Dry January 2024

Dry January

Dear Dry January Participant,


It’s the new year and a trend of recent years is Dry January – a time when you take a break from drinking alcohol.  There’s a variety of reasons someone may decide to take a break from drinking alcohol for a month, and there’s plenty of research to show the benefits. But I don’t want to talk to you about why you should do it, if it’s a good idea, or if a very serious issue (alcohol use disorder) is being used in a flippant manner. Instead, I want to talk about the opportunity Dry January offers you – the opportunity to understand what it’s like for someone who HAS to refrain from alcohol use.


As you embark on this 31-day experience, I’d like to invite you into a game of I-spy; see how many of the following you can “find:”

  • Restaurants that offer non-alcoholic “mocktails” or beers – BONUS points if you find restaurants that offer these year-round and not just during Dry January.
  • Invitations to events that do not include alcohol.
  • Invitations to events that center on alcohol.
  • Number of consecutive days you can go without alcohol being discussed in any conversation.
  • Commercials/ads that support an alcohol-free lifestyle.
    • Then compare those to the number of alcohol-encouraging commercials/ads.
  • Number of people who offer you a drink and you then have to explain that you’re participating in Dry January.
  • Number of people who, after explaining you’re doing Dry January…
    • Ask “Why would you do that?”
    • Laugh
    • Say “Eh, it’s only one”
    • Respond with “I couldn’t do it!” (making a joke of an inability to refrain from alcohol consumption)


Have you ever thought about these things before? I know I didn’t….for years. Not until my first close friend shared with me that they were in recovery and that although alcohol wasn’t their primary substance, they limited their consumption to be safe. Then I had a moment of such embarrassment – all the times I talked about going to a brewery, inviting her out for drinks, etc. I shifted my mindset – instead of assuming everyone drank alcohol, I started to offer ways to connect that didn’t center on alcohol – Coffee? Walk? Dogs? I also ensured that I offered non-alcoholic drinks in addition to alcoholic beverages, making sure there was no pressure to “just have one.” My awareness expanded beyond my 1:1 interactions and I started to see how many triggers and limitations there were in our society for someone who is alcohol-free. 


I hope your engagement in Dry January leads to the outcome(s) you desired. And, I hope that you also will go beyond Dry January with a greater appreciation of the experience of individuals in recovery.





P.S. I am not an individual in recovery from any substance. I am, however, an advocate and ally determined to make the world a more inclusive place for those who are in recovery from substance use.

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