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January 2024 calendar with a message, Stay Sober, highlighting the significance of Dry January
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Mastering the Dry January Challenge 2024: A Step-by-Step Guide to Success

Published:
November 8, 2023
·
36 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.
November 8, 2023
·
36 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.
November 8, 2023
·
36 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
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.
November 8, 2023
·
36 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Reframe Content Team
November 8, 2023
·
36 min read

The New Year brings many promises — a chance to start fresh, to leave old habits behind, and to reinvent ourselves in ways big and small. Some of us may set lofty goals, only to abandon them a few weeks in. It’s a common occurrence, but frustrating nonetheless. 

If you’re reading this, you’re likely interested in achieving a big goal yourself, one related to your alcohol consumption. Dry January has gained tremendous traction in the past decade, and for good reason. This challenge comes with many mental and physical health benefits. It also comes with support and camaraderie, as millions of people from all corners of the world collectively commit to quitting alcohol for 31 days.

But like any New Year’s goal, Dry January comes with its own potential for setbacks and lack of motivation. However, with the right preparation, we can combat these issues and ensure our success. Let’s delve into the major benefits of the Dry January challenge, which can serve as our motivation in tough times. We’ll also share useful tips to complete Dry January with confidence!

What Is Dry January?

“Dry January” seems to be a buzzword come wintertime, but what does it really mean? And when did it get started?

The origins of this alcohol-free month can be traced back to 2013, when the British non-profit Alcohol Change UK introduced the concept of it. The organization’s goal was to kickstart the year by encouraging people to reflect on their drinking habits and reset after holiday indulgences.

Though there were some setbacks in the beginning, Dry January eventually rose in popularity. Especially given the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram, the general public soon became aware of this global movement to rethink drinking habits. 

January 2024 calendar with a message, Stay Sober, highlighting the significance of Dry January

What began as a British-centric movement resonated with people in all corners of the world. By 2023, millions of people worldwide took part in Dry January, whether as first-timers or seasoned participants. This challenge’s overwhelming success has led to similar initiatives throughout the year, the most popular being "Sober October." 

Does Dry January Really Work?

It sounds nice in theory, but an entire month without alcohol?! Does it really work? It does, in fact, and statistics support this. In 2018, Alcohol Change UK conducted a survey among people who’d completed the Dry January challenge. The results found that a staggering 88% of participants saved money, 71% had better sleep, and 58% lost weight. Moreover, 80% felt more in control of their drinking habits and 70% reported improved overall health. Long story short: Dry January works!

How To Do a Dry January Challenge

So, how can we get started? What are the rules of Dry January? Well, the good news is that there are no hard-and-fast guidelines for participating, aside from remaining alcohol-free for 31 days. Whether this is done more casually in a group of friends, or with the support of apps like Reframe, is entirely up to the participant. Here are a couple of options on how to take part in Dry January.

  • Solo. The first option is to take part in Dry January on your own. While this seems straightforward enough, it may actually be the most difficult, as it lacks the structure and accountability that many need to succeed. If you feel comfortable and confident in being able to complete the challenge on your own, definitely go for it. However, don’t discount the importance of community and structured guidance.

  • In a group. There’s also the option to participate with a group of friends, acquaintances, or colleagues. You might consider starting a group message for everyone to check in and cheer each other on. This method comes with accountability, as you’ll be less tempted to drink when there are others to report back to. 

  • With the support of an app like Reframe. We blend together the solo and group options — so you can complete the challenge on your own, or in a virtual team of other Reframers. It’s up to you! This approach comes with a higher level of accountability, engagement (we offer daily activities such as articles about alcohol’s effects, journal prompts for reflection, and inspirational quotes). You’ll also have access to the Reframe forum to connect with others when you need a boost of motivation.

What Are the Benefits of Dry January? 

An alcohol-free month isn’t just about abstaining from our usual nightcap or post-work beer. By the end of the 31 days, we’ll likely experience several physical and mental health benefits. In fact, a 2015 report from the Royal Free Hospital in London found that Dry January participants experienced significant reductions in liver fat, weight, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels. 

Furthermore, according to statistics of Dry January 2023 from the Reframe app, 74.02% of participants stayed dry. And 75.9% of Damp January participants (which we’ll mention further below) considered their challenge successful. “Success,” in this context, meant improvements in sleep, mental clarity, blood pressure, and various aspects of well-being. 

Let’s take a look at these and explore what a Dry January challenge can do for your body.

Dry January Physical Health Improvements

Here are several possible physical health improvements we’ll encounter at the end of the Dry January challenge.

