Planning to try a Dry January? There are some important things you need to know before you embark on this booze-free journey
A couple of years ago, I decided to do a Dry January. That means no booze at all, for any reason (yes, even at a birthday party / wedding / after a bad day / whatever) for the entire month. To some people, that might not sound like a big deal, but to me it sounded like a major commitment. Before I gave this a try, I wasn’t even a huge drinker or partier—I would do wine on weeknights, and maybe some cocktails on the weekends with friends. So, my Dry January was not about “detoxing” or turning around a serious bad habit. Mostly, I wanted to see if having a sober month was something I could do. I also wanted to see how it would make me feel (better? more focused? totally the same?).
Going in, I figured I would probably miss having a drink with my friends on the weekends, but as it turned out, the effects were way more far-reaching than that. My first-ever dry January not only totally changed my relationship with alcohol; it changed some of my friendships, and I’d even argue it changed my life. In fact, January 2016 will be my seventh Dry January.
Intrigued? If you are planning to try a Dry January, there are some important things you need to know before you embark on this challenging, enlightening, and ultimately rewarding booze-free journey. Here we go.
You might want to try not to get totally wasted on NYE.
I get the temptation to party hard on New Year’s Eve, to get in one last hurrah before your month of sobriety, but having a massive hangover is just going to weaken your resolve starting from Day 1 (after all, it’s hard to resist the hair of the dog). Of course, I'm not saying "don’t drink at all on NYE," but I highly recommend resisting the urge—and the peer pressure—to get smashed. Trust me, you’ll need all your resolve and discipline, because…
The first two weeks will be really hard.
Yep, the first 14 or so days of your Dry January are probably going to be really hard. I’m sorry to be the bearer of not-so-amazing news, but if you know that you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle, I think you’ll have a better chance of success. As I mentioned previously, I was not even a huge drinker when I tried this for the first time (other than two “too much” years in my 20s, and even then, I only blacked out once—and rugby-tackled my dad’s best friend to the ground. Zero recollection). But even so, that first half of the month took a lot of resolve, focus, and almost constant re-commitment for me. Even just one or two glasses of wine, or a couple of beers in the evenings, were sorely missed, because…
You’ll realize that almost all social life is centered around food and drink.
Being sober will make you recognize this. It’s actually kind of astounding, and not something you fully notice while you are participating in it. (Tip: Going to the gym really helped, mostly because it gave me something else to do and was another form of sociability.) It became hard for me to even have dinner with friends, though, because…
A lot of people, including your close friends, will be SUPER annoying and unsupportive about your decision.
This was the strangest thing of all about going dry for a month: other people. Almost everyone, including my own friends, was likely to get weird and even kind of pissy about it. People called me “boring," rolled their eyes when I said I wasn’t drinking for the month, and put a lot of pressure on me to “just have one drink.” Some people even stopped calling me or inviting me out to gatherings or parties. [For the full story head to Refinery29!]