While the idea of "Dry January" – abstaining from alcohol for the entire month – may be well-intentioned, it’s not necessarily the most “sustainable” way to cut back on alcohol in the long term. That’s why the idea of a "Damp January" has been catching on as a more realistic alternative—and a great way to start the new year with a healthier outlook on life and wellness.
The idea of a Dry January dates back to 2012. The now-popular trend started as a public health initiative from Alcohol Change UK, a charity that works to reduce the harm from alcohol consumption. With that said, Damp January is really about re-examining our relationship with alcohol for the long term.
A "Damp January" involves reducing alcohol intake rather than cutting it out entirely. This lets people still take part in social drinking while taking a closer look at one’s alcohol consumption and working toward a more gradual reduction in alcohol. This approach is believed to be more sustainable in the long-term because it allows individuals to change their relationship with alcohol and make healthier choices, without the pressure of complete abstinence.
Some “damp drinking” ideas might include switching to low- or no-alcohol drinks, or making sure to drink a full glass of water before your first drink. One of the benefits of reducing alcohol intake, even moderately, is that it can lead to improved sleep, weight loss, and cardiovascular health. It also can lead to improved cognitive functions, better skin and digestion, and even a boost in mood and mental clarity.
However, if a person has a serious alcohol use disorder and needs professional help, then a "Damp January" or "Dry January" might not be the best approach, and they should consult a professional for a personalized treatment plan.
Fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic included an overall increase in alcohol consumption and binge drinking. According to a survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open, alcohol consumption among all adults increased by 14% from 2019 to 2020. And women, with biological differences that leave them at higher risk of alcohol misuse, exhibited a 41% increase in heavy drinking compared to 2019.
While "Dry January '' is a popular trend, a "Damp January" can be a more sustainable approach for cutting back on alcohol over time. No matter which approach you choose, the important takeaway for the rest of 2023 is to be mindful of your alcohol intake, reevaluate your relationship with alcohol if needed, and make healthier choices for your well-being.
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