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Here’s How to Do Dry January Right

In the spirit of Dry January, some people may have started a monthlong sobriety stint.

For casual drinkers, going alcohol-free completely might seem excessive. Haven’t scientists suggested that a glass of red wine a day can help people live longer?

But two-thirds of U.S. adults routinely drink above moderate levels, which are defined as “two drinks or less in a day for men or one drink or less in a day for women.”

About 90% of people who drink excessively don’t meet the criteria for having a severe alcohol use disorder. However, they can still experience drinking problems that affect their health and personal relationships. The pandemic has also increased alcohol use among many Americans, especially women, who often wear multiple hats in their household.

Heavy drinking is associated with a laundry list of health problems, including kidney disease, heart conditions, cognitive decline, and depression. And one recent study suggested that even one alcoholic drink per day could shrink the brain volume.

No matter how much you drink on a regular basis, Dry January is the perfect time to reevaluate your drinking habit and explore healthier alternatives to your alcoholic drink of choice. Dive into our sober series to find your flavor.

The ‘Sober Curious’ Movement, Explained

sober curious

Verywell Health / Amelia Manley

If going dry isn’t the right path for you, you might still be interested in learning about the sober curious movement. Being sober curious involves reflecting on your relationship with alcohol and thinking about how drinking makes you feel. It gives you a chance to identify how much alcohol you really drink and why you gravitate toward it. Then, you can decide how you want to reduce your overall alcohol consumption.

What Else You Can Drink Instead of Alcohol

sober october alcohol alternatives

Verywell Health / Amelia Manley

Once you decide how much you want to cut back, you can replace your glass of wine or beer with something fun. Surprise: It doesn’t always have to be sparkling water. Whether you’ve been drinking alcohol to loosen up at a party or alleviate stress, there is an alternative for every occasion—from kombucha and mocktails to CBD-infused drinks and kava tea.

Get Your Hands on These Mocktail Recipes

mocktail landing page

Verywell Health / Amelia Manley

If you’ve been drinking alcohol for its taste, you don’t have to compromise on flavor or complexity even when you go for a nonalcoholic drink. Mocktails are becoming increasingly popular at bars and restaurants, and you can make these at home easily with a few ingredients. For your sophisticated tastebuds, we came up with three smashing mocktail recipes. Try these out at your next house party and you’ll be guaranteed to become a famed, sensational sober bartender in your friend group.

What a Sober Routine Can Do for Your Personal Life

sober october

Verywell Health / Amelia Manley

Our staff writer, Claire Wolters, stayed sober for six months during the pandemic. When she took the first sip of alcohol after many months of detox, it almost felt sinful. But she realized that all the healthy habits she picked up while she was alcohol-free have stuck with her, even though she chose to start drinking casually again.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dietary guidelines for alcohol.

  2. Esser MB, Hedden SL, Kanny D, Brewer RD, Gfroerer JC, Naimi TS. Prevalence of alcohol dependence among US adult drinkers, 2009–2011Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:140329. doi:10.5888/pcd11.140329

  3. Rodriguez LM, Litt DM, Stewart SH. Drinking to cope with the pandemic: the unique associations of COVID-19-related perceived threat and psychological distress to drinking behaviors in American men and womenAddict Behav. 2020;110:106532. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106532