Dry January: What It Is, Why It Matters and How Re-frame Provides Much-Needed Assistance : The start of a new year is a time when many people set resolutions for self-improvement — and for an increasing percentage of Americans, a key part of that involves participation in “Dry January.”
This growing movement is positioned to help people reevaluate their relationship with alcohol, and 19% of Americans participated in 2023. But what exactly is Dry January, and how can you be a successful participant yourself?
Ziyi Gao, co-founder of Reframe, a neuroscience based alcohol reduction program, offers some crucial insights into why Dry January matters and how her company provides much-needed assistance for those looking to make a change.
What Is Dry January?
Dry January began as a campaign by the organization Alcohol Concern (now Alcohol Change UK) in the United Kingdom. The campaign began with the goal of encouraging people to not consume alcohol for the entire month of January, with the hope that this would lead participants to further reevaluate their relationship with alcohol and lead to lasting change.
Over the last several years, the campaign has grown beyond the United Kingdom, becoming a popular social media trend in the United States and elsewhere.
Why Dry January Matters
“Alcohol consumption has profound detrimental effects on both physical and mental health, particularly when consumed in unhealthy levels,” explains Gao. “Alcohol has been linked to heart disease, liver disease, depression, sleep disorders, unhealthy weight gain and even several types of cancer.”
In fact, in 2020, roughly 741,000 cancer diagnoses (including breast, liver, mouth and colorectal cancer) were directly attributed to alcohol consumption. In the United States alone, 37 people die in drunk-driving related car accidents every day, totaling nearly 14,000 deaths per year. And alcohol abuse can contribute to other problematic behaviors, with ample evidence linking alcohol with domestic abuse and other violent crimes.
With all of this context, Gao explains, the importance of Dry January quickly becomes apparent. “Many of us need to reconsider our relationship with alcohol, either reducing consumption or stopping drinking entirely,” she says.
“Dry January is a valuable behavior campaign because it creates a widespread social movement and support for stopping drinking and changing harmful behavior. When people commit to Dry January, they can see the benefits of not drinking for themselves and help establish healthy behaviors and coping mechanisms that carry over to the rest of the year.”
For many participants, it isn’t just a month-long social media trend — it can become a springboard for lasting lifestyle changes. As WebMD reports, quitting alcohol can result in a wide variety of benefits, including the liver healing itself from alcohol-related damage, weight loss, reduced blood pressure, improved sleep and a stronger immune system.
For many, experiencing such benefits during Dry January is a powerful motivator to continue this healthy change after the month is over.
How Reframe Can Help You Succeed During Dry January
Of course, societal pressures can make it challenging to succeed at Dry January — or at other attempts to change alcohol-related behaviors. According to Gallup, 62% of Americans report that they drink alcohol, with 19% admitting to sometimes overindulging in their alcohol consumption.
Without adequate support, many people struggle to achieve their alcohol reduction goals. Fortunately, the Reframe app provides a neuroscience-based alcohol reduction program specifically designed to meet the needs of those who might otherwise not be able to access a strong support network. “Our goal with Reframe is to provide a comprehensive toolkit to assist people who are trying to reduce their alcohol use,” Gao explains.
“For example, we know that cravings and triggers can be especially challenging to overcome, particularly when you’re away from home. The app provides helpful resources that can help you deal with cravings in the moment, like distracting yourself with a game, turning on a breathing exercise or other mindfulness practice or writing in a personal journal. Having that support right there when you need it can make all the difference in sticking with your goal.”
Another noteworthy feature of the Reframe app are its private and anonymous community support groups. “These forums provide a safe space to celebrate milestones and receive support from others who are dealing with the same challenges as you,” Gao says.
“We also have specialized community groups for parents, LGBT individuals and others to provide even more focused support. For many people, these communities are an essential part of their process, providing the motivation and accountability that are necessary to stick with Dry January goals for the long run.”
The app also offers in-depth courses and provides tasks and coaching for users to help them achieve their goals of living an alcohol-free lifestyle. Users can also track their alcohol use to better understand their triggers and habits so they can develop individualized coping mechanisms. No matter what stage of the journey a person might be in, Reframe can serve as a valuable toolkit.
Start the Year Off Right
Participating in Dry January (and getting a little extra assistance from Reframe) can help you establish healthy habits that last throughout the year. By quitting or cutting back on drinking alcohol, you can dramatically improve your overall health and happiness and set yourself up for success with all of your New Year’s goals.
Dry January: What It Is, Why It Matters and How Re-frame Provides Much-Needed Assistance
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