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Dry January: Benefits of Giving up Alcohol for a Month

We know how challenging recovery can be after years of alcohol use. Sometimes, all you need to get started on your journey to recovery is a few simple reminders of why stopping alcohol is beneficial to your well-being. When you couple these reminders with tradition, you may find your motivation ignites. Enter Dry January.


Dry January means going alcohol-free for the entire month of January. Many people choose this month to voluntarily stop drinking alcohol after December’s excesses and start the year on a healthier, clearer note.

The benefits of giving up alcohol for a month can include increased mental clarity, better physical health and personal growth. Many studies have shown that even short-term abstinence from alcohol can improve health.


If you’re wondering why you should face the world without a sip of alcohol for a month, here are some compelling health reasons to do so:

  • You may feel more energized and sleep better: According to a review in the journal Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research, drinking high or moderate amounts of alcohol decreases restorative REM sleep. Participating in Dry January may help you get more quality sleep and have more energy to overcome other challenges in the new year.
  • Your immune system may get stronger: A 2015 study found that when healthy men and women — individuals who usually consume low to moderate levels of alcohol — engaged in binge drinking, their immunity incipiently rose. However, two to five hours later, their levels of white blood cells and other disease-fighting immune cells decreased.
  • Your waistline may shrink: Boozy beverages add liquid calories to your diet, which research shows do not fill you up the way calories from food do. Quitting drinking for a month without replacing those calories may help you lose weight without employing other methods — if that’s your goal.
  • Your skin might look healthier: Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it will cause your kidneys to rid your body of excess water. Drinking alcohol makes it harder for the body to hydrate, and lack of hydration can lead to lusterless, dry skin. Research has also shown that the toxins in alcohol can speed up the aging process.
  • You might reevaluate your relationship with alcohol: Once Dry January is over, you’ll have the opportunity to reflect on how you felt. You may even decide to make changes to your drinking habits in the future. Do you feel more productive? Healthier? Have your mood, sleep or exercise patterns changed? These can all be helpful questions to answer after giving up alcohol for a month.

Tips for a Successful Dry January

You may be looking at your calendar and wondering how you will abstain from alcohol for 30 days. Never fear. A few tips and tricks can ensure you get through Dry January with nary a drink in sight. Here are a few ways to keep temptation at bay:

  • Ask a buddy to join you for Dry January.
  • Change up your social crowd with non-drinking companions.
  • Find healthier ways to manage stress.
  • Create a new non-alcoholic, go-to drink order.
  • Find fun, new hobbies to try.


If you struggle to quit drinking during Dry January on your own, you’re not alone. Gateway Foundation has trained professionals ready to assist you or someone you love grappling with excessive alcohol consumption.

For over 50 years, our team of compassionate and experienced psychologists, doctors and clinical staff have helped patients throughout Illinois overcome the chemical dependency of alcohol addiction as well as any underlying mental disorders.

We offer a range of proven treatment methods, including trauma therapy, mindfulness-based sobriety, 12-step addiction treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapyContact us today to learn more.

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