Give up alcohol for a month and reap the benefits


By Nickolaus Hayes

Guest columnist

For many, Dry January begins after the holidays, yet it is never too late to abstain from alcohol for a month, giving yourself a mental and physical reset. You can start anytime. Drinking during the holiday season is commonplace. It’s widely accepted that alcohol brings people together.

The holiday season is complex for many, and alcohol is also an accepted method of managing stressors during the festive season. Unfortunately, you may notice you’re drinking too much. Giving yourself a month of sobriety improves your health, helps you re-evaluate your drinking habits, and there are social benefits. Fortunately, there are practical tips that can help you start the process.

Initially, 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.

Moreover, it helps you re-evaluate your drinking habits if you feel it got out of hand over the holidays. 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 month of not drinking alcohol.

Finally, and most importantly, you remove any chance of impaired driving. Abstaining from alcohol is the backbone of effective drunk driving prevention and a substantial social benefit. In Ohio from 2019-2021, 39,951 OVI-related crashes have occurred on Ohio roadways. These crashes have resulted in 2,002 deaths (about 54% of all motor vehicle deaths) and 24,359 injuries (about 8% of all motor vehicle injuries) during this period.

A month of sobriety can be challenging, but there are practical tips you can use to make this 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 or sobriety apps that will help you track your progress and find practical ways to hold yourself accountable.

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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