So the Christmas season has passed and we’ve entered 2021. Each New Year, millions of people in the UK take part in ‘Dry January’, a challenge to stay away from alcohol for the month. This is not just for people who are struggling with addiction but for everyone who wants to consider a healthier way of living.
If you are already overcoming alcohol addiction, Dry January can help you to stay motivated on your goal. If you are struggling, make sure you speak to someone right away about how you feel. When sharing your thoughts, a loved one or your therapist can remind you of how far you have come. You can reflect on your aspirations for the future – and it will feel easier. With time, and by practising new responses to triggers, you’ll find that your desire to drink will eventually lose strength and your confidence in your ability to deal with any urges will grow.
We have advice for those new participants who haven’t managed the challenge, despite their good intentions. Maybe you have had one or two drinks one evening, ended up binge drinking, or have realised you cannot give up even though you have attempted countless times.
“I’ve ended up having a couple of drinks one evening.”
If this is the case, it is reassuring to remember that one or two drinks will not ruin all the good you have done to your body so far. If you usually drink every night, or fairly often, then the change to your habits should still benefit your sleeping, eating, energy and concentration levels.
Taking part counts, even if there are a couple of slip-ups. Research suggests that those who take part in the alcohol-free month still end up drinking less 6 months down the line even if they don’t complete the month. This is due to a change in habit, so you won’t actually be failing, just lapsing to the old behaviour as your body learns.
“I started off well but ended up binge drinking.”
Drinking heavily on one or more nights in the month is quite a serious fallback, but it’s best to keep it like that than revert to your old everyday habits. It is still worthwhile to continue with Dry January and see it as a learning opportunity.
Think about why you ended up binge drinking, what is associated with your drinking habits, and who do you usually heavily drink with? Dry January can be a great opportunity to better understand your relationship with alcohol.
“I haven’t been able to stop drinking alcohol at all despite numerous attempts.”
If you had every intention to stop drinking but can’t even manage to cut down slightly. Then your drinking may be more problematic than you might think. Drinking too much over time can have a damaging effect on the body, causing chronic physical and mental health issues.
Making excuses for a ‘short break’ from Dry January and then finding that just one drink sets off many urges and craving, means you could probably be a problem drinker.
It is important to remember that if you are addicted to alcohol, quitting altogether can be very dangerous. Before you attempt to cut down, you should contact your GP and seek medical advice. For details on how we can assist you regarding alcohol addiction treatment please contact us for a free assessment.