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Quit Drinking

A Sober Start: My New Year Resolution to Quit Drinking for a Year

April 29, 2024
19 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
April 29, 2024
19 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
April 29, 2024
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
April 29, 2024
19 min read
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Reframe Content Team
April 29, 2024
19 min read

A Sober Start: My New Year’s Resolution To Quit Drinking for a Year

  • Making a New Year’s resolution to stop drinking (or cut back) for a year has amazing benefits, including better sleep, weight loss, clearer thinking, a happier heart, improved liver function, and protection against seasonal and chronic illness.

  • You can start your sober year by evaluating your relationship with alcohol, making a specific plan that feels right to you, and recruiting people for your support team.
  • Reframe can be your trusted sidekick throughout the journey, providing you with science-backed tools to coast through cravings, set goals, and track your daily progress. Our monthly challenges will provide an extra spark and motivation!

Many of us have set a New Year’s resolution to drink less — and maybe you’re doing the Dry January challenge with us this year. Congrats! You’ve taken an important step to living a healthier, more fulfilling life. But why stop there? Why not continue and see where sobriety can take you if you stay with it even longer? We promise, only good things await. There’s absolutely nothing to lose — and so much to gain.

Curious? The timing is perfect — it’s January, and you’ve decided that this is the year. Let’s take a bold leap together into a year of sobriety — yes, a whole 365 days without booze. And guess what? By engaging our curiosity, and with science to back up our goals, we’re well on our way to the healthiest, most enjoyable year yet.

Why Quit Drinking for a Year?

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Alcohol is a double-edged sword, and our drinking habits can sneak up on us. On one hand, it creates a powerful illusion: our troubles momentarily fade away, we feel more social and relaxed, and everyone around us suddenly gets more interesting and amusing. And yet, the illusion quickly fades, resulting in misunderstandings, mood swings, depression, sleep disturbances, isolation, and, eventually, dependence and the risk of alcohol use disorder (AUD).

The Benefits of a Break

Whether or not the negative effects of alcohol are obvious in our lives, there are many perks that come with pressing pause on the booze. Ah, the beauty of a hangover-free morning! And who doesn’t love to save a little dough? When we’re not dropping regular amounts on cocktails or pints at the bar, we’ll have more cash in our wallet — and this is just the tip of the sober iceberg.

Science shows us that going sober can lead to numerous health benefits:

  • Our sleep improves. Alcohol might make us drowsy at first, but it’s notorious for disrupting our sleep patterns and cutting short the most restorative REM stage of sleep.
  • Our minds get sharper. Alcohol can do a number on our brain, both in the long and short term. As a depressant, it slows down our thinking, which persists well into the next day that often leaves us feeling tired and sluggish. In the long term, it can cause various types of brain damage, including Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome — a form of dementia associated with alcohol misuse. Leaving booze behind, in turn, allows the brain to function at optimal levels again and restores our clarity and ability to concentrate.
  • We lose weight. From the empty calories to midnight munchies, alcohol is notorious for adding pounds (usually where we least want them, such as around our midsection). Watch the scale shift and your clothes fit better as you move through the year without booze — you’ll be amazed at the difference!
  • Our liver is healthier. Our liver bears the brunt of the burden when it comes to processing alcohol, and giving it a much-needed break can work wonders. It’s incredibly resilient and begins healing itself as soon as we give it a chance to recover.
  • Our skin looks better. Alcohol is dehydrating, leading to dull skin, acne flare-ups, and redness. Going booze-free can make our skin more radiant and healthy!
  • We get sick less frequently. Don’t be surprised if the flu season passes you by this year! Studies show that alcohol interferes with our immune system, making us more vulnerable to pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria.
  • Our risk of chronic diseases goes down. Even a small reduction in drinking lowers our chances of cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers.

Getting Started: Make a Plan

Now that we know the “why,” let’s get to the “how.” If thinking about a whole sober year at once feels intimidating, don’t worry! Let’s begin by making a sustainable plan that feels right for you.

  1. Reflect on the role of alcohol in your life right now. When do you usually drink? How much? How do you feel afterwards? Don’t judge yourself — this is all about taking stock of the situation the way it is right now. Are there times when you end up drinking more than you wanted to? What are the most common triggers you’ve noticed?
  2. Engage your “sober curiosity.” Now, let’s make a specific plan for the year. Do you want to go completely sober or does cutting back make more sense? Remember, this isn’t about depriving yourself but about being “sober curious.” What version of yourself would you like to meet this year? Maybe the version that doesn’t have wine with dinner or the one that has fun hiking in the nearby park on Saturday instead of spending the early morning hours nursing a hangover?
  3. Get a team together. If there are other people in your life right now who are either sober-curious themselves or are supportive of your journey, get them on board! If not — no problem. There are plenty of online communities (such as Reframe) full of people on the same path who are ready to support you.
  4. Stock up on non-alcoholic options. It helps to have non-alcoholic drinks stocked in your pantry — and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be just as fun as your regular Friday night options! Check out the different mocktail recipes for every season and get creative.

