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A new sobriety trend is sweeping the United States, and much of the world. Dry January, where those who use alcohol decide to abstain for the entire first month of the year, is being taken up by millions.
January is the most popular month to give up drinking for a number of reasons. For many, a new year is the time to start working on a “new you,” meaning that you can improve or even reinvent yourself. For others, Dry January is a New Year’s resolution, or part of a larger resolution to live a healthier and more successful life. Additionally, many drinkers have been on an extended period of abnormally heavy drinking throughout the holidays and may feel as though they need to take control.
Dry January was recently highlighted in a Huffington Post article, This Is Your Body On Dry January, which details the phenomenon and its many benefits. Some of the major benefits that the article mentions include:
Better Looking and Feeling Skin
Alcohol dehydrates and damages the skin. Quitting allows it to rehydrate and repair itself. Additionally, excessive alcohol use can cause a zinc deficiency. This deficiency can lead to rosacea, which is a type of facial redness or flushing.
Alcohol contains empty calories, especially beer and mixed drinks, and drunk individuals are more likely to consume unhealthy foods late at night when they metabolize slowest. More importantly, alcohol metabolism is prioritized by the body, meaning that fat metabolism is put on hold, which in turn causes fat buildup.
Drinking destroys a brain chemical called glutamate. Glutamate acts as a stimulant that keeps you awake. However, when the body detects that the chemical has been destroyed, it begins production, often in the middle of the night. The brain suddenly being flooded with glutamate wakes the drinker up when the deepest and highest quality sleep usually occurs.
The combination of weight loss, increased sleep, and generally feeling healthier leads to increased energy levels. Participants in Dry January often make statements like, “In the mornings, I’m more apt to jump out of bed than slowly get up.
Improved Mental Health
Although many users consume alcohol to help deal with stress, it actually exacerbates many mental health conditions, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression. Additionally, alcohol may be a contributing factor in the development of some mental health conditions, especially after prolonged use.
There are many benefits to a Dry January. However, it may be dangerous to some users. Heavy drinkers, especially those with dependency issues and substance abuse disorders may experience alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal is a very serious condition that can cause tremors, hallucinations, high blood pressure, seizures, and in some cases, even death. For this reason, those who believe they may have an alcohol use disorder are advised to consult with a physician before starting Dry January.
Social drinkers, on the other hand, are highly encouraged to try out Dry January. In addition to all of the health benefits, it can also force participants to evaluate their alcohol use. This is highly beneficial for many who try out Dry January and discover that they had no idea how much alcohol they were regularly consuming.