Skin Benefits

First impressions count, and our skin plays a pivotal role. As the body's largest organ, it’s also the first to reveal what's happening on the inside. Here's a deeper look into how going dry can give your skin that sought-after glow:

  • Better hydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it encourages the body to lose water, leading to dehydration. Dehydrated skin can appear flaky, tight, and more prone to fine lines. By skipping the booze, we can maintain our skin’s natural moisture balance, giving it a plump, hydrated appearance.
  • Fewer breakouts. Alcohol can lead to a hormone imbalance, which might result in breakouts. For many, drinking can trigger rosacea or exacerbate other existing conditions due to its inflammatory effects. By taking a break, we’re allowing our skin to maintain its natural balance, reducing the chances of zits and redness.
  • Vitamin boost. Alcohol can hinder the absorption of vital vitamins and antioxidants, particularly vitamin A, which plays a crucial role in cell renewal and turnover. This vitamin helps your skin stay smooth and rejuvenated. Without alcohol, our body can absorb this essential nutrient more effectively, leading to brighter and healthier skin.
  • Reduced puffiness. Alcohol can cause facial swelling and puffiness by dilating the blood vessels and making them more prone to breakage. An alcohol-free month can reduce this effect, making the face appear more contoured and fresh.
  • Better collagen production. Alcohol interferes with collagen production, and a month without booze can lead to a visible reduction in fine lines and wrinkles.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is a common New Year’s resolution. As we embrace healthier living, many of us look for ways to shed our extra pounds and gain a fitter physique. A Dry January can help!

It’s not a magical weight loss solution, but a month off booze can undoubtedly set the stage for healthier habits and choices. As the weeks roll on, don't be surprised if you find the scale reflecting the change! 

  • Empty calories. Alcohol is filled with empty calories that provide little to no nutritional benefit. A glass of wine can contain anywhere from 120 to 130 calories, while a pint of beer might set us back around 150-200 calories. Cocktails? Those can go upwards of 500 calories, depending on the mixers and additives.

    Over a month, these numbers add up significantly. Simply saying no to a nightly glass of wine for a month can save up to 2,000 calories, and for those of us who drink more, the results can be even more dramatic. 
  • Snacking slip-ups. Let’s be honest — after a few drinks, that cheesy pizza or greasy burger suddenly seems a lot more appealing. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and decision-making capabilities, making us more likely to give in to unhealthy cravings. A sober month gives us a better chance to make nutritious food choices consistently.
  • Sluggish metabolism. Alcohol can interfere with our body's ability to burn fat. When we drink, our body prioritizes metabolizing alcohol over other energy sources, leading to glitches in our energy-burning processes. This is often the cause behind the common “beer belly” or “wine belly.”  With booze out of the picture, our metabolism can function more efficiently, targeting our stored fat for energy.
  • Reduced water retention. Alcohol can cause us to retain water, which often leads to bloating. As we cut out alcohol, our body naturally balances out its water content, reducing bloat. No more tight rings and shoes! 
  • Mindful eating. Without alcohol clouding our judgment, we’re more likely to be in tune with our body's actual hunger and satiety cues. This mindfulness can lead to better portion control, a deeper appreciation for the quality of food, and a more conscious approach to mealtimes.

Sleep Health

Research has shown that while alcohol might help us fall asleep, it negatively affects the quality of our slumber. When we provide our bodies with a conducive environment for rest, sleep becomes a genuinely restorative experience. Dry January can enhance sleep quality in different ways. 

  • Restoring REM sleep. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is a crucial sleep stage; that’s when we dream and our brain processes and stores memories. Alcohol, however, can delay the onset of REM sleep and reduce the amount we get. Without alcohol, you're giving your brain a better shot at this essential restorative phase, which often means waking up feeling more refreshed and sharp-minded.
  • Fewer nighttime wake-ups. Alcohol can lead to fragmented sleep, causing us to wake up multiple times. Cutting it out can lead to fewer disruptions and a more sound, continuous sleep.
  • Breathe easier. Alcohol can relax the muscles of the throat and obstruct the throat, exacerbating snoring or sleep apnea. Without it, we (and potentially our partners) experience quieter, more peaceful nights.
  • Balanced body temperature. Alcohol can mess with our body's thermostat. Initially, it might make us feel warm, but as the night progresses, it can lead to a drop in core body temperature. This fluctuation can disrupt the body's ability to sustain a comfortable sleeping environment. By skipping the drinks, we’re helping our bodies maintain a stable temperature, which is more conducive to good sleep.
  • No more next-day grogginess. We've all experienced the dreaded "hangover haze" after a night of overindulgence. That grogginess, headache, and lethargy can ruin an entire day. During Dry January, as our sleep quality improves, our mornings are likely to get brighter, clearer, and more productive.

