As a whole, Americans tend to like their alcohol. Many of our most beloved holidays go hand-in-hand with drinking, so it’s no surprise that the U.S. craft beer market alone is worth $23.5 billion. But if you’re embracing the “new year, new me” mentality, you might want to consider ditching the booze for the first part of 2018 and making a resolution to go dry this January.
Why Participate in Dry January?
“Dry January” is a trend both here in the states and in the United Kingdom, prompting a lot of Americans and Brits to stay sober. In fact, a recent YouGov poll found that 3.1 million people in the U.K. are forgoing alcohol this month for the sake of their physical, mental, emotional, and financial health. According to Dr. Richard Piper, the CEO of Alcohol Concern, around 49% of those who participate in Dry January in the U.K. end up losing weight, while 62% report they sleep better. Around 79% save money as a result.
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Here in the U.S., alcohol overuse and abuse remains a real threat.
It’s responsible for as many as 88,000 deaths per year, according to the New York Times, and drinking-related ER visits and cirrhosis deaths have been on the rise in recent years. There’s also a real (but complex) connection between alcohol use and anxiety; many people who experience anxiety will self-medicate with alcohol, but alcohol consumption could make anxiety even worse. Considering that anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental illnesses in the nation, the relationship between drinking and this disorder shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Neither should alcohol’s effect on our relationships. Responsibly enjoying a drink or two can be alright, of course, but when things go too far, the relationships we care about most may suffer. In fact, statistics show that women are now drinking more heavily than men, and it’s impacting their partnerships. Although infidelity was cited by 21.6% of respondents in a recent study as the cause for their divorce, excessive drinking can also play a huge part. Divorce statistics from 2014 show that one out of every seven divorces filed in England and Wales were due to “unreasonable behavior.” According to experts, much of this behavior may involve drinking to excess.
On 2015 survey found that women between the ages of 45 and 64 were the most likely to drink too much, and a 2014 study conducted by the University of Buffalo found that, in partnerships that involved one heavy drinker and one non-heavy-drinker, 45% to 55% filed for divorce before their 10th wedding anniversary.
Alcohol Lies To Your Body
So if you’re trying to avoid marital problems, maybe giving up alcohol this month might be a good tactic. But of course, there are other reasons to do so. A recent report found that drinking alcohol in cold weather can actually be dangerous, as you might not realize how chilly you’re getting while you’re getting drunk. In fact, the CDC advises people to refrain from drinking alcoholic and/or caffeinated beverages if they’re going out in the cold, as they speed up body heat loss without you realizing it. With how frigid this month has already been, it might just be easier to stick with water or hot cocoa.
And of course, cold temperatures often bring snow and ice. Dangerous road conditions are bad enough, but driving drunk in inclement weather is even worse. Remember: a person is injured in a drunk driving crash every two minutes. If you want to avoid getting a DUI this winter but don’t want to spend money on an Uber, the obvious solution is to play designated driver all month long.
That said, Dry January won’t solve all your problems. Experts caution that while your body might experience some mild repair if you take the month off from alcohol, going back to your old habits in February won’t do much good. Doctors also urge those who do stop drinking in January to not binge before or after this month of sobriety. You might be inclined to go overboard for a last hurrah or for a celebratory finish, but that really defeats the purpose. Everything in moderation, they say.
If you do decide to pursue Dry January, you might be wondering how to fill your free time. Fortunately, there’s a hashtag for that. The #DryJanuary social media tag will provide photos and videos that’ll give you some ideas for activities that are just as enjoyable when you’re sober. And of course, nothing says you have to give up drinking entirely. Really, the movement is all about awareness and how making little changes can make a big impact on your health.