SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Dry January, a trend during which people opt to stay away from alcohol for the month of January, was first implemented in Great Britain, according to Karla Salem, an Integrated Health Therapist at Sanford.
“[It’s] kind of a way of getting people — after some holiday celebrations which may include alcohol — giving them a chance to wind down and relax from that set of behaviors,” Salem said.
Some benefits of conducting a Dry January, as outlined by Salem, who notes that such an experiment is a personal and voluntary one, include saving money by not purchasing alcohol and improved sleep.
Perhaps the main benefit Salem outlined is the possibility for introspection.
“The other main opportunity is to make some kind of an evaluation as far as a person’s relationship with alcohol,” Salem said. “Do I drink it because I enjoy it? Do I drink it because I’m nervous? Do I drink too much?”
At the end of the month, a person may find they have an okay relationship with alcohol or that there are some problems they need to address.
Even if there are no problems, Salem notes some people are prone to still cut back after the month has ended. “They’ve done some studies on that — that people are tending to drink less — people realize that, ‘Maybe I have been drinking too much’ or maybe just out of habit,” she said.
Because the Dry January experience is such an informal and personal one, there are no requirements. Due to this, Salem says one could choose to entirely cut alcohol out for the month or simply opt to cut back.
“It’s pretty much designed to what a person’s goals are,” Salem said. “If someone is actually thinking, ‘I drink too much. I really want to see if I can go a month without drinking,’ — they might take it to more of the extreme.”
For those who are looking to confront a drinking problem and make a change, Dry January can serve as a good excuse to start.
“Sometimes when you begin to stop socially drinking, there’s a lot of peer-pressure,” said Salem. “[Dry January] gives you at least an excuse. You can actually say ‘I’m experiencing Dry January.’ It offers some opportunity to jump start.”
Salem does warn that if someone is regularly abusing alcohol, attempting to embark on a self-guided detox via Dry January could be dangerous. “If one is used to drinking regularly and then all of a sudden stops drinking — you don’t want to do that,” she said. “If you’re more of a daily drinker, you maybe want to talk with a medical person before stopping cold-turkey.”
One final benefit someone could gain via a Dry January is a clarity on one’s overall health. “There’s a lot of things that alcohol sometimes covers up. There’s underlying health issues,” Salem said, mentioning that a cessation of drinking could help one notice an increase in things like anxiety or other issues that the alcohol had been masking, but not truly treating.