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Nick Hayes: A dry January will help you in many ways

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Dry January is a beneficial exercise that significantly helps improve your physical and mental health, removes any chance of driving while impaired, and even enables you to re-evaluate your drinking habits. Abstaining from alcohol for the entirety of the first month of the year is more beneficial than not.

For many, drinking during the holiday season is commonplace. Social drinking is widely accepted and often seen as a way to lighten the mood and bring people together. Yet, the holiday season is complex for many. There are stressors and intense emotions. Alcohol is often used as a means of managing all of this. Even social drinkers can find themselves drinking more than usual.

The health benefits are significant. You will find yourself sleeping better, having more energy, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and more money. You’ll notice you may lose weight, have clearer skin, and feel less depressed, anxious, and stressed. Overall, your mental and physical well-being will significantly improve.

Most importantly, you are removing any chance of driving while impaired. Abstaining from alcohol is the backbone of effective drunk driving prevention. In Virginia, 27% of all traffic fatalities were alcohol-related in 2022, and over 14,200 people were convicted of a DUI.

Dry January also helps you re-evaluate your drinking habits along with the health and preventative benefits. Consider asking yourself if alcohol is used as a tool to cope with stressful situations. Do you find yourself feeling stressed without alcohol, or have your drinking habits impacted your relationships or your professional life? If the answer is yes, consider a Dry January.

While all of this can seem challenging and like an uphill battle, there are helpful tips you can use to make it a success.

Create a supporting environment where you know you will succeed. Thoroughly purge all the booze around you; either dump it, hide it, or give it away. Moreover, find a suitable non-alcoholic drink for social situations.

Recruit a friend or family member to participate and help avoid temptations. Not only will you support one another, but you can also plan activities that do not involve alcohol, and you can speak about the successes and challenges of abstaining from alcohol.

Stay busy and active and take this time to focus on your mental and physical well-being; take advantage of having more energy and sleeping better. Utilize Dry January apps that will help you track your progress and find practical ways to hold yourself accountable.

Ideally, this can be optimal to reflect on your drinking habits. During the month, you will begin to lose alcohol cravings, and you may realize alcohol does not need to take up such ample space in your life. If the benefits make you feel great physically and mentally, consider continuing for another 30 days. Embrace your new attitude to alcohol use.

Nickolaus Hayes is a healthcare professional in the field of substance use and addiction recovery and is part of the editorial team at DRS. His primary focus is spreading awareness by educating individuals on the topics surrounding substance use.

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