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Benefits of a Dry February

Published:
January 28, 2024
·
20 min read
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Written by
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.
January 28, 2024
·
20 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
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.
January 28, 2024
·
20 min read
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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.
January 28, 2024
·
20 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Reframe Content Team
January 28, 2024
·
20 min read

Blog Summary: Stay Dry and Thrive

  • Dry February is a great way to keep the ball rolling after Dry January, or to reset if Dry January didn’t go as planned. 
  • All of the benefits of Dry January compound with another month of sobriety.
  • Reframe will be your biggest champion the whole way through the month — and beyond!

Ah, love is in the air. Aquarius season evolves into Pisces season. The Dry January challenge comes to a close — but that doesn’t mean our sobriety has to end. A new month brings a new challenge to change our relationship with alcohol. Perhaps you fit into one of the following categories:

  • You had a great time with the Dry January challenge and want to keep the momentum going.
  • You completed the Damp January challenge and you want to take it to the next level.
  • You slipped up during January and you’re looking to get back on track.
  • You missed Dry January all together and you’re looking for a reason to challenge yourself.

If any of these apply to you, you’re in the right place! Read on to learn about all the benefits of a sober February. 

What Is Dry February?

You’ve probably heard of Dry January — the challenge to go the whole month of January without drinking alcohol. The Dry January challenge started in the UK in 2013 as a way to reset and reflect on our drinking habits after the holiday season. The movement quickly spread across the globe, inspiring other month-long sobriety challenges like Sober October and Dry July.

The Dry February challenge is a way to continue that momentum — and it’s highly effective at forming a more permanent habit. It’s also a way to get back on track if our Dry or Damp January plans didn’t quite go as planned. Whatever the case, there are plenty of reasons to try out an alcohol-free February!

Wait, Did You Say Damp January?

Yes! Damp (or Dry-ish) January is a challenge to cut back on alcohol and develop mindfulness about our drinking habits. For those of us who find Dry January a bit too restrictive, Damp January is an excellent way to take stock of the role alcohol plays in our life. A Damp January can take many forms: setting a drink budget for the week, creating boundaries about which days and places we choose to drink, or incorporating more sober days into our week.

Together, the Damp and Dry January challenges are a great way to start the year with an intention of self-care. But changing our relationship with alcohol isn’t something that has to end just because January is over. Continuing into a Dry February offers even more benefits — and as the shortest month of the year, it’s even easier to make it to the end.

Let’s take a look at Dry February’s benefits!

Physical Health Benefits

Physical health is one of the first things to improve when we cut out the booze. After just a few days without drinking, our inflammation levels go down, we get better sleep, and our heart starts to recover. After a whole month? The benefits only become more striking.

  • Healthier liver. After a month without alcohol, the liver gets a total makeover. It becomes more efficient at filtering out contaminants, converting food to nutrients, and storing vitamins and minerals. And the risk of liver disease drops dramatically after just one month without drinking!
  • Stronger immune system. Now that the liver is better at converting our food to nutrients, our immune system is getting the fuel it needs to function optimally.
  • Happy heart. Alcohol really does a number on our heart. From the seesaw of depressant-stimulant effects to raising blood pressure, booze is just plain bad news for heart health. After a month without alcohol, our blood pressure starts to regulate and our heart has time to catch up on necessary repairs. We also dramatically cut our risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AFib), a type of arrhythmia.
  • Better skin. Now that we’re not so dehydrated from alcohol, we have clearer skin, less acne, reduced rosacea, and a nice healthy glow.
  • Deeper sleep. This is perhaps the most noticeable difference. After even a few days without alcohol, our sleep improves. One whole month alcohol-free lets us pay back our sleep debt and regulate our circadian rhythm.
  • Reduced cancer risk. Alcohol is linked to several types of cancer, including gastrointestinal cancer, breast cancer, mouth and throat cancer, and liver cancer, among others.

It’s hard to argue with the physical benefits of going a month without alcohol. Every month we stay sober, these benefits increase.

But there are so many more benefits to parlaying a Dry January into a Dry February — including some that really start to show up in the second month of sobriety.

Mental and Emotional Health Benefits

Alcohol’s most profound effects are on our mental health, even if those effects don’t seem as obvious as the physical ones. Alcohol alters both our central nervous system (CNS) and our neurotransmitters’ functionality. After prolonged or excessive use, our brain chemicals lose their balance trying to adjust to the frequent presence of alcohol.

