‘Dry January’ Can Bring You Health and Happiness in the New Year: How and Where to Start

Images of various alcohol-free drink options for those interested in participating in 'Dry January.'
Thinking about 'Dry January?' These non-alcoholic options can help!

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For many, the new year is a time of resolution, which can come in various forms. After a holiday season of decadent meals, sweet treats, and alcohol, some people choose to do "Dry January" when the new year comes around. But where did the trend of giving up alcohol in January come from? How and why did it start, and more importantly, what are the benefits of giving up alcohol for a month?

Alcohol use in older adults — especially women — has been trending upward over the years with the rate of alcohol use disorder increasing 107% between 2001 and 2013. Drinking alcohol can have a number of negative effects on the body, especially for older adults because of slowed metabolism and decreased body mass.

Whether you're looking to give alcohol up entirely or cut back on your alcohol consumption, "Dry January" could be a great place to start. Find out why, plus some alcohol alternatives to get your "Dry January" journey started.

When did 'Dry January' start?

"Dry January" has only been around since 2013. A woman named Emily Robinson gave up drinking in 2011 after signing up for a half marathon. The following year in 2012, she joined Alcohol Change UK, an alcohol charity in the United Kingdom and once again gave up alcohol in the month of January.

"That got us thinking," the charity site reads. "If we got more people having a break from booze in January, could we get more people thinking about their drinking? And would they drink less after their month off because actually they enjoyed the break so much?"

In January 2013, Alcohol Change UK hosted the first "Dry January," which quickly became a world-wide trend among people with health goals, the sober-curious, and beyond. In 2023, 175,000 people participated. For 2024, the charity hopes to have 200,000 people enroll in "Dry January."

What does 'Dry January' mean?

"Dry January" is when people choose to abstain from alcohol for the entire month of January. This decision is usually a New Year's Resolution for many, but it can also be a great way to assess your relationship with alcohol or even kickstart a diet. In some cases, completing "Dry January" inspires people to give up drinking entirely, especially when they see the immediate benefits.

'Dry January' benefits

Alcohol can do damage to anyone's body, especially when it comes to heart disease. But women are more susceptible to alcohol-related heart disease than men regardless of how much less they might consume. Additionally, research points to alcohol causing brain damage more quickly for women than it does for men.

Liver damage is another alcohol-related concern, especially for women. Misuse of alcohol can cause alcohol-associated hepatitis, a potentially fatal liver condition. What's more, women who have at least one alcoholic beverage a day have a 5-9% higher chance of developing breast cancer — a risk that increases with every additional drink consumed per day.

Cutting out alcohol won't prevent these conditions from developing, but it may help. Additionally, there are some immediate health benefits you'll notice if you choose to participate in "Dry January." A break from alcohol can result in benefits like:

  • Weight loss

  • Better sleep

  • Improved energy and mood

  • More physical activity as a result of energy and mood

  • A better diet due to fewer calories from alcohol

  • Reduced liver fat and blood sugar

  • A decrease in growth factors associated with cancer, insulin resistance, and blood pressure

How to do 'Dry January': tips for success

Did you know there are guidelines for drinking in the United States? For adults of legal drinking age, "drinking in moderation" means limiting intake to 1 drink a day or less for women. Of course, some individuals, like those with health conditions or those on certain medications, should avoid alcohol entirely.

If you're interested in cutting alcohol out completely or simply cutting back, here are some "Dry January" tips and tricks:

  • Seek support. Inform friends, family, and loved ones of your decision to cut out alcohol. Having this support group can help keep you accountable and have someone to turn to if the task becomes too challenging.

  • Take away temptation. Help set yourself up for success by removing alcohol from your home. When you go out, bring your own non-alcoholic drink selections with you, especially if you know there aren't going to be any present.

  • Pick the perfect substitute drink. A successful "Dry January" is all about finding a replacement drink that you love. In many cases, you can find non-alcoholic versions of your favorite cocktails, but there are also dozens of other beverages designed to make cutting back on alcohol easier.

'Dry January' drinks

Discover some alternatives to alcohol this January, including an alcohol-free wine, zero-proof mocktails, and more!

Liquid I.V. Multiplier Bundle

Best Electrolyte Drink for Dry January

Buy from Liquid I.V., $51

Why You'll Love It

  • Hydrates better than water alone with zero sugars and artificial sweeteners

  • Contains 3x the electrolytes in the leading sports drink

  • Contains eight vitamins and nutrients to hydrate faster and promote all-around wellness

Promising Review: "I am over 60 and have a tendency to get dehydrated. Since I have the Liquid IV all is goo and I love the wild berry flavor plus the added immune support."

Buy Now

Recess Zero Proof Sampler

Best Zero-Proof Mocktails for Dry January

Buy from Recess, $30 for 8-pack

$40 for a subscription 12-pack

Recess is also on Amazon! The full collection is 30% off now through Jan. 7, 2024.

Why You'll Love It

  • Made with real ingredients, uplifting guayusa & balancing adaptogens

  • 5 grams of sugar or less (sweetened with agave!)

  • 10mg of natural caffeine from guayusa

Promising Review: "I used to go to bars, now I go to house parties and show up with a case of Recess."

Buy Now

Odyssey Sparkling Mushroom Elixir

Best Sparkling Adaptogen Drink for Dry January

Buy from Amazon, $38 for 12-pack

Why You'll Love It

  • Functional ingredients like Panax Ginseng to boost energy and Green Tea, which aids in digestion and improves heart and mental health

  • 85mg of L-Theanine to promote relaxation and mental well being by reducing stress and anxiety levels

Use code DRYJANUARY for purchases from the Oddyssey Elixir site for discounts throughout the month:

  • Jan. 1-7: 30% off

  • Jan. 8-14: 20% off

  • Jan. 15-21: 15% off

  • Jan. 22-31: 10% off

Buy Now

Olipop Classic Soda Variety Pack

Best Healthy Soda for Dry January

Buy from Olipop, $36 for 12-pack

Olipop is also on Amazon!

Why You'll Love It

  • 9 grams of fiber

  • 2-5 grams of sugar

  • Non-GMO

  • Classic flavors like Cream Soda, Vintage Cola, and Classic Root Beer

Promising Review: "I am giving up regular soda. This is so good."

Buy Now

waterdrop Sports Energy Set

Best Energy Drink for Dry January

Buy from Amazon, $37 for 48 cubes

Why You'll Love It

  • Get your energy kick with all natural caffeine (the cubes come in three different strengths!)

  • Zero sugar, hello hydration

Promising Review: "Love all three. They have great flavor. I used to drink energy drinks and now I only drink one of these in the morning."

Buy Now

Thomson & Scott Noughty Alcohol-Free Sparkling Chardonnay

Best Non-Alcoholic White Wine for Dry January

Buy from Boisson, $22

Why You'll Love It

  • Organic, sustainably sourced, and free of unnecessary fillers

  • Vegan — no animal by-products are used in the filtration process!

Promising Review: "I was amazed at how this tasted so close to a sparkling wine but was a no alcohol product. It's a bit on the sweet side, but that's what I was going for. Excellent carbonation as well, not like a soda at all, but exactly what it's supposed to be."

Buy Now

Sovi Red Wine Duo

Best Non-Alcoholic Red Wine for Dry January

Buy from Sovi, $71

Comes With

  • A Red Blend, a lighter style red with lots of bright red fruit

  • A Reserve Red, which is richer and savory with complexity from a long oak aging process

Buy Now

Curious Elixir No. 1 Booze-Free Cocktail

Best Non-Alcoholic Negroni Sbagliato for Dry January

Buy from Curious Elixirs, $36 with subscription (8 cocktails in 4 bottles)

$40 for one-time purchase

Why You'll Love It

  • Gluten and caffeine free

  • Free of preservatives, sulfates, and fillers

  • Organic ingredients

  • No refined sugar

  • Made with herbs and adaptogens for stress relief

Buy Now

De Soi Dry January Deluxe

Best Non-Alcoholic Apéritifs for Dry January

Buy from De Soi, $122 with subscription

Why You'll Love It

  • Blended with mood-boosting adaptogens like lion's mane, ashwagandha, and passion flower, each of our flavors gives you the buzz you crave without the booze

  • Come ready to sip, so all you have to do is pop them in the fridge, pour them into a pretty glass, and enjoy

Buy Now

FLUÈRE Spiced Cane

Best Non-Alcoholic Rum for Dry January

Buy from Amazon, $35

Why You'll Love It

  • 24-months shelf life

  • Delicious notes of chocolate and coffee, it is further enriched with the sweetness of Dominican sugar cane, tonka bean and spices

  • Easy to mix in simple cocktails like Cuba Libre or Zero Proof Mule

Buy Now

Cann Starter Pack

Best Cannabis-Infused Social Tonic for Dry January

Buy from Cann, $72

Why You'll Love It

  • 2MG THC + 4MG in every serving (12oz "Hi Boy" servings contain contain 5MG THC + 10MG CBD)

Promising Review: "The flavors are so nice and refreshing. And the buzz takes some time for me but it’s very nice. Better than being drunk and nice to not have a hangover the next day."

Buy Now

Free Spirit Minis Set

Best Herbal Alcohol Alternative for Dry January

Buy from Apothékary, $69

Why You'll Love It

  • Stress-soothing and sleep-promoting herbs in Wine Down™ help relax the mind and body while easing you into deep, restful sleep

  • Nervine herbs in Take the Edge Off™ help calm head and muscle tension while cooling the nervous system after high-stress episodes

  • Uplifting and adaptogenic herbal ingredients in Rosé-Tinted Glasses™ help boost the mood and mental clarity while promoting moisturize and tone in the skin

Promising Review: "I have been on Ambien for years as it was the only sleep medication that I could take that helped me to fall asleep right away. I have tried many other sleeping medications as well. Then a friend told me about take the edge off. I take one dropper full under my tongue and within 30 min or so I am able to fall asleep. I wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and not drowsy. Take the edge off has changed my life for the better!!"

Buy Now

Want more tips and tricks for January resoltions? Keep reading!

7 Non-Alcoholic Drinks to Sip During Dry January (Or All Year Round)

Expert Advice: How Do I Stick To My New Year’s Resolutions?

7 Style Resolutions Every Woman Over 50 Should Make for the New Year

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.