Expert tips on achieving a successful ‘Dry January’

Dry January does not mean you cannot have fun beverages. Picture: Pexels/Geraud Pfeiffer.

Dry January does not mean you cannot have fun beverages. Picture: Pexels/Geraud Pfeiffer.

Published Jan 3, 2024


“Dry January" is a public health campaign that urges people to abstain from alcohol for the month.

This initiative began as a small campaign in the UK, but has since gained widespread momentum with people from all walks of life in every corner of the globe participating on an annual basis.

If you are one of them and you have decided to temporarily halt your drinking habits this month, one of the first steps is to set yourself up for sober success.

Here are some tips for a successful “Dry January”.

Just because you are giving up alcohol does not mean you have to give up everything related to it. Picture: Pexels/Cottonbro Studio.

Remember you are giving up alcohol, not fun

Just because you are giving up alcohol does not mean you have to give up everything related to it.

If you usually go to the bar after work or meet up with friends for drinks on the weekend, you can still do so after giving up alcohol.

But instead of booze, opt for a non-alcoholic drink. You might even find that you spend less money and have more fun.

Share your goals

Do not go it alone – share your goal of going alcohol free for the month and surround yourself with people who will help you feel confident, positive and motivated to finish the month strong and sober.

By making your goals known to your loved ones, you open up an invaluable channel of communication and support.

It can be tempting to keep your “Dry January” intentions to yourself - especially if you are worried you will not make it through the month - but telling others is a good way to keep you on track.

If you are going out, let your people know in advance that you will not be drinking. You might also find that lots of others are doing “Dry January” too.

Up your mocktail game

“Dry January” does not mean you can’t have fun beverages.

Finding enjoyable mocktails to enjoy during the month can also help satisfy your desire for alcohol, without consuming any booze itself.

Drinking mocktails is also a great way to get through the month in a sober fashion, as you are still treating yourself to a luxurious drink, without the calories and headache the next morning.

Treat yourself

Not drinking for a month will save you money and you can use those extra funds to treat yourself.

If ever you feel a craving coming on, remind yourself that with every drink you do not buy, you are one step closer to booking that holiday, buying some new shoes, or enjoying a fancy dinner. That is great motivation!

It is also important to break the association between alcohol and treating yourself, if you want to manage your month in a sober way.

Instead of a glass of wine or beer, you have or do something else you enjoy. This could be some chocolate, other sweet treats, or whatever else you might desire.

Out of sight, out of mind

Before starting, use up any alcohol in your home to get all temptation out of the way – but without bingeing, of course!

Offer it to loved ones, or put it somewhere inconvenient to get to.

Keep track of your drinking

Even if your goal is not a totally sober January, but just to drink less, there are things you can do to make achieving that goal easier.

First, figure out a way to track your drinking. You could use an app, keep a drinking journal, or use a calendar and mark off the number of days you have gone without booze.

Keeping track of your alcohol intake can be a good motivational tool and a reminder of what you are working towards.

You should also familiarise yourself with the standard drink sizes to avoid accidentally consuming more alcohol than intended.

Mixed drinks, in particular, especially when made at home, can contain more alcohol than expected.

Seek professional help

Starting the new year booze-free is amazing, but what happens after that? For a lot of people, “Dry January” is the time when they realise they have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

In that case, it may be time to seek support from a professional to transform your alcohol habits for the better.

If you are unsure where to start, speak to your health-care provider about the treatment options available. They will be able to assess your situation and guide you to the right resources for recovery.