Dry January: why and how to take on the alcohol-free January challenge ?

02/01/2024

January is often an opportunity to make good resolutions for the coming year. Among them, one has been gaining popularity in recent years: Dry January, or the January challenge in French. It involves abstaining from alcohol throughout the month of January to enjoy the benefits of a break on one's health, wallet, and relationship with alcohol. In this article, we will explain what Dry January is, its origins, its benefits, and tips for success.

What is Dry January?

Dry January is a movement that originated in the United Kingdom in 2013, initiated by the Alcohol Change UK association, which works towards the prevention and reduction of alcohol-related harm. The idea is simple: to offer individuals the opportunity to take a break from alcohol for a month after the excesses of the holiday season. Dry January is not a detox or a judgment on alcohol consumption in general. It is more of a personal and collective experience aimed at doing good, self-reflection, and changing habits.

Dry January is now an international phenomenon, bringing together millions of participants worldwide each year. In France, the January challenge was launched in 2020 by a collective of associations, healthcare professionals, and media, with the support of Santé publique France. According to a 2023 IFOP survey, 22% of French people are considering participating in Dry January in 2024¹.

Why do Dry January?

Doing Dry January is an opportunity to discover the positive effects of a period without alcohol on one's body, mood, and daily life. According to a study from the University of Sussex, conducted with 800 Dry January participants in 2018, here are some observed benefits²:

  • 88% of participants saved money
  • 71% slept better
  • 70% improved their overall health
  • 67% had more energy
  • 58% lost weight
  • 54% had better concentration
  • 57% had better skin
  • 80% felt a sense of pride
  • 76% learned something about themselves
  • 62% better controlled their alcohol consumption

Doing Dry January is also realizing that one can have fun, relax, and enjoy life without alcohol. It's an opportunity to discover new non-alcoholic drinks, try new activities, strengthen bonds with loved ones, and free oneself from social pressure. It's also a way to support an important cause—the prevention of alcohol-related risks, which are responsible for 41,000 deaths per year in France³.

How to succeed in Dry January?

Taking on the alcohol-free January challenge is not always easy, especially if one is accustomed to drinking regularly or is surrounded by people who drink. Here are some tips to increase your chances of success:

  • Register on the official Dry January website¹ or download the mobile application, which allows you to track your progress, receive tips and encouragement, and join a community of participants.
  • Set a clear and realistic goal and remember why you are doing Dry January. You can also reward yourself at each milestone, for example, by treating yourself to a gift or an outing with the money saved.
  • Inform your circle about your initiative and seek their support. You can also invite friends or family to join the challenge or to respect your choice and not insist on drinking. You can also avoid situations where alcohol is too present or suggest non-alcoholic alternatives.
  • Diversify pleasures by choosing non-alcoholic drinks that appeal to you, such as fruit juices, sodas, infusions, mocktails, etc. You can also take advantage of Dry January to cook, exercise, read, educate yourself, relax, etc.
  • Do not be discouraged in case of difficulty or relapse. Dry January is not an exam or a competition. The important thing is to persevere and learn from your experience. If you feel the need for help, you can contact your doctor, a healthcare professional, or a specialized association.

Dry January is a challenge that can bring you numerous benefits, both physically and psychologically. It is also a way to support an essential cause—the reduction of alcohol-related harm. If you are tempted by the adventure, do not hesitate to register on the official Dry January website and share your experience with your loved ones and on social media. You will see, you won't regret it!