Mental health recovers more slowly because the brain’s balancing act with neurotransmitters is pretty precarious — chemical imbalances occur even without the presence of alcohol. One thing is for sure, though: alcohol increases our risk of anxiety and depression.

Let’s take a look at how another month without alcohol can benefit our brains.

  • Mood improvements. Serotonin is a mood-regulating neurotransmitter. About 95% of the serotonin in our body is produced in the gut; when we have a flourishing gut microbiome, we have a flourishing serotonin factory. Now that our liver is delivering more nutrients to our gut, this microbiome gets healthier and happier each day.
  • Focus and attention. Alcohol acts very strongly on a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This “feel-good” chemical is associated with our rewards circuit and our ability to focus. When we drink regularly, our brain makes less dopamine; after we stop drinking, we feel less pleasure and develop a bit of a brain fog. After a couple months without drinking, that fog clears and our good moments feel even better.
  • Social health. With a clearer mind and improved mood, we can deepen our friendships and connect with our loved ones in new ways. Sobriety also improves our romantic relationships — spending booze-free time together paves the way for a more authentic connection.
  • Stronger emotional resilience. Emotional resilience is our ability to handle everyday stressors and bounce back after major events. Many people drink alcohol to cope, but this is just a band-aid — it’s not an effective coping strategy, and it doesn’t actually help us deal with these events. Developing emotional resilience lets us roll with the punches and keep our heads up.

Our mental and physical health improve each day we stay sober. But wait — that’s not all! There’s one more important part of our life that just keeps getting better the longer we stay away from alcohol.

Financial Health

Alcohol is a big expense; bars are expensive, bottles are expensive, and we also pay indirectly through the poor decisions we make while intoxicated. When we remove booze from our lives, we add money to our pockets.

  • Bye-bye bar tabs. Bar tabs really do make it so much easier, right? Who wants to pay each time they need a refill? Well, that reasoning holds until it's time to close out — and by then, we may not even care how big our tab is. Fortunately, staying sober has many financial perks. Bars often make alcohol-free drinks at no cost as a way to incentivize designated drivers. And don’t forget about mocktails; most bars can make a variety of interesting non-alcoholic concoctions, or they may even serve non-alcoholic beers, wines, or spirits.
  • No more expensive bottles. Those fancy bottles may look nice on the liquor store shelves, but they carry a heavy price tag. When we eliminate alcohol, we can refocus that cash on something that serves us: a hobby, a nice meal, a vacation fund, or maybe a spa day. 
  • Lower restaurant bills. Cut out the cocktails or that fancy bottle of wine, and your date just got a whole lot cheaper. Take the cash you would have spent on drinks and repurpose it into another experience — one that you’ll remember!
  • Fewer impulse buys. We’re all guilty of it: making that one silly purchase after we’ve been drinking. Maybe we bought a round of drinks for everyone, or maybe we received a mysterious package one day only to find out we had started buying items from our wish list one drunken evening. With a clear head, reason prevails. Besides, with less money spent on alcohol, we might just be able to afford some of those wish list purchases!

The benefits of a sober February are plentiful. We thrive emotionally, we’re secure in our bodies, and we enjoy more financial security.

So how can we get through Dry February successfully and achieve our physical, mental, and financial health goals? Let’s take action!

Tips for a Successful Sober February

Here’s the thing: Dry Feb. will look different for everyone. And that's okay! Wherever we start from, February is a great time to deepen our commitment to ourselves and keep our year on track. Let’s look at a few tips for thriving in sobriety this February.