Keep It Going: Sticking With the Sober Start

After setting yourself up for success by making a plan for your sober year, it’s time to put it in motion. Here are some ways to keep the momentum going (and have fun along the way!):

  1. January: Set your intentions. Whether or not you’re doing the Dry January challenge, use this month to set your intentions. Review the plan that you set for yourself and see how it goes. Feel free to modify if you need to — you want it to feel doable and right for you.
  2. February: Expand your sober social network. It’s February, and love is in the air! This is the perfect time to get in touch with those who support your alcohol journey and make sure you have a strong network to rely on in the months to come. Science says that social support is vital in maintaining sobriety — so reach out to your friends, family members, and the Reframe community!
  3. March: Do some spring cleaning. In January, you may have stocked up on non-alcoholic drink options to experiment with. Now it’s time to clear out what you don’t need — not just leftover booze, but anything else you find triggering. If wine glasses in your cupboard feel like they’re beckoning you to drink, swap them out for some fun juice tumblers instead! Sometimes visual reminders of the past can sabotage our intentions, so let’s clear them away to make room for new memories.
  4. April: Get active. Exercise releases endorphins and is scientifically proven to reduce cortisol levels and decrease stress. It also works wonders when it comes to cravings! It doesn’t have to be at the gym — any movement, such as walking, roller skating, swimming, even dancing in your kitchen counts.
  5. May: Celebrate family. With Mother’s Day around the corner, it’s a great time to remember and appreciate family. Send a handwritten note to your relatives, have a Zoom chat with a college friend living in another state, or plan a fun day trip with your kids. Expressing our love and having authentic heart-to-heart conversations is a natural way to boost dopamine levels, according to research.
  6. June: Go outside. Nature is a powerful healer, and nothing beats spending some time outdoors when it comes to staying sober or maintaining momentum in any transformative journey that centers on changing our thought patterns. And don’t worry if you don’t have a forest or beach within driving distance — a city park will do the trick just as well.
  7. July: Get creative. Creativity is another fantastic way to get into a “flow state,” which is associated with reduced cravings and an all-natural dopamine “high.” Take a creative writing class, try your hand at writing a poem, learn to cook something you’ve never made before. You don’t have to show it to anyone or achieve any specific result — it’s all about engaging the creative part of your brain, which works to reroute the brain’s reward circuit in a productive, sustainable, and healthy way.
  8. August: Engage your senses. In spite of wine being seen as a way to “bring out the flavor” in certain foods, alcohol actually dulls our senses. This month, explore the world of smells and tastes that you haven’t experienced before. Light aromatherapy candles or get a scented humidifier to set a specific mood in your house or apartment. Explore new spices when you cook to “surprise” your taste buds and engage your curiosity about alcohol-free life.
  9. September: Start a new project. As kids head off to school and fresh pencils, binders, and backpacks line the aisles in stores, why not start a new project? Whether it’s planting a vegetable garden, remodeling a room, or digitizing boxes of papers you have in the garage to make room for that Peloton bike you’re saving for, immersing yourself in a project is a great way to get into that prized flow state.
  10. October: Sober Halloween. With all of its craziness — adults walking around dressed as Tinkerbell, former Presidents, or Teletubbies — Halloween has become a large drinking holiday for some. This year, plan something different — maybe a walk through a corn maze or a sober costume party. It’s a fun way to experiment with sober social events!
  11. November: Get grateful. With Thanksgiving coming up, why not spend the whole month acknowledging what we’re grateful for? Starting a gratitude practice (such as a daily journal) can shift your perspective in a way that makes alcohol less relevant, making it easier to appreciate the current moment.
  12. December: Reflect and reassess. Congratulations! You’ve made it through a whole year of sober curiosity. Whether or not things went as planned, this is a huge accomplishment, since even trying to stay sober is a step in the right direction, if that is what you’re aiming for. Celebrate with a fun mocktail as you get ready to make plans for next year!
Keeping the Momentum Going

Happy New Year — Again!

Now it’s time to think about the next phase of your journey as we get closer to another New Year’s Eve. Why not keep the momentum going? There’s so much more to discover in sobriety, since that’s where authentic relationships, lifelong memories, and inspiring realizations happen.

And remember, although we’ve been talking about a year, it’s really a collection of days, hours, and moments. Those moments add up, and the more authentic ones you have, the more meaningful and rewarding the years become. In the words of psychologist Brene Brown, “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” So let your true self be seen — the one underneath the mask of alcohol.

Summary FAQs

1. Why should I quit drinking for a whole year?

Quitting alcohol for a year can work wonders for your health and well-being. It allows your body to heal, helps establish healthy sleep patterns, reduces weight, and decreases the risk of chronic diseases. Emotionally, it can lead to better relationships and mental clarity.

2. How do I start my sober year?

Start by reflecting on your current drinking habits and the role of alcohol in your life. Consider your drinking patterns, how you feel after you drink, and what triggers show up frequently. Then, make a plan that feels sustainable and right for you!

3. How can I maintain my commitment to a sober year?

Set clear intentions at the beginning of the year and modify them as needed to make them sustainable. Expand your sober support network, engage in regular physical activity, celebrate milestones, and explore new hobbies. 

4. What are some strategies for staying sober during social events and holidays?

Plan alternative activities, engage in creative projects, spend time outside, and get curious about new experiences that don't revolve around alcohol. Surround yourself with supportive people and bring your non-alcoholic drinks to social gatherings.

5. How can I deal with cravings or the urge to drink?

Find activities that naturally release dopamine and endorphins, such as exercise, creative projects, or spending time outdoors. Connect with your support network or a community like Reframe when cravings hit! Also,  practice mindfulness and remind yourself of the reasons you chose to take a break from alcohol.

Ready To Start Your Sober Year? Reframe Can Help!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today! 

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