Reasons NOT to try Dry January

Lauren Booker | December 2018 | 7 minutes

You know about the benefits and you think you’re ready – but are there any bad reasons to do Dry January? This excerpt, adapted from our new book Try Dry, lists some of those reasons.

This blog is not about finding an excuse not to try Dry January or to give up early, but to check your motivations. If you’re looking to a month alcohol-free for the wrong reasons it’ll be much harder to complete, so make sure you know why you’re trying it and that you’re happy about it.

I want to go cold turkey

If you are currently drinking very heavily, it can be dangerous to stop drinking suddenly. For most people this won’t be the case, but if you’re concerned please do check. You can complete this quiz to check your drinking, and if you get a score of more than 20 or you’re concerned, chat to your GP before taking on the month. You can find out more about this here. Done? OK, read on.

It will solve all my problems

No it won’t. Yes, we rave about the benefits of a month off, but it’s not a magic bullet. It can set you up for other positive changes but don’t think that this is all you have to do to deal with the problems in your life. However, if you use the now-free drinking/hangover recovery time to work on relationships, reflect on your choices and seek solutions, it can certainly set you up for a better year. How do I know? Been there.

If you’ve been sticking your head in the sand – or rather the glass – and using booze to distract you from your problems, quitting drinking is going to bring those problems into sharp focus. You might benefit from starting to work on the other issues first and then use a dry month to consolidate the changes that you make.

My friends/family don’t think I can do it so I want to prove them wrong

It’s not always a bad idea to Try Dry if you want to prove your family members wrong – but you do need to be sure that you’re doing it on your terms, because it’s a great thing to do, not just because you’ve been teased into it. If you’re sure you are doing this for you but your family and friends are still doubting, why not get them to put their money where their mouth is and sponsor you? That’ll shut them up!

My partner/parent/child/other loved one (delete as applicable) is making me do it

If you’re going to commit your energy and focus to this challenge, you need to be doing it for the right reasons. It has to be because you want to and are prepared to put in the time. If you feel bullied or coerced, don’t do it. You won’t enjoy it, it’ll be harder to stick to, and ultimately it won’t improve your wellbeing if you feel resentful about not having a drink.

It might be useful to think about why your loved one is so keen for you to stop drinking for a month. What’s in it for them? Are they worried about you? Talk to them about their concerns and your reasons for not wanting to take up the challenge. Having a frank, open discussion about how you both feel can clear the air. Try to see things from each other’s point of view.

If your loved one is concerned that you’re drinking too much and this is their way of asking you to slow down – do they have a point? Take the ‘check your drinking quiz’. If you answer the questions honestly, and your score is over 15, then it might be wise to think about ways that you could change your drinking to reduce your health risks. If you do decide to do Dry January remember – you need to do it for you.

Of course, there are lots of amazing reasons to do Dry January. Take a look, and see if there’s a positive reason you could find for taking on the challenge. If you’re feeling happy and excited about the month it will be so much more fun, and you’ll get a lot more out of it.

Have you downloaded our app yet? You can use it year-round to track your drinking, savings and more! Find out more and download it here. You can also buy our book, Try Dry: the Official Guide to a Month Off Booze, here. It's full of handy tips and advice for giving dry a go - whether that's January or any other month!

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