Dry January: Small Changes Make a Big Impact

Dry January, where people abstain from alcohol or otherwise moderate their drinking for the entire month, continues to grow in popularity. As I explained in my recent interview with NPR radio station WHYY, Dry January can provide a window into our relationship with alcohol.

One of the appeals of Dry January is that it allows us to start small. Instead of asking for a complete transformation, the focus is on is on sustainable habits and small changes we can make that have a positive impact on our physical, mental, and spiritual health. It’s an opportunity to make realistic, incremental shifts in behavior that offer a healthier, brighter outlook.

If somebody has been drinking for a long period of time, or has a high rate of consumption, we always recommend they talk to their doctor before stopping alcohol suddenly. Withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous, even deadly, and it’s important that the withdrawal be medically supervised.

Another important factor to consider is an accountability, which increases the likelihood of complying with Dry January. When we have people who hold us accountable in achieving our goals, we are more likely to stick with our commitments. If we're trying to put all these pieces in place and find we can't do it by ourselves, asking for help – starting with our trusted circle and working outward – may be the key to success. There is a part of every person that wants to be healthy. Sometimes we need a nudge from folks to see what we can do and that we have support for doing it.

If working with a friend or a therapist isn’t enough to follow through on Dry January, it may be time to seek additional treatment. There is no shame in asking for help, and it’s important to acknowledge what we can do, what we can't, and where we need more targeted support to achieve wellness goals. Please take a moment to listen to my interview with WHYY.

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