As Dry January comes to a close, many people are reflecting on what a month without alcohol was like. Others who didn’t participate may still be thinking about giving up drinking as an experiment. There is a growing trend to reconsider where alcohol fits in our lives—and this is a very encouraging thing. But there are some important factors to consider when attempting any “dry month,” which hold true any time of the year.
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Dr. Linde On the Risks of Cold Turkey
A few weeks ago, Dr. Paul Linde—medical director for Ria Health—was interviewed by ABC News about the “Dry January” phenomenon. His comments were positive, but with a few cautions. For some people, cutting out alcohol abruptly can be a bit dangerous.
This is especially true for heavy drinkers, whose bodies have become accustomed to large amounts of alcohol. If the supply is suddenly cut off, some people can have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. In extreme cases, those symptoms can result in a trip to the emergency room. Those people may want to consider tapering off—gradually reducing their alcohol consumption. This can prevent symptoms such as shaking, sweating, heart palpitations, vomiting, or other issues.
We hasten to add that we are all in favor of initiatives like Dry January—this past month we even had a campaign to encourage people all over the country to participate. For people who want to drink less, a national movement can provide solidarity and encouragement. According to CGA, a food and drink consulting firm based in Canada, over 33% of Americans who drink participated in the 2022 Dry January campaign.
But for others, going “cold turkey” is an enormous hurdle. When some people have a bit of a relapse, and then have a drink, they may feel ashamed, which of course can cause them to drink even more.
Watch the ABC News video below (about 2 minutes):
For Those Who Want More Help
For those who want a little more help in sticking to not drinking, Dr. Linde suggests drinking mocktails or soda—basically any beverage without alcohol. It’s also good to drink water or nonalcoholic beverages in between alcoholic ones. (Savvy bartenders these days will automatically bring a glass of water, and set it alongside that martini.) And of course, it’s good to have distractions when the urge to drink strikes. Taking a walk or calling a friend are helpful alternatives.
And for those who were committed but had a drink anyway, Dr. Linde has a reassuring message: “Tomorrow’s another day, and so it’s okay to have slips and be kind to yourself.”