  • Set realistic goals. Be honest with yourself about where your relationship with alcohol is. If you think going completely dry feels too intimidating, you’re not alone. It can be scary — but don’t set yourself up for failure. Every step you take toward improving your relationship with alcohol is a positive one, even if that means making your February a little “damp.”
  • Identify motivators. What’s going to keep you going during your Dry February challenge? Maybe it’s your kids, or your spouse, or your parents. Maybe you want to lose weight or improve your health. Maybe it’s just saving money. Whatever it is, identify it and track how this part of your life is improving throughout the month.
  • Track drinking. Motivations aren’t the only thing that benefits from tracking. By tracking your alcohol intake, you can start to get an honest picture of your drinking habits so you have a baseline to start cutting back from. If you’ve never tracked your drinks before, you may be in for a surprise! In March, reflect on the month and see your numbers get consistently smaller (or 28 days of big fat zeros!) — proof that you’ve met your goal.
  • Be mindful. This is an excellent time to start a mindfulness practice. Whether that’s sipping mindfully through a Damp February or developing self-awareness about the changes you see on your sobriety journey, taking time to slow down and check in with yourself can really help you reconnect with your life.
  • Find new hobbies. With the extra time and money you’re not spending on alcohol, you have the opportunity to pick up that hobby you’ve always wanted to try. When you replace alcohol with something concrete, you’ll be able to look back from March with a whole new skill.
  • Seek support. Support networks are essential on the journey to sobriety. Consider enlisting some friends or family members in the challenge or connecting with a support group. The Reframe app offers live meetings multiple times per day and has a 24/7 forum of people at various places in their sobriety journeys. Professional help is also beneficial for identifying patterns and developing healthier coping skills.
  • Go for mocktails. Most great cocktails have non-alcoholic counterparts that taste just as delicious without the negative effects of alcohol. Explore the world of mocktails or treat your liver to a spa day with delicious detox drinks. There’s a whole world of flavor to explore!
  • Focus on self-care. Be kind and gentle with yourself during this time. There may be times when it feels hard to stick to your goal — by cultivating a practice of self-care, you can find ways to reward yourself and celebrate small victories in ways that are meaningful to you.

Final Thoughts

Wherever we are in our journey, the Dry February challenge is one more opportunity to continue down the path to sobriety. We know how good it is for us, and challenging ourselves to stay dry is a radical act of self-love. Let’s show up for ourselves in February and keep the ball rolling into March!

Ah, love is in the air. Aquarius season evolves into Pisces season. The Dry January challenge comes to a close — but that doesn’t mean our sobriety has to end. A new month brings a new challenge to change our relationship with alcohol. Perhaps you fit into one of the following categories:

  • You had a great time with the Dry January challenge and want to keep the momentum going.
  • You completed the Damp January challenge and you want to take it to the next level.
  • You slipped up during January and you’re looking to get back on track.
  • You missed Dry January all together and you’re looking for a reason to challenge yourself.

If any of these apply to you, you’re in the right place! Read on to learn about all the benefits of a sober February. 

What Is Dry February?

You’ve probably heard of Dry January — the challenge to go the whole month of January without drinking alcohol. The Dry January challenge started in the UK in 2013 as a way to reset and reflect on our drinking habits after the holiday season. The movement quickly spread across the globe, inspiring other month-long sobriety challenges like Sober October and Dry July.

The Dry February challenge is a way to continue that momentum — and it’s highly effective at forming a more permanent habit. It’s also a way to get back on track if our Dry or Damp January plans didn’t quite go as planned. Whatever the case, there are plenty of reasons to try out an alcohol-free February!

Wait, Did You Say Damp January?

Yes! Damp (or Dry-ish) January is a challenge to cut back on alcohol and develop mindfulness about our drinking habits. For those of us who find Dry January a bit too restrictive, Damp January is an excellent way to take stock of the role alcohol plays in our life. A Damp January can take many forms: setting a drink budget for the week, creating boundaries about which days and places we choose to drink, or incorporating more sober days into our week.

Together, the Damp and Dry January challenges are a great way to start the year with an intention of self-care. But changing our relationship with alcohol isn’t something that has to end just because January is over. Continuing into a Dry February offers even more benefits — and as the shortest month of the year, it’s even easier to make it to the end.

Let’s take a look at Dry February’s benefits!

Physical Health Benefits

Physical health is one of the first things to improve when we cut out the booze. After just a few days without drinking, our inflammation levels go down, we get better sleep, and our heart starts to recover. After a whole month? The benefits only become more striking.

