Dry January Makes a Resurgence for 2023

Dry January Makes a Resurgence for 2023

2023 could be a really good year for Dry January.

For about a decade now, a growing number of people living in the U.S. and some European countries have been giving up drinking at the start of the new year to take part in Dry January. Some do it for health reasons, some do it to raise money for a good cause, and some do it to reevaluate their relationship with alcohol, or even to find out if they can go without drinking for 31 days.

But then came COVID-19. Many Americans reported increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic due to stress, boredom, and increased availability of alcohol.

Then in 2022, more Americans than ever took part in Dry January, either giving up alcohol entirely or reducing their use, according to CGA, a food and drink research company. The 35% of the public who participated beat out the previous record year for the event, 2019, which saw 21% of Americans participate. 

Post-COVID Drinking in the U.S.

A study in December 2020 by researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland on how much Americans were drinking during the pandemic found that:

  • participants had drunk alcohol on 12.2 of the previous 30 days
  • during that time, they consumed 26.8 drinks
  • during that time, 34.1% reported binge drinking* 
  • of those surveyed, 60% reported an overall increase in drinking

However, with a record number of people participating in Dry January in 2022, and with high interest in the event pre-COVID, 2023 is set up to be another popular year for going sober for the first 31 days of the new year.

Tips for Making the Most of Dry January 2023

If you’ve decided to participate in Dry January this year, here are some tips for controlling any urges to drink. 

Keep in mind that there isn’t any “failing” with this event; if you slip up and have a drink, just recommit to your sober pledge the next day. It’s a learning experience!

Don’t Stop Having Fun

Giving up drinking doesn’t mean you have to give up having fun. Continue saying yes to those social invites. At a party, a dinner, or another event, simply observe the differences without your drinking. How do you feel? What do you enjoy? Get to know your sober self better.

Plan Alcohol-Free Activities

In the same vein as tip #1, intentionally seek out ways to have fun that don’t involve drinking, such as playing a round of miniature golf, racing go-karts, or going to the movies. You might rediscover a former hobby or activity you once enjoyed. Continue getting to know your sober self better.

Bring Your Own Beverage

When you are attending social gatherings where alcohol will be readily available, consider bringing your own drinks. Drinking out of a mug or some other container where people can’t tell what you’re drinking can help you blend in with the crowd. Or, if you’re excited about letting people know about your pledge, bringing your own drinks is a good way to start the discussion.

Go Easy on Yourself

Alcohol is a depressant that relaxes your body and mind and increases feelings of calmness, so you will likely feel noticeably different during Dry January. Be gentle with yourself and look for other ways to increase feelings of ease. Is there a mindfulness practice you’ve been wanting to try? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to try watercolor painting, cooking different foods, or writing poetry. Creative pursuits are a great way to relax.  

A Word on Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder is a mental health condition that isn’t curable but is treatable. You might have an alcohol addiction if you:

  • drink more than you intended to
  • drink more to maintain specific effects from alcohol
  • experience cravings for alcohol
  • experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking, such as sleep problems, sweating, or restlessness
  • avoid activities you once enjoyed so that you can drink alcohol instead
  • maintain drinking habits that are negatively impacting your life

Alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers help people detox safely and get on a sustainable path to recovery through therapy, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and other treatment options.

*Note: Binge drinking for women is four drinks on an occasion and five drinks for men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Credit: Rebecca Fischer is a content writer for Ark Behavioral Health, an addiction and mental health treatment provider serving communities in Massachusetts and Ohio.