Improved Body Functions

  • A healthier liver. Drinking too much, especially over time, is linked to fatty liver disease, a condition in which excess fat builds up within the liver. Fatty liver disease is often precursor to more severe liver conditions, including cirrhosis and liver failure. Going alcohol-free for a month gives the liver a break, leading to a decrease in liver fat, rejuvenated liver cells, and more efficient functioning. 
  • A stronger heart. High alcohol consumption may also elevate cholesterol levels, particularly the harmful LDL cholesterol, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. By eliminating alcohol for a month, we can often observe a noticeable decrease in cholesterol levels. When sustained over time, this promotes better cardiovascular health, reducing our risk of stroke and heart attacks. Additionally, alcohol is known to elevate blood pressure, so quitting drinking for a month allows it to stabilize, thus also promoting heart health.

  • Stabler blood sugar. Alcohol impairs our body's blood sugar regulation. When we drink alcohol, our blood sugar is prone to more dramatic spikes and drops, which is particularly concerning for those living with diabetes. Abstaining for a month improves insulin function and fosters stable blood sugar levels. When healthy drinking habits are sustained, we reduce our risk of type 2 diabetes and its associated complications.
  • Improved hydration and kidney function. Alcohol is a diuretic that causes increased urine output, which can result in dehydration. Over time, this places a heavier burden on our kidneys, which work hard to filter our bodily fluids and maintain balance. Additionally, hydration plays a key role in other areas of well-being, from skin health to the functioning of vital organs. Quitting alcohol for a month allows our bodies to maintain better hydration levels, supporting kidney function and overall health.

  • A robust immune system. Regular alcohol consumption hinders our immune system's responsiveness, making our body more infection-prone. This not only means more frequent colds, but can even result in respiratory infections, UTIs, and worsened symptoms for those with autoimmune diseases. Quitting alcohol for a month strengthens our body's innate defense mechanisms, ensuring we’re in a better state to fight illnesses.

Dry January Mental Health Benefits

While alcohol is commonly portrayed in the media as a way to “relax and unwind,” it actually worsens our mental health in the long run. This may trigger, or exacerbate, conditions such as anxiety and depression. By ditching the booze for even a month, we’ll likely experience many positive changes in our mental well-being. 

Here’s a quick look at the science behind this improvement. 

  • Neurotransmitter balance. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine are our brain’s chemical messengers. They play a key role in mental well-being, and having levels that are too high or too low can manifest as issues with emotion regulation and moodiness. Alcohol disrupts neurotransmitter balance, which can lead to sadness, hopelessness, or anxiety. Abstaining allows our brain to recalibrate and restore these chemicals to their natural levels, paving the way for mood improvements.
  • Stronger stress response. Regular alcohol consumption elevates the body's stress response, increasing the production of cortisol (known as the "stress hormone”). Elevated cortisol levels are connected to mood disturbances and feelings of tension. A 31-day break from alcohol can normalize this response, fostering a more balanced emotional state.
  • Boosted cognitive function and mental clarity. Alcohol impairs cognitive functions, clouding judgment and reducing our brain's processing capabilities. Drinking can also impact our memory and concentration. A month-long hiatus from alcohol may significantly enhance mental clarity, making daily tasks easier (whether at work or at home) and improving overall cognitive efficiency.

Dry January Financial Benefits 

Tallying up the cost of every drink we have in a month can be a real eye-opener. Give up alcohol for 31 days, and we’re likely to save a decent chunk of change. Think about the treats or experiences to splurge on instead — maybe a weekend getaway or a fancy dinner?

The financial freedom gained from participating in Dry January can be a game-changer for many. Let's break down the financial wins of an alcohol-free month.

  • The direct savings. It’s straightforward math. If someone is in the habit of buying a $7 beer or a $10 cocktail a few times a week, the numbers add up quickly. Over a month, even a moderate drinker can save upwards of $100. And if they also occasionally splurge on a pricier bottle of wine or whiskey, the savings can be even greater.
  • No more impulse purchases. We've all been there: a night out with a bit too much to drink, and suddenly, ordering that unnecessary late-night snack or buying that “must-have” online item seems like a fabulous idea. Alcohol can impair judgment and lead to spontaneous, often regrettable, purchases. By taking a break, these unplanned expenses become less frequent.
  • Fewer dining out expenses. Alcohol often accompanies social outings, whether we’re dining at restaurants, hitting up the local bar, or checking out the new club downtown. While the experience is fun, it comes with a cost. Drinks at such venues often have a hefty markup. By opting for non-alcoholic outings or choosing alcohol-free beverages, we can significantly reduce our bills.
  • Reduced long-term health costs. Regular drinking can lead to various health issues down the line, from liver ailments to digestive troubles. Cutting back or quitting can potentially cut down future medical bills and the associated costs of alcohol-related health checks.

