According to a 2018 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over 14.4 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder. Of those, 10.6 million were ages 26 or older, but 3.4 million were between the ages of 18 and 25. While there have been reductions in youths ages 12-17 who initiated substance use, alcohol addiction remains a prolific problem in the United States. In about 11.5 percent of cases, people with a substance use disorder struggle with addiction to both alcohol and illicit drugs.
Dry January is an annual ritual of alcohol abstinence started by the British charity Alcohol Concern in 2013. The organization became alarmed that 31 percent of men and 16 percent of women in England were consuming more than the recommended limit of 14 units of alcohol in a single week.
Many people who decide to abstain from alcohol for the month find the task simple because many of them do not struggle with alcohol addiction. Conversely, there have been several studies that do show positive benefits.
Cutting alcohol from your diet can result in several physical, mental, emotional and social health benefits.
These benefits include:
Alcohol contains a varying number of calories. By abstaining from alcohol use, you can reduce your calorie intake and lose weight. The website Drinkaware allows people to calculate the number of calories in several types of alcohol.
Multiple reports, including one by the University of Michigan, indicate that reducing your alcohol intake can result in better sleep. Alcohol is known to affect sleep patterns. Disrupted sleep can lead to low energy levels and endurance.
Improved organ functioning:
A study by University College London found that avoiding alcohol intake for a month can reduce liver fat by 15 percent. Fat around the liver can damage cells, cause inflammation and lead to other functioning issues.
Reducing your drinking can help your cognition. Sobriety can assist you with thinking more clearly, which increases your likelihood of performing well at school, home and work.
In addition to affecting a person’s physical health, alcohol can harm their relationships. The substance can cause people to act erratically or in ways in which they normally would not act. Sobriety can make people calmer and more easily approachable. This could help maintain current and forge new relationships.
A study of 857 Dry January participants was published in the journal Health Psychology. The study followed up with participants at one and six months, concluding that there were positive impacts from giving up alcohol for a short period.
Roughly 50 percent of the group ended up drinking less overall. However, 10 percent had a rebound effect and drank more than before the period of abstinence.