SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – Dry January, a trend in which people choose to avoid alcohol for the entire month of January, was first introduced in Great Britain, according to Karla Salem, an integrative health therapist in Sanford.
“[It’s] it’s a way to get people — after some festivities that may involve alcohol — and give them a chance to calm down and take a break from that set of behaviors,” Salem said.
Some of the benefits of doing Dry January, as outlined by Salem, who notes that such an experiment is personal and voluntary, include saving money by not buying alcohol and getting better sleep.
Perhaps the main advantage Salem outlined is the possibility of introspection.
“The other major opportunity is to do some assessment in terms of a person’s relationship with alcohol,” Salem said. “Do I drink it because I enjoy it? Am I drinking it because I’m nervous? Am I drinking too much?”
At the end of the month, a person may find that he has a good relationship with alcohol or that there are some problems that he needs to solve.
While there aren’t any problems, Salem notes that some people are prone to downsizing after the month ends. “They’ve done some studies on — that people tend to drink less — people realize that, ‘Maybe I drank too much,’ or maybe just out of habit,” she said.
Because Dry January is so informal and personal, there are no requirements. Because of this, Salem says, a person might decide to cut out alcohol completely for a month, or simply decide to cut back.
“It’s pretty much designed around what a person’s goals are,” Salem said. “If someone really thinks, ‘I’m drinking too much. I really want to see if I can go a month without drinking’ — maybe they’ll take it to the extreme.’
For those who want to confront their drinking problem and make a change, Dry January can be a good excuse to start.
“Sometimes when you start to stop drinking socially, there’s a lot of peer pressure,” Salem said. “[Dry January] at least he’ll give you an apology. You can actually say ‘I’m having a dry January.’ It offers some opportunity to get started.”
Salem warns that if someone regularly abuses alcohol, trying to self-detox through Dry January can be dangerous. “If a person is used to drinking regularly and then suddenly stops drinking – you don’t want to do that,” she said. “If you’re more of a day drinker, you might want to talk to your doctor before quitting cold turkey.”
One of the last benefits that someone could gain from a dry January is an overview of their overall health. “Alcohol sometimes covers up a lot of things. There are underlying health issues,” Salem said, noting that stopping drinking could help see an increase in things like anxiety or other problems that alcohol was masking but not actually treating.