Should you join in Dry January?
Dry January has been in existence for many years both officially and unofficially. A google search reveals that it started officially in 2013 with 4,000 people taking part. By 2020 it is claimed that 4 million participated.
Making the sacrifices
However, many of us have gone ‘dry’ for January many years before that. A friend of mine who always enjoyed a drink regularly went ‘dry’ in January as one of her New Year’s Resolutions more than 20 years ago. I was always full of admiration for her for doing it. As I did not have the desire or will to do it myself. Alcohol was too important for me to give up for a whole month. I always felt somewhat vindicated when, on 1st February, she would have such a blow out on alcohol that I could feel a little smug that my drinking was ‘not that bad’. (Though I was the one who eventually had to concede that I was an alcoholic. And ended up giving up permanently, not just for January).
Should one attempt Dry January?
So should you try it? The answer of course is yes. It can do nothing but good to detox from alcohol over the course of a month. Giving your liver a well earned rest and gaining all the other health benefits that come from giving up alcohol. More energy, fewer calories, a better sleep pattern, less bad behaviour, feeling happier in yourself etc etc.
However, if you have an alcohol problem, it will not be the answer. Giving up alcohol for January may get your critics off your back – as you prove to them that you can stop drinking when you want to. And you may even feel that it proves to yourself that you don’t have a problem. However, most alcoholics have very strong willpower (contrary to popular belief we are not weak willed people). And we can give up, using willpower, for a certain period of time. During that time, though, it is likely that we will be counting the days, gripping on and may even be quite grumpy without the ‘crutch’ that alcohol provides us with in our daily life. We will greet February 1st with open arms, welcoming what we consider to be our ‘friend’ back into our lives.
Finding a long term solution
Very quickly we will be back where we started, drinking every day and needing a drink to cope with our feelings and our lives. ‘Dry January’ will be a distant memory – something we might use to tell people we are not alcoholic because we proved we could stop….
So yes, by all means join in dry January if you do not have an alcohol problem. Enjoy the health benefits it brings. Then return to drinking – at safe levels – and by all means enjoy the positives of alcohol when indulged in by the occasional glass.
However if you have an alcohol problem, dry January is not going to help you. It could be a means of self deception and deceiving others in trying to prove that your drinking is acceptable. In the end, you will deceive no one when you return to your old ways.
The only long term solution is dry all year every year. If this sounds impossible, dreary or frightening, believe me it is not. Life can be and is so much more enjoyable without it. Would you like more energy, more laughter, more happiness, more respect from your family… ? This is what is on offer.
Treatment for compulsive drinking is complex and ongoing.