Dry January, a campaign launched by Alcohol Change UK to challenge people to make it through January without alcohol, has entered its tenth year.
In that time it has grown from 4,000 people signing up in 2013 to over 130,000 last year – although it’s likely that a far greater number take part without formally registering.
You can increase your chances of reaching the end of January without alcohol, no matter if this is your first Dry January. Behavioral science provides some insight.
One study that’s worth referring to is the influential “stages-of-change model”, which was created in part by two American psychologists, Carlo DiClemente (James Prochaska) and Carlo DiClemente (Carlo DiClemente).
The stages of change model was originally created for smokers. It has been widely used to help people work through changes such as quitting smoking or cutting down on alcohol consumption.
Instead of viewing change as a binary choice of drinking or not, the stages model suggests that there are five distinct stages.
The first of these is “pre-contemplation” – where there is no intention to change and even a lack of awareness of the need to change. This is followed by “contemplation”, where the need for change is recognized but no action is taken.
Only once the “preparation stage” is completed, can some planning be done about how to reduce alcohol consumption. This is followed by the maintenance and action stages. But, it is the preparation we will focus on.
Preparation is key. Rather than waiting until January 1, it’s better to plan ahead. It’s difficult for both physical and psychological reasons to abruptly end a pattern of behavior like drinking alcohol.
For those that are dependent on alcohol – it could even prove fatal. Your chances of success are increased if you gradually reduce your alcohol intake. This gives you time to adapt mentally and physically.
Of course, the challenge here is that just before January comes Christmas, and New Year’s Eve – celebrations that are often associated with alcohol consumption.
Even if alcohol consumption does not decrease over this time, it is important to be aware of what you drink, the triggers that can predict alcohol use, and how you feel afterward. This information can help you prepare to cut down or stop drinking alcohol.
Dry January is a type of contract where you have to tell someone that you will be taking part. It is harder to break than if the intention is to stop drinking.
Although shame is often viewed as a negative state, it can actually be helpful if it helps to keep you on track with your original goal of an all-alcohol-free month. This is even more effective if you can convince your family and friends to participate.
It might be tempting for some to keep alcohol in the home. Even if this is not a problem, it is worth making it difficult to get alcohol if the urge strikes.
It is difficult to avoid all the alcohol-related cues, given its availability and the amount of promotions and advertisements we are exposed to.
You can also prepare by finding other ways to relax and reward yourself. You might have used alcohol to celebrate or wind down after work. Having another option will help you feel less like you are missing out.
You could meet up at the cinema to make friends, reward yourself with chocolate instead of a glass or wine, and offer to be the designated driver to help you resist temptation.
It’s important that you are prepared for a lapse when abstaining from alcohol.
This could mean that after one drink, a person feels that they have failed completely and that it’s futile to go back to the original goal. This kind of thinking gives you permission to continue drinking.
Instead of viewing a single error as a failure that cannot be corrected, try to view them as just one mistake.
It can even give you valuable insight on possible triggers or situations that should be considered. This could be a way to celebrate that doesn’t involve alcohol.
This is the year we need to get away from alcohol.
Surveys reveal that many people consumed more alcohol during the pandemic.
Due to the stress, isolation, grief and sadness that many have experienced in the past two years it is easy to understand why people might turn to alcohol for coping or to alleviate unwanted thoughts and feelings.
Dry January is more likely if preparations begin in December. That doesn’t mean making difficult sacrifices.
It’s about incremental changes that will help you reach your February goal without any alcohol touching your lips.
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff. It is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.