A Timeline of Dry January 

Dry January starts the first day of January of each year and ends at the end of the month, typically lasting four weeks. One of the most exciting aspects of Dry January is that it only gets better, as each week brings new revelations and health benefits to keep us invested in the journey. The body's incredible ability to heal and recalibrate itself when given a break from alcohol is nothing short of fascinating. 

Let's explore the week-by-week health transformations we can anticipate.

Week 1: Detox Begins

  • Liver recovery starts. The liver works tirelessly to remove toxins, including alcohol, which can take a toll on its condition. In this first week without booze, it starts its natural recovery process.
  • Sleep transformation begins. As highlighted earlier, sleep patterns begin to normalize, leading to deeper, more restorative rest.
  • Hydration boost. Without the diuretic effects of alcohol, the body retains water better. This means more hydration for body cells, leading to healthier skin and better overall functioning.

Week 2: Energy and Clarity

  • Spike in energy. With improved sleep and reduced toxin levels, many people report a noticeable surge in their energy levels. This means feeling less lethargic during the day and having more vitality to tackle daily tasks.
  • Mental sharpness. Without booze, brain function restores rapidly. Cognitive tasks become easier, memory improves, and brain fog starts to lift.
  • Digestion improves. Alcohol can irritate the digestive system. Without it, we might notice reduced bloating, more regular bowel movements, and an overall happier gut.

Week 3: Physical and Mental Harmony

  • Reduced inflammation. Alcohol can cause inflammation in the body. By week three, this inflammation begins to decrease, leading to less joint pain and an overall sense of physical well-being.
  • Mood stabilization. Alcohol affects neurotransmitters in the brain, often leading to mood swings. Without it, many people regain emotional stability and find that their anxiety and depressive symptoms decrease. 
  • Boosted immunity. Alcohol can suppress the immune system. A break allows our immune function to bounce back, preparing us to fend off infections.

Week 4: Long-Term Benefits Kickstart

  • Heart health. Prolonged alcohol use can raise blood pressure and contribute to heart disease. Even just a month off can start lowering these risks, as blood pressure stabilizes and cardiovascular health begins to improve.
  • Better relationship with alcohol. Experiencing the benefits of an alcohol-free month can reshape our perspective on drinking. Many people find they drink less frequently or in reduced amounts after Dry January, having recognized the clear benefits of moderation.


Alternatives for Dry January

So, what if you’re not quite ready to go fully dry — but you’d still like to participate? Well, this is exactly why we at Reframe have modified the Dry January to account for people who are looking to cut back on alcohol. Consider it a Dry(ish) January, if you will. 

What is Dry(ish) January? In 2023, we launched our first-ever Damp January, which saw 118,486 sign-ups. Alongside our Dry January challenge, which saw 20,982 sign-ups in 2023, the Damp January challenge is an excellent way to kickstart the year with healthy drinking habits. It doesn’t entail complete abstinence, but instead allows each person to set a reasonable limit for themselves.

For example, if you normally drink every night, you might consider going alcohol-free for three or four days of the week. You may also lower your overall intake by setting daily limits, which you can track and adjust through the app. Reframe is one of the most widely-trusted apps that helps for Dry January challenge success, so consider our program if you’re ready to get started.

Tips To Complete Dry January

Ready to give the Dry January challenge a go? The hardest days of Dry January are the days when you feel a dimming in your motivations and an increase in difficult emotions. We know that Dry January can be a challenge so here are seven ways to ensure your best success. 

  • Discover alcohol-free alternatives. Explore the (tasty!) world of non-alcoholic beverages. From non-alcoholic beers to alcohol-free gins and sophisticated mocktails, there's plenty to sample. You can even check out this guide to 10 DIY mocktail recipes, or explore various alcohol-free beverages that are available at most bars. 

  • Document your journey. Start a journal or a blog (or a vlog!). Note down physical and emotional changes, and any challenges faced. Over time, you’ll pick up on patterns, allowing you to identify areas for further improvement. (Or celebrate wins — big or small!) Sharing your experiences can provide insights and motivation for others who are also participating in Dry January. You may even encourage people to try the challenge for themselves! 

  • Team up. Rally friends or family to join the challenge. Together, you can exchange ideas, share experiences, and motivate each other when the going gets tough. You’ll even find like-minded people when you join Reframe! Our global community is available through the in-app Forum and daily community meetings. There’s plenty of support waiting for you!

  • Educate yourself. Delve into books or documentaries on the impact of alcohol on the body and society. A deeper understanding can fortify your commitment, especially when cravings or peer pressure come up. You can even read about others’ sober stories through books, which will remind you that you’re not alone in the journey. (A search on “quit lit” will turn up many titles; some of them are sure to resonate!)

