LifestyleYour Health Matters


Doctor explains benefits of “Dry January” for Montanans

Beer Glass
Posted at 12:28 PM, Jan 02, 2023

MISSOULA - Some people might be on their second day of "Dry January", a month when people pledge to not drink alcohol.

Some decide to do it after drinking a lot over the holidays or as they get the new year off to a healthier start. Abstaining for a month can also help reduce your desire to drink throughout the year.

University of Washington doctors say alcohol abuse-related illnesses contribute to the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States. So, taking a break is good.

“For those people who commit to abstaining from alcohol for just a month in January, if we ask them six months later what are their alcohol consumption habits – they have really committed to reducing alcohol for a long period of time,” explained University of Washington School of Medicine Gastroenterologist Dr. Rotoyna Carr. “So, making changes in January actually is associated with long-term reductions in alcohol consumption as well.

Here’s why that might be important. The Journal of Addiction Medicine reports people are still dealing with the impacts of increased alcohol consumption from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

Lockdown drinking among women rose more than 50%, it was up to 300% for women with children under 5. And then there are gray drinkers. They are defined as someone who does not meet the medical definition of an alcoholic but shares similar tendencies.

So bottom line, abstaining for a few weeks is good for you, your wallet, your liver, and your waistline, but doctors also suggest not doing it alone.

“I think it's probably a more successful strategy if you're doing it with someone. You need a crew, as with all things,” Dr. Carr said. “So, if you don't have someone that you can think about in your life, then online resources are very helpful as well to really get that network built to make sure that you're successful.

Dr. Carr also suggests thinking about what you're going to drink instead. There are some pretty good nonalcoholic beers out there now and some restaurants have some well-crafted mocktails to help you get through your "Dry January" commitment.