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An Alcohol Free Month: Sober October or Dry January or Anytime

Updated: Apr 16

For some, come the year end, the idea of one month without alcohol has become a popular activity. The reasons behind doing so are varied but is it actually worth it? Are there tangible benefits?

As with any vice it is easy to highlight the negatives but why don’t we start by addressing the positives. Certainly we can enjoy a drink to calm down at the end of the day, to destress. An alcoholic drink can allow us to relax more in the company of others, to bond over hard times or to celebrate. However, we also know that alcohol is unhealthy and that it is all too easy to rely on it to feel better or prop ourselves up. That one drink can lead to two or more on a regular basis. Which is what brings us to this article. Firstly, does quitting booze for a month have any real positive outcomes? Here’s what we know for sure.

  • Better sleep quality.

  • More energy, especially in the mornings.

  • Blood pressure reduced by a couple of points.

  • Clearer, healthier looking skin.

  • Improved liver function, but no reversal of actual scarring or damage.

  • Save some money.

  • More time to do other activities.

  • Weight-loss, although this is not likely to be by much over the period of a month.

  • Less snacking on unhealthy foods or binge eating.

  • No hangovers!

Likely the greatest lasting benefit of going dry for a month is to understand and evaluate the role that alcohol plays in one’s life. This can have a positive effect on drinking habits for the rest of the year – you drink less and this can support your long-term health.


As we any endeavour, success is more likely if you make a plan. Take ten minutes and write it down, this will help you to reflect and organise your thoughts. Some issues to consider:

  • How will you react when in situations where it is normal to drink alcohol? What are the occasions or your triggers for drinking? This can be as simple as being at a place that serves alcohol. How will you react?

  • Do you need to go to every event? Shared celebrations and socialising are fun and important but don't wear yourself down to the point of needing that drink just to have fun when going out or to relax when you get home.

  • What alternate, non-alcoholic drinks, can you enjoy? Water, a lime-soda, a fruit-based cocktail or one with substitute alcohol flavourings? Just beware of sweet concoctions if you are conscious about your weight, the calories can add up.

  • At times you simply might have to leave an event early. Either temptation is too much or you might not enjoy being around people that are drinking. It’s ok, quietly make your farewells or excuses and go home. Say that you are feeling unwell, that you are really tired, have an activity the next day, need to complete a work project with a clear head.

  • Plan a morning activity with friends. Consider, for the month, to take up a new activity or hobby. Sign-up for something health related to get double benefit of removing a harmful activity and starting something healthy.

  • It is useful to have the support of a friend or partner. Recruit someone to your cause who understands what you are trying to do and will likely be by your side at moments of temptation. Maybe they can join you in going dry.

  • Some friends or associates might feel threatened by your shift away from the norm. They might perceive that your shift towards health is an attack against their own lifestyle. They also might try to tempt you into drinking “Come on, just one drink…” against your explanations and protestations.

  • If you were not successful, don’t beat yourself up. Try to understand what went wrong, what were the triggers and learn from the experience.

  • One month too long? Just try a weekend. But remember to make your plan.


So that is dry for a month, what if you want to continue with the dry spell? Could you go an additional week or two? What about another month? If that is the case then health benefits are compounded. These can include improved insulin resistance, lowered blood pressure, a decrease in circulating concentrations of cancer-related growth factors, more potential for weight loss.

I have found that once I make it past the first couple of trigger moments, usually in the first week, the process is much easier. I benefit from having a supportive partner and a couple of friends who completely understand and support my going dry. Even if they are drinking and inviting friends over, to drink, I will still be invited but no pressure outside of some gentle ribbing is applied. I like the fact that now I have a better relationship with alcohol. It's not perfect but certainly more balanced.

Sometimes it seems like there is never a good time to start so why not just start now?

Stay Healthy,


dry month alcohol

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Related Studies

Bishehsari F, Magno E, Swanson G, Desai V, Voigt RM, Forsyth CB, Keshavarzian A. Alcohol and Gut-Derived Inflammation. Alcohol Res. 2017;38(2):163-171. PMID: 28988571; PMCID: PMC5513683.

Yeh MY, Che HL, Wu SM. An ongoing process: a qualitative study of how the alcohol-dependent free themselves of addiction through progressive abstinence. BMC Psychiatry. 2009 Nov 24;9:76. doi: 10.1186/1471-244X-9-76. PMID: 19930698; PMCID: PMC2787499.



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