Elizabeth's story: "Dry January gave me a chance to 'practice' not drinking"

Elizabeth | December 2019 | 7 minutes

For Elizabeth, Dry January was the perfect opportunity to try out what it’s like to be a non-drinker, and decide on things to do instead of drink. It led to the decision to try an alcohol-free summer, which was a great success! This is her story.

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I’ll be one of the first to admit that I totally bought into the whole “wine is good for you” campaign. I considered myself a wine and champagne connoisseur, subscribing to wine clubs, touring wine and champagne vineyards as destination vacations, and regularly pairing a bottle with each dinner when planning our weekly menu. For me, alcohol was a prerequisite for any type of celebration, for kicking off the weekend, and to relax after a tough day.

I never considered myself a problem drinker, yet as I entered my 40s, I found that my body was giving me subtle messages that I needed to take better care. As a result, I started to get serious about nutrition, yoga, and other wellness habits and, as I did so, drinking became a glaring hypocrisy that didn’t sit well with me. I could have all the fresh veggies, protein shakes, and matcha smoothies I liked, but none of that was going to counterbalance the negative health effects that regularly drinking alcohol can have.

I wanted to change how I thought about alcohol. It’s great to develop the strength to desire something but not have it, but what if I could somehow not even want it?

"I never considered myself a problem drinker, yet as I entered my 40s, I found that my body was giving me subtle messages that I needed to take better care."

I participated in my first Dry January in 2018 and had to admit that going without a glass of hard-earned bubbly in the evening was more difficult than I liked. I made a weekly schedule of different activities to keep my focus on other things, and so managed not to drink all the way to mid-February. After that, I returned to old habits.

I tried Dry January again 2019 but didn’t stay dry the whole month. However, even that short stint provided some new insights into the benefits of cutting out alcohol altogether. I was sleeping better and my face looked younger. I felt powerful and in control. I began to wonder, in the words of Ruby Warrington from Sober Curious, “Would life be better without alcohol?”

I decided to try an entirely sober summer and managed to do June through September having only four glasses of wine the whole time. As summer came to a close and the first day of fall neared, I wondered how I might react. Would I treat myself to a congratulatory bottle of champagne? Head to my favorite wine bar for a flight of bubbles?

As it turns out, those months without drinking ingrained new habits. I no longer craved bubbly, or any alcohol for that matter. I now had an after-dinner routine now where I either mixed a healthy shrub, poured a kombucha into a champagne flute, or opened one of the non-alcoholic beers I’ve come to enjoy. It even rubbed off on my husband who now only occasionally has a light beer.

"What Dry January gave me was a chance to 'practice' not drinking – to come up with other activities or non-alcoholic treats that would fill that void. It also gave me confidence in social situations as I sipped my club soda while others drank."

What Dry January gave me was a chance to “practice” not drinking – to come up with other activities or non-alcoholic treats that would fill that void. It also gave me confidence in social situations as I sipped my club soda while others drank. There’s no way I could have successfully done a sober summer and eventually stopped drinking altogether without the experiences of Dry January first.

And the results? I feel AMAZING. My skin is clearer. I feel trimmer and lighter and I’ve lost so much inflammation in my face. I have saved hundreds of dollars. Best of all is how incredibly calm I feel – even in pretty stressful situations. Would I go back to my life before? Not a chance.

If you’ve never participated in Dry January, I highly recommend it. You’ll be amazed at how empowering that reset can feel!

Ready to try out being a non-drinker, get better sleep, save money and feel better?

Sign up for Dry January now!