Letter to the Editor

Try dry January and reap the health benefits

Friday, January 19, 2024
Nickolaus Hayes

Taking a month of sobriety is more beneficial than you may think. Dry January, for example, is a practical exercise of abstaining from alcohol for the entirety of the first month of the year. Yet, you can start this any time and try it for a month.

For many, drinking excessively during the holiday season is commonplace. Alcohol is widely accepted to manage the stressors of the holiday season, and it can get out of hand. A month of sobriety gives you the chance to reset physically and mentally and re-evaluate your drinking habits.

Initially, the health benefits are significant. You will find yourself sleeping better, having more energy, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and more money. You’ll notice you may lose weight, have clearer skin, and feel less depressed, anxious, and stressed. Overall, your mental and physical well-being will significantly improve.

Moreover, a month of sobriety helps you re-evaluate your drinking habits along with the health and preventative benefits. Consider asking yourself if alcohol is used as a tool to cope with stressful situations.

Do you find yourself feeling stressed without alcohol, or have your drinking habits impacted your relationships or your professional life? If the answer is yes, consider a Dry January or taking a month off from drinking alcohol.

Finally, and most importantly, you remove any chance of driving while impaired. Abstaining from alcohol is the backbone of effective drunk driving prevention. It has proven effective in Nebraska. Since 2011, DUI arrests and convictions have been on the decline. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, Nebraska also ranks below average in the rate of alcohol-related deaths per capita.

If a month of sobriety seems challenging, consider some of the following practical tips to help you out along the way.

Create a supporting environment where you know you will succeed. Thoroughly purge all the booze around you; either dump it, hide it or give it away.

Moreover, find a suitable non-alcoholic drink for social situations.

Recruit a friend or family member to participate and help avoid temptations. Not only will you support one another, but you can also plan activities that do not involve alcohol, and you can speak about the successes and challenges of abstaining from alcohol.

Stay busy and active and take this time to focus on your mental and physical well-being; take advantage of having more energy and sleeping better.

Utilize Dry January apps that will help you track your progress and find practical ways to hold yourself accountable.

If the benefits make you feel great physically and mentally, consider continuing for another 30 days. Embrace your new attitude to alcohol use.

— Nickolaus Hayes is a healthcare professional in the field of substance use and addiction recovery and is part of the editorial team at DRS. His primary focus is spreading awareness by educating individuals on the topics surrounding substance use.

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