  • Find healthy distractions. Take up a new hobby or revisit an old one. No matter what it is — painting, reading, puzzling, hiking, or cooking — immersing yourself in an activity can diminish alcohol cravings. You can even challenge yourself to learn something new, like a language, a sport, or a professional skill. 

  • Practice mindfulness. Consider trying meditation or guided mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing or yoga nidra. These activities have been proven to combat stress and build awareness around triggers and cravings. If you don’t know where to start, we have dozens of mindfulness exercises on the Reframe app.

  • Seek support. We acknowledge that the Dry January challenge can be … well, challenging. We’re likely to experience frustrations, emotional difficulties, and moments that test us. Reach out to loved ones or join online communities dedicated to Dry January (like the Reframe Forum!). Sharing experiences and seeking advice can be invaluable.


Dry January: Let’s Make the Most of It!


With every new year, we have an opportunity to reflect, reset, and reimagine our lives. And what better way to start this new chapter than by taking the Dry January pledge? Here's a look at what you can expect and embrace in the upcoming Dry January 2024:

  • A global community. Dry January has grown in leaps and bounds over the years, becoming a worldwide movement. This year, anticipate an even larger global community joining hands (virtually and in person) to support, cheer, and journey together. With the myriad of online forums, support groups, and social media challenges, you're never alone in this endeavor.
  • Rise of sober influencers. The digital world has seen a surge in sober influencers who champion the alcohol-free lifestyle while reaching out to millions with their inspiring stories and sober life hacks. Names like Ruby Warrington, author of Sober Curious, Claire Pooley of The Sober Diaries, and Millie Gooch of Sober Girl Society have taken the internet by storm, providing guidance and creating a space for those seeking an alcohol-free journey.
  • Tech meets sobriety. With advancements in technology, 2024 promises a slew of apps and tools designed to enhance your Dry January experience. Expect features like daily check-ins, mood trackers, health benefit timelines, and even augmented reality games that replace the glass in your hand with fun alternatives.
  • Special events and workshops. Given its growing popularity, many wellness centers, gyms, and community groups will be hosting special Dry January events. From mocktail-making workshops to meditation sessions focusing on sobriety, there's something for everyone. It's not just about removing alcohol — it's about creating meaningful experiences.
  • Spotlight on non-alcoholic alternatives. The beverage industry has taken notice of the Dry January trend. 2024 will see an even wider variety of delectable non-alcoholic beverages hitting the shelves — from craft beers to sophisticated spirit alternatives. This year, going alcohol-free doesn't mean compromising on taste or the pleasure of sipping a well-crafted drink.
  • Personalized journeys. Recognizing that everyone's reasons and experiences with Dry January are unique, there will be an emphasis on personal narratives. Sharing personal stories — through blogs, video diaries, or art — will be a significant trend. It's about celebrating individual milestones while being part of a collective journey.

Dry January can be a transformative experience. While the month might present its set of challenges, the rewards — better health, a clear mind, and a sense of accomplishment — are well worth the effort. And the best part? We can sustain these improvements well beyond January, especially with support from structured programs like the one on the Reframe app. There’s so much to gain by ditching alcohol for 31 days (and possibly even longer!). And the changes we experience can be life-changing, letting us be better parents, partners, friends, and professionals. So why let this opportunity pass us by?

The Dry January challenge is not just about removing alcohol — it’s about enriching your life with new experiences, insights, and habits. Sign on for a brighter, healthier year ahead — and beyond!

The New Year brings many promises — a chance to start fresh, to leave old habits behind, and to reinvent ourselves in ways big and small. Some of us may set lofty goals, only to abandon them a few weeks in. It’s a common occurrence, but frustrating nonetheless. 

If you’re reading this, you’re likely interested in achieving a big goal yourself, one related to your alcohol consumption. Dry January has gained tremendous traction in the past decade, and for good reason. This challenge comes with many mental and physical health benefits. It also comes with support and camaraderie, as millions of people from all corners of the world collectively commit to quitting alcohol for 31 days.

But like any New Year’s goal, Dry January comes with its own potential for setbacks and lack of motivation. However, with the right preparation, we can combat these issues and ensure our success. Let’s delve into the major benefits of the Dry January challenge, which can serve as our motivation in tough times. We’ll also share useful tips to complete Dry January with confidence!

What Is Dry January?

“Dry January” seems to be a buzzword come wintertime, but what does it really mean? And when did it get started?

The origins of this alcohol-free month can be traced back to 2013, when the British non-profit Alcohol Change UK introduced the concept of it. The organization’s goal was to kickstart the year by encouraging people to reflect on their drinking habits and reset after holiday indulgences.

Though there were some setbacks in the beginning, Dry January eventually rose in popularity. Especially given the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram, the general public soon became aware of this global movement to rethink drinking habits. 

January 2024 calendar with a message, Stay Sober, highlighting the significance of Dry January

What began as a British-centric movement resonated with people in all corners of the world. By 2023, millions of people worldwide took part in Dry January, whether as first-timers or seasoned participants. This challenge’s overwhelming success has led to similar initiatives throughout the year, the most popular being "Sober October." 

Does Dry January Really Work?

It sounds nice in theory, but an entire month without alcohol?! Does it really work? It does, in fact, and statistics support this. In 2018, Alcohol Change UK conducted a survey among people who’d completed the Dry January challenge. The results found that a staggering 88% of participants saved money, 71% had better sleep, and 58% lost weight. Moreover, 80% felt more in control of their drinking habits and 70% reported improved overall health. Long story short: Dry January works!

How To Do a Dry January Challenge

So, how can we get started? What are the rules of Dry January? Well, the good news is that there are no hard-and-fast guidelines for participating, aside from remaining alcohol-free for 31 days. Whether this is done more casually in a group of friends, or with the support of apps like Reframe, is entirely up to the participant. Here are a couple of options on how to take part in Dry January.

  • Solo. The first option is to take part in Dry January on your own. While this seems straightforward enough, it may actually be the most difficult, as it lacks the structure and accountability that many need to succeed. If you feel comfortable and confident in being able to complete the challenge on your own, definitely go for it. However, don’t discount the importance of community and structured guidance.

  • In a group. There’s also the option to participate with a group of friends, acquaintances, or colleagues. You might consider starting a group message for everyone to check in and cheer each other on. This method comes with accountability, as you’ll be less tempted to drink when there are others to report back to. 

  • With the support of an app like Reframe. We blend together the solo and group options — so you can complete the challenge on your own, or in a virtual team of other Reframers. It’s up to you! This approach comes with a higher level of accountability, engagement (we offer daily activities such as articles about alcohol’s effects, journal prompts for reflection, and inspirational quotes). You’ll also have access to the Reframe forum to connect with others when you need a boost of motivation.

What Are the Benefits of Dry January? 

An alcohol-free month isn’t just about abstaining from our usual nightcap or post-work beer. By the end of the 31 days, we’ll likely experience several physical and mental health benefits. In fact, a 2015 report from the Royal Free Hospital in London found that Dry January participants experienced significant reductions in liver fat, weight, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels. 

Furthermore, according to statistics of Dry January 2023 from the Reframe app, 74.02% of participants stayed dry. And 75.9% of Damp January participants (which we’ll mention further below) considered their challenge successful. “Success,” in this context, meant improvements in sleep, mental clarity, blood pressure, and various aspects of well-being. 

Let’s take a look at these and explore what a Dry January challenge can do for your body.

Dry January Physical Health Improvements

Here are several possible physical health improvements we’ll encounter at the end of the Dry January challenge.

Skin Benefits

First impressions count, and our skin plays a pivotal role. As the body's largest organ, it’s also the first to reveal what's happening on the inside. Here's a deeper look into how going dry can give your skin that sought-after glow:

  • Better hydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it encourages the body to lose water, leading to dehydration. Dehydrated skin can appear flaky, tight, and more prone to fine lines. By skipping the booze, we can maintain our skin’s natural moisture balance, giving it a plump, hydrated appearance.
  • Fewer breakouts. Alcohol can lead to a hormone imbalance, which might result in breakouts. For many, drinking can trigger rosacea or exacerbate other existing conditions due to its inflammatory effects. By taking a break, we’re allowing our skin to maintain its natural balance, reducing the chances of zits and redness.
  • Vitamin boost. Alcohol can hinder the absorption of vital vitamins and antioxidants, particularly vitamin A, which plays a crucial role in cell renewal and turnover. This vitamin helps your skin stay smooth and rejuvenated. Without alcohol, our body can absorb this essential nutrient more effectively, leading to brighter and healthier skin.
  • Reduced puffiness. Alcohol can cause facial swelling and puffiness by dilating the blood vessels and making them more prone to breakage. An alcohol-free month can reduce this effect, making the face appear more contoured and fresh.
  • Better collagen production. Alcohol interferes with collagen production, and a month without booze can lead to a visible reduction in fine lines and wrinkles.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is a common New Year’s resolution. As we embrace healthier living, many of us look for ways to shed our extra pounds and gain a fitter physique. A Dry January can help!

It’s not a magical weight loss solution, but a month off booze can undoubtedly set the stage for healthier habits and choices. As the weeks roll on, don't be surprised if you find the scale reflecting the change! 

  • Empty calories. Alcohol is filled with empty calories that provide little to no nutritional benefit. A glass of wine can contain anywhere from 120 to 130 calories, while a pint of beer might set us back around 150-200 calories. Cocktails? Those can go upwards of 500 calories, depending on the mixers and additives.

    Over a month, these numbers add up significantly. Simply saying no to a nightly glass of wine for a month can save up to 2,000 calories, and for those of us who drink more, the results can be even more dramatic. 
  • Snacking slip-ups. Let’s be honest — after a few drinks, that cheesy pizza or greasy burger suddenly seems a lot more appealing. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and decision-making capabilities, making us more likely to give in to unhealthy cravings. A sober month gives us a better chance to make nutritious food choices consistently.
  • Sluggish metabolism. Alcohol can interfere with our body's ability to burn fat. When we drink, our body prioritizes metabolizing alcohol over other energy sources, leading to glitches in our energy-burning processes. This is often the cause behind the common “beer belly” or “wine belly.”  With booze out of the picture, our metabolism can function more efficiently, targeting our stored fat for energy.
  • Reduced water retention. Alcohol can cause us to retain water, which often leads to bloating. As we cut out alcohol, our body naturally balances out its water content, reducing bloat. No more tight rings and shoes! 
  • Mindful eating. Without alcohol clouding our judgment, we’re more likely to be in tune with our body's actual hunger and satiety cues. This mindfulness can lead to better portion control, a deeper appreciation for the quality of food, and a more conscious approach to mealtimes.

Sleep Health

Research has shown that while alcohol might help us fall asleep, it negatively affects the quality of our slumber. When we provide our bodies with a conducive environment for rest, sleep becomes a genuinely restorative experience. Dry January can enhance sleep quality in different ways. 

  • Restoring REM sleep. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is a crucial sleep stage; that’s when we dream and our brain processes and stores memories. Alcohol, however, can delay the onset of REM sleep and reduce the amount we get. Without alcohol, you're giving your brain a better shot at this essential restorative phase, which often means waking up feeling more refreshed and sharp-minded.
  • Fewer nighttime wake-ups. Alcohol can lead to fragmented sleep, causing us to wake up multiple times. Cutting it out can lead to fewer disruptions and a more sound, continuous sleep.
  • Breathe easier. Alcohol can relax the muscles of the throat and obstruct the throat, exacerbating snoring or sleep apnea. Without it, we (and potentially our partners) experience quieter, more peaceful nights.
  • Balanced body temperature. Alcohol can mess with our body's thermostat. Initially, it might make us feel warm, but as the night progresses, it can lead to a drop in core body temperature. This fluctuation can disrupt the body's ability to sustain a comfortable sleeping environment. By skipping the drinks, we’re helping our bodies maintain a stable temperature, which is more conducive to good sleep.
  • No more next-day grogginess. We've all experienced the dreaded "hangover haze" after a night of overindulgence. That grogginess, headache, and lethargy can ruin an entire day. During Dry January, as our sleep quality improves, our mornings are likely to get brighter, clearer, and more productive.

Improved Body Functions

  • A healthier liver. Drinking too much, especially over time, is linked to fatty liver disease, a condition in which excess fat builds up within the liver. Fatty liver disease is often precursor to more severe liver conditions, including cirrhosis and liver failure. Going alcohol-free for a month gives the liver a break, leading to a decrease in liver fat, rejuvenated liver cells, and more efficient functioning. 
  • A stronger heart. High alcohol consumption may also elevate cholesterol levels, particularly the harmful LDL cholesterol, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. By eliminating alcohol for a month, we can often observe a noticeable decrease in cholesterol levels. When sustained over time, this promotes better cardiovascular health, reducing our risk of stroke and heart attacks. Additionally, alcohol is known to elevate blood pressure, so quitting drinking for a month allows it to stabilize, thus also promoting heart health.

  • Stabler blood sugar. Alcohol impairs our body's blood sugar regulation. When we drink alcohol, our blood sugar is prone to more dramatic spikes and drops, which is particularly concerning for those living with diabetes. Abstaining for a month improves insulin function and fosters stable blood sugar levels. When healthy drinking habits are sustained, we reduce our risk of type 2 diabetes and its associated complications.
  • Improved hydration and kidney function. Alcohol is a diuretic that causes increased urine output, which can result in dehydration. Over time, this places a heavier burden on our kidneys, which work hard to filter our bodily fluids and maintain balance. Additionally, hydration plays a key role in other areas of well-being, from skin health to the functioning of vital organs. Quitting alcohol for a month allows our bodies to maintain better hydration levels, supporting kidney function and overall health.

  • A robust immune system. Regular alcohol consumption hinders our immune system's responsiveness, making our body more infection-prone. This not only means more frequent colds, but can even result in respiratory infections, UTIs, and worsened symptoms for those with autoimmune diseases. Quitting alcohol for a month strengthens our body's innate defense mechanisms, ensuring we’re in a better state to fight illnesses.

Dry January Mental Health Benefits

While alcohol is commonly portrayed in the media as a way to “relax and unwind,” it actually worsens our mental health in the long run. This may trigger, or exacerbate, conditions such as anxiety and depression. By ditching the booze for even a month, we’ll likely experience many positive changes in our mental well-being. 

Here’s a quick look at the science behind this improvement. 

  • Neurotransmitter balance. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine are our brain’s chemical messengers. They play a key role in mental well-being, and having levels that are too high or too low can manifest as issues with emotion regulation and moodiness. Alcohol disrupts neurotransmitter balance, which can lead to sadness, hopelessness, or anxiety. Abstaining allows our brain to recalibrate and restore these chemicals to their natural levels, paving the way for mood improvements.
  • Stronger stress response. Regular alcohol consumption elevates the body's stress response, increasing the production of cortisol (known as the "stress hormone”). Elevated cortisol levels are connected to mood disturbances and feelings of tension. A 31-day break from alcohol can normalize this response, fostering a more balanced emotional state.
  • Boosted cognitive function and mental clarity. Alcohol impairs cognitive functions, clouding judgment and reducing our brain's processing capabilities. Drinking can also impact our memory and concentration. A month-long hiatus from alcohol may significantly enhance mental clarity, making daily tasks easier (whether at work or at home) and improving overall cognitive efficiency.

Dry January Financial Benefits 

Tallying up the cost of every drink we have in a month can be a real eye-opener. Give up alcohol for 31 days, and we’re likely to save a decent chunk of change. Think about the treats or experiences to splurge on instead — maybe a weekend getaway or a fancy dinner?

The financial freedom gained from participating in Dry January can be a game-changer for many. Let's break down the financial wins of an alcohol-free month.

  • The direct savings. It’s straightforward math. If someone is in the habit of buying a $7 beer or a $10 cocktail a few times a week, the numbers add up quickly. Over a month, even a moderate drinker can save upwards of $100. And if they also occasionally splurge on a pricier bottle of wine or whiskey, the savings can be even greater.
  • No more impulse purchases. We've all been there: a night out with a bit too much to drink, and suddenly, ordering that unnecessary late-night snack or buying that “must-have” online item seems like a fabulous idea. Alcohol can impair judgment and lead to spontaneous, often regrettable, purchases. By taking a break, these unplanned expenses become less frequent.
  • Fewer dining out expenses. Alcohol often accompanies social outings, whether we’re dining at restaurants, hitting up the local bar, or checking out the new club downtown. While the experience is fun, it comes with a cost. Drinks at such venues often have a hefty markup. By opting for non-alcoholic outings or choosing alcohol-free beverages, we can significantly reduce our bills.
  • Reduced long-term health costs. Regular drinking can lead to various health issues down the line, from liver ailments to digestive troubles. Cutting back or quitting can potentially cut down future medical bills and the associated costs of alcohol-related health checks.

A Timeline of Dry January 

Dry January starts the first day of January of each year and ends at the end of the month, typically lasting four weeks. One of the most exciting aspects of Dry January is that it only gets better, as each week brings new revelations and health benefits to keep us invested in the journey. The body's incredible ability to heal and recalibrate itself when given a break from alcohol is nothing short of fascinating. 

Let's explore the week-by-week health transformations we can anticipate.

Week 1: Detox Begins

  • Liver recovery starts. The liver works tirelessly to remove toxins, including alcohol, which can take a toll on its condition. In this first week without booze, it starts its natural recovery process.
  • Sleep transformation begins. As highlighted earlier, sleep patterns begin to normalize, leading to deeper, more restorative rest.
  • Hydration boost. Without the diuretic effects of alcohol, the body retains water better. This means more hydration for body cells, leading to healthier skin and better overall functioning.

Week 2: Energy and Clarity

  • Spike in energy. With improved sleep and reduced toxin levels, many people report a noticeable surge in their energy levels. This means feeling less lethargic during the day and having more vitality to tackle daily tasks.
  • Mental sharpness. Without booze, brain function restores rapidly. Cognitive tasks become easier, memory improves, and brain fog starts to lift.
  • Digestion improves. Alcohol can irritate the digestive system. Without it, we might notice reduced bloating, more regular bowel movements, and an overall happier gut.

Week 3: Physical and Mental Harmony

  • Reduced inflammation. Alcohol can cause inflammation in the body. By week three, this inflammation begins to decrease, leading to less joint pain and an overall sense of physical well-being.
  • Mood stabilization. Alcohