Ask Dr. Dylan: Benefits of Dry January

What are the benefits of a Dry January

Dr. Dylan explains the benefits of giving up alcohol for the month of January.

You’ve likely heard of Dry January or maybe you’ve even decided to take on the challenge yourself.

Dr. Dylan Wyatt, an Emergency Medicine Physician at St. Luke’s weighs in on the potential health benefits.

What is dry January?

Dr. Dylan: Dry January starts the New Year with a clean slate. For the entirety of January, from the ball dropping at New Years to the end of the month, participants abstain from all alcoholic beverages: Wine, Beer, and Spirits.

Why has this movement gained popularity? What are some of the benefits of taking one month off from drinking?

Dr. Dylan: The movement really took off in 2020, when Americans saw a massive spike in alcohol consumption. Cutting out alcohol can have multiple positive health effects: decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol, improving sleep and energy, and weight loss.

Who would you recommend this challenge to?  

Dr. Dylan: Anyone! It can be hard to know when drinking has become a problem – which this challenge can help with. Even if you know you have a drinking problem, cutting back and quitting can be very hard. If you feel like that applies do you, strongly consider taking part in this challenge.

Is there such a thing as a healthy level of alcohol consumption?

Dr. Dylan: No. The old adage “a glass of wine an evening is healthy” doesn’t hold up to research.

Do you think even doing a semi-dry January could be beneficial?  

Dr. Dylan: Absolutely! Any amount of decrease in alcohol intake will be beneficial. It’s also a good time to reflect on how much and why you drink. Is it social? Habitual? To calm the nerves or sleep? Sometimes the line between habit and dependency is blurry, and your feeling towards alcohol while it is gone can tell you a lot about if and how you depend on it and use it, and if that is a healthy relationship worth continuing.

What ways can you set yourself up for success as you try either of these challenges?

Dr. Dylan: A month can seem like a long time, but there are plenty of ways you can set yourself up for success. 

  1. Make sure your family and friends understand you will be doing this and ask for their support. You can even ask them to join!
  2. Find substitutes you can drink depending on the situation. Are you a social drinker? Reach for a sparkling water or virgin cocktail. Do you like a nightcap? Try some decaf tea. This way you will only be fighting part of a habit (the alcohol), not getting rid of the activity entirely.
  3. Keep alcohol out of the house. It will keep temptation at bay.
  4. If you slip up, don’t give up. Don’t feel guilty, just start again the next day!