  • Healthier liver. After a month without alcohol, the liver gets a total makeover. It becomes more efficient at filtering out contaminants, converting food to nutrients, and storing vitamins and minerals. And the risk of liver disease drops dramatically after just one month without drinking!
  • Stronger immune system. Now that the liver is better at converting our food to nutrients, our immune system is getting the fuel it needs to function optimally.
  • Happy heart. Alcohol really does a number on our heart. From the seesaw of depressant-stimulant effects to raising blood pressure, booze is just plain bad news for heart health. After a month without alcohol, our blood pressure starts to regulate and our heart has time to catch up on necessary repairs. We also dramatically cut our risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AFib), a type of arrhythmia.
  • Better skin. Now that we’re not so dehydrated from alcohol, we have clearer skin, less acne, reduced rosacea, and a nice healthy glow.
  • Deeper sleep. This is perhaps the most noticeable difference. After even a few days without alcohol, our sleep improves. One whole month alcohol-free lets us pay back our sleep debt and regulate our circadian rhythm.
  • Reduced cancer risk. Alcohol is linked to several types of cancer, including gastrointestinal cancer, breast cancer, mouth and throat cancer, and liver cancer, among others.

It’s hard to argue with the physical benefits of going a month without alcohol. Every month we stay sober, these benefits increase.

But there are so many more benefits to parlaying a Dry January into a Dry February — including some that really start to show up in the second month of sobriety.

Mental and Emotional Health Benefits

Alcohol’s most profound effects are on our mental health, even if those effects don’t seem as obvious as the physical ones. Alcohol alters both our central nervous system (CNS) and our neurotransmitters’ functionality. After prolonged or excessive use, our brain chemicals lose their balance trying to adjust to the frequent presence of alcohol.

Mental health recovers more slowly because the brain’s balancing act with neurotransmitters is pretty precarious — chemical imbalances occur even without the presence of alcohol. One thing is for sure, though: alcohol increases our risk of anxiety and depression.

Let’s take a look at how another month without alcohol can benefit our brains.

  • Mood improvements. Serotonin is a mood-regulating neurotransmitter. About 95% of the serotonin in our body is produced in the gut; when we have a flourishing gut microbiome, we have a flourishing serotonin factory. Now that our liver is delivering more nutrients to our gut, this microbiome gets healthier and happier each day.
  • Focus and attention. Alcohol acts very strongly on a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This “feel-good” chemical is associated with our rewards circuit and our ability to focus. When we drink regularly, our brain makes less dopamine; after we stop drinking, we feel less pleasure and develop a bit of a brain fog. After a couple months without drinking, that fog clears and our good moments feel even better.
  • Social health. With a clearer mind and improved mood, we can deepen our friendships and connect with our loved ones in new ways. Sobriety also improves our romantic relationships — spending booze-free time together paves the way for a more authentic connection.
  • Stronger emotional resilience. Emotional resilience is our ability to handle everyday stressors and bounce back after major events. Many people drink alcohol to cope, but this is just a band-aid — it’s not an effective coping strategy, and it doesn’t actually help us deal with these events. Developing emotional resilience lets us roll with the punches and keep our heads up.

Our mental and physical health improve each day we stay sober. But wait — that’s not all! There’s one more important part of our life that just keeps getting better the longer we stay away from alcohol.

Financial Health

Alcohol is a big expense; bars are expensive, bottles are expensive, and we also pay indirectly through the poor decisions we make while intoxicated. When we remove booze from our lives, we add money to our pockets.

  • Bye-bye bar tabs. Bar tabs really do make it so much easier, right? Who wants to pay each time they need a refill? Well, that reasoning holds until it's time to close out — and by then, we may not even care how big our tab is. Fortunately, staying sober has many financial perks. Bars often make alcohol-free drinks at no cost as a way to incentivize designated drivers. And don’t forget about mocktails; most bars can make a variety of interesting non-alcoholic concoctions, or they may even serve non-alcoholic beers, wines, or spirits.
  • No more expensive bottles. Those fancy bottles may look nice on the liquor store shelves, but they carry a heavy price tag. When we eliminate alcohol, we can refocus that cash on something that serves us: a hobby, a nice meal, a vacation fund, or maybe a spa day. 
  • Lower restaurant bills. Cut out the cocktails or that fancy bottle of wine, and your date just got a whole lot cheaper. Take the cash you would have spent on drinks and repurpose it into another experience — one that you’ll remember!
  • Fewer impulse buys. We’re all guilty of it: making that one silly purchase after we’ve been drinking. Maybe we bought a round of drinks for everyone, or maybe we received a mysterious package one day only to find out we had started buying items from our wish list one drunken evening. With a clear head, reason prevails. Besides, with less money spent on alcohol, we might just be able to afford some of those wish list purchases!

The benefits of a sober February are plentiful. We thrive emotionally, we’re secure in our bodies, and we enjoy more financial security.

So how can we get through Dry February successfully and achieve our physical, mental, and financial health goals? Let’s take action!

Tips for a Successful Sober February

Here’s the thing: Dry Feb. will look different for everyone. And that's okay! Wherever we start from, February is a great time to deepen our commitment to ourselves and keep our year on track. Let’s look at a few tips for thriving in sobriety this February.

  • Set realistic goals. Be honest with yourself about where your relationship with alcohol is. If you think going completely dry feels too intimidating, you’re not alone. It can be scary — but don’t set yourself up for failure. Every step you take toward improving your relationship with alcohol is a positive one, even if that means making your February a little “damp.”
  • Identify motivators. What’s going to keep you going during your Dry February challenge? Maybe it’s your kids, or your spouse, or your parents. Maybe you want to lose weight or improve your health. Maybe it’s just saving money. Whatever it is, identify it and track how this part of your life is improving throughout the month.
  • Track drinking. Motivations aren’t the only thing that benefits from tracking. By tracking your alcohol intake, you can start to get an honest picture of your drinking habits so you have a baseline to start cutting back from. If you’ve never tracked your drinks before, you may be in for a surprise! In March, reflect on the month and see your numbers get consistently smaller (or 28 days of big fat zeros!) — proof that you’ve met your goal.
  • Be mindful. This is an excellent time to start a mindfulness practice. Whether that’s sipping mindfully through a Damp February or developing self-awareness about the changes you see on your sobriety journey, taking time to slow down and check in with yourself can really help you reconnect with your life.
  • Find new hobbies. With the extra time and money you’re not spending on alcohol, you have the opportunity to pick up that hobby you’ve always wanted to try. When you replace alcohol with something concrete, you’ll be able to look back from March with a whole new skill.
  • Seek support. Support networks are essential on the journey to sobriety. Consider enlisting some friends or family members in the challenge or connecting with a support group. The Reframe app offers live meetings multiple times per day and has a 24/7 forum of people at various places in their sobriety journeys. Professional help is also beneficial for identifying patterns and developing healthier coping skills.
  • Go for mocktails. Most great cocktails have non-alcoholic counterparts that taste just as delicious without the negative effects of alcohol. Explore the world of mocktails or treat your liver to a spa day with delicious detox drinks. There’s a whole world of flavor to explore!
  • Focus on self-care. Be kind and gentle with yourself during this time. There may be times when it feels hard to stick to your goal — by cultivating a practice of self-care, you can find ways to reward yourself and celebrate small victories in ways that are meaningful to you.

Final Thoughts

Wherever we are in our journey, the Dry February challenge is one more opportunity to continue down the path to sobriety. We know how good it is for us, and challenging ourselves to stay dry is a radical act of self-love. Let’s show up for ourselves in February and keep the ball rolling into March!

Summary FAQs

1. What are the benefits of a sober February?

After a month of sobriety, expect to have better health, improved mood, and healthier finances. If you’ve already completed the Dry or Damp January challenge, another month will only compound the benefits you’ve already seen!

2. What are the physical health benefits of Dry February?

After a Dry February, you’ll enjoy better sleep, lower blood pressure, less inflammation, stronger immune response, better skin, and reduced cancer risk.

3. What are the mental health benefits of Dry February?

A booze-free month improves our mood, increases our ability to focus, strengthens our social bonds, and helps us develop constructive coping skills that make it easier to deal with life’s every day ups and downs.

4. Is it possible to celebrate Valentine’s Day without alcohol?

Absolutely! There are so many ways to connect with a romantic partner on Valentine’s Day, and doing it sober will foster a deeper and more authentic connection.

5. Does Dry February work?

Yes! Expanding a Dry January challenge into February works for many people, even celebrities. New habits form after a few weeks, and they only get stronger the longer we practice. When you keep the ball rolling, you may just be surprised how much you don’t miss alcohol.

Stay Dry and Thrive With Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help us cut back on drinking gradually with 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 to survive drinking less and thrive while navigating the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet hundreds 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 constantly 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 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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