you can manage your sobriety for the month of January.
1. Find Support
It’s hard to reach any goal without outside support, especially one involving long-held habits such as drinking alcohol.
Get a friend, family member, spouse, or trusted loved one to encourage you to keep going, find a support group with others doing Dry January, and get involved with your community to help keep your mind off of drinking.
2. Focus On Self-Care
Detoxing from alcohol is a form of self-care. Now that you’ve taken that first step, find additional ways to care for yourself during the month of January.
Self-care routines may include:
- prioritizing fitness and nutrition
- starting a new hobby
- spending time with friends
- giving yourself quiet time in the morning
- practicing yoga or meditation
- doing a social media detox
- limiting your screen time
- making time for the things you enjoy
- reading and writing
Without alcohol as a crutch, you can use this time to rediscover what you love and put yourself first. This can help to take your focus off alcohol and redirect it onto healthy habits.
3. Pay Attention To Your Mental Health
During Dry January, it’s important to check in with yourself and keep tabs on your mental health. Do what you need to do to keep your mental health at the top of your priority list.
You might consider going to addiction therapy and having daily check-ins with yourself. If your mental health isn’t doing well, you may be more tempted to have a drink.
This is why it’s important to listen to what your mind and body need and respond to those needs throughout the entire month of January.
4. Fill Your Time
If you leave yourself with wide gaps of free time with nothing to do, it may be more challenging to avoid drinking alcohol.
If in the evenings you typically spend time at the local bar, and now you have nothing but time on your hands, you may be tempted to head to the bar and grab a drink.
Find fulfilling ways to spend your time, such as hanging out with friends or exercising at a new gym. Whatever you choose, make it something you can enjoy and look forward to.
5. Host An Alcohol-Free Event
Many people have friend groups and gatherings that are centered on drinking alcohol, but during Dry January you should focus on not needing alcohol to enjoy the company of others.
Encourage your friends to engage in Dry January with you by hosting an alcohol-free night.
You might go to a new restaurant, have a movie night with snacks and sodas, play games, or host a dinner party featuring special dishes from each of your friends.
6. Explore Holistic Techniques
Dry January is a great time to practice holistic therapies and techniques for self-care and physical and mental wellness.
Putting your mind and body’s health first will help you to continue on the path of sobriety during Dry January.
Try holistic methods and activities that rejuvenate your body, such as:
- breathing techniques
- yoga or tai chi
- mindfulness, or being present in the moment and aware of your surroundings
- journaling and self-reflection
- exploring art
- listening to calming music
7. Tell Others About Your Plan
If you’re attempting to cut out alcohol on your own in January, it may help to tell family and friends and post your intentions on social media.
When going out, let your friends know that you’re not drinking in advance. You may find that others are willing to partake in Dry January with you.
Even if no one else is willing to join you on your month-long sobriety journey, making your plans public can help you hold yourself accountable.
8. Practice Saying No To Alcohol
The temptation to drink is everywhere, and you may want to consider a few ready-made answers in case somebody offers you a drink.
Potential reasons for not drinking may include:
- I’m getting ready to run a marathon.
- I’m taking care of my kids this afternoon.
- I can’t drink because I’m driving.
- I’m doing an alcohol detox this month.
If you have a few answers ready to go, it may feel much easier to resist a drink if someone offers.
9. Prepare For Potential Mistakes
Even the most ardent supporters of Dry January may slip up and have a drink on occasion. While this can be disappointing, it doesn’t have to be the end of your sobriety journey.
It’s important not to be too hard on yourself if you break your alcohol abstinence. Instead, think about the reasons why you drank and be better prepared for next time.
Thoughtful reflection after a relapse can help you build the skills necessary to refuse alcohol in the future.
10. Have A Plan For February 1st
At the end of Dry January, you may be tempted to engage in binge drinking because you’ve been cut off from alcohol for so long.
This unhealthy transition can cause physical and mental health distress. Instead of reaching the finish line and engaging in heavy drinking to celebrate, have a plan for what to do when January ends.
If you like how you feel sober and want to continue abstaining from alcohol, set yourself up for success by creating a plan for sobriety moving forward backed by social support and actionable steps.
What Happens If You Can’t Stay Sober For A Full Month?
If you make it to the end of January and find that you had a hard time abstaining from drinking alcohol for a full month, you may want to ask yourself why you had such a hard time with it.
Non-problem drinking is no more than two drinks per day for men, and no more than one drink per day for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
When you have trouble giving up a drink or two daily, or if you need to drink alcohol to fall asleep or feel normal, you may meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder.
You can take an alcohol use assessment to gauge whether you meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder.
If you do, there are many treatment options available, including outpatient therapy sessions, Alcoholics Anonymous support groups, inpatient rehab programs, and more.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Alcohol Questions and Answers
- National Center for Biotechnology Information — What is Dry January?
- National Center for Biotechnology Information — 1 Overview, Essential Concepts, and Definitions in Detoxification