Why you should give 'Dry January' a go
Not drinking alcohol for a month should be achievable for most of us, and perhaps this can function as extra motivation for your resolution: participating in ‘Dry January’ ensures that you also drink less alcohol for the rest of the year.
“Nowadays, the negative effects of excessive drinking are a lot more obvious,” says Reinout Wiers, professor of developmental psychopathology and addiction expert at the University of Amsterdam. And that’s why many people make an effort in the New Year to break their regular drinking habits.
Breaking the habit
It goes without saying that you do your body a favor by ‘staying dry’ for a month. This makes your body fitter, you lose weight more efficiently, and it improves your sleep rhythm. But perhaps a more important advantage is that you break a known pattern.
Martijn Planken, co-initiator and campaign leader of IkPas, says that you press a kind of reset button by distancing yourself from alcohol for a month. “You live your life, that includes alcohol and drinking. Unconsciously, you drink in a pattern, and only once you stop drinking can you recognize and break through that pattern.” Planken also says that quitting drinking gives you new insights. “You find that drinking was not necessary at all on some occasions. In addition, you learn to say no better, which makes you feel more confident and mentally stable.”
Six months later
Even after ‘Dry January’, people notice the positive consequences of temporarily breaking off their relationship with alcohol. In addition to the newly-found insights, research also shows that one drinks less on average in the months that follow.
Rob Bovens, co-initiator of IkPas and senior researcher at Tilburg University, says that the effect can last up to six months. “We have seen in England and the Netherlands that the average participant drinks substantially less six months after the alcohol-free month.”
What about overcompensation?
According to Bovens, you do not have to worry about the missed alcohol by overcompensating in February. “It is not that there is a yo-yo effect, such as after stopping a diet.” This is because the fixed pattern has already been broken, and thus a new pattern has been created.
“Immediately afterward, people drink at least 50 percent less than they did before.” The effects of ‘Dry January’ are therefore noticeable in the short term, during the month itself, and in the long term, if you still manage to say ‘no’ six months later. And good intentions don’t depend on the month, of course. They can start at any time.