I Cut Out Alcohol for Dry January—Here's What Happened

The first month of the year wrapping up means that Dry January is coming to an end. For those participating, this could mean pouring yourself a celebratory drink this weekend, and there's nothing wrong with that—you deserve it if that's what you want! Personally, I started to reflect on these past few weeks, and I believe I learned more than I ever expected to.

Yes, I took on the Dry January "challenge" and have successfully completed 31 days of no drinking. But was it worth it? Here's what I think, and what a sober month helped me learn about my body.

Related: 5 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Stop Drinking

What I Learned During Dry January 

I decided to participate in Dry January after a night of drinking on New Year's Eve. While I'm not a regular drinker or someone that tends to overdo it, a recent diagnosis has made my hangover symptoms more intense.

I was recently diagnosed with ocular rosacea, which is a form of rosacea that specifically causes inflammation in the face and eyes. Since a side effect of drinking alcohol is inflammation, whenever I drink, the inflammation in my face intensely flares up and lingers long after I finish my glass.

One of the most prominent changes I noticed after not drinking for a few weeks was that the puffiness and redness in my face significantly decreased. Additionally, I tend to feel sluggish for a couple of days after drinking, so feeling fully energized each morning was a big plus.

a collage featuring a hand holding a martini with a January 2023 calendar behind it and a "No" sign in front
a collage featuring a hand holding a martini with a January 2023 calendar behind it and a "No" sign in front

Design elements: Getty Images. Collage: Cassie Basford.

Related: Why Drinking Only on the Weekends May Be Hurting Your Health, According to a New Study

I also learned an unexpected lesson while staying sober for a month: we shouldn't depend on alcohol to celebrate, and we shouldn't expect others to drink for any occasion. January included many celebrations for me, from my birthday to the Eagles winning the NFC championship game (go Birds!). And sure, these are valid reasons to crack open a can or pour a glass to celebrate, but I was genuinely surprised with how much fun I had in these moments even without a drink in my hand. I never realized my dependency on alcohol when it comes to occasions like these, and Dry January made me recognize that I really don't need a drink to celebrate.

The Bottom Line

Was Dry January worth it? For me, I think the initial reset was necessary to help me feel like myself again. I know that a casual drink once in a while can be included in a healthy lifestyle, but knowing alcohol's impact on my body as well as my awareness of our current non-sober-friendly world was the most eye-opening. Moderate drinking can be totally OK if it works for you, but this month helped remind me of the importance of being mindful of my body and aware that just because there's a social function doesn't mean drinking alcohol is required.

Up next: Drinking This Much Alcohol When You Have Diabetes Could Increase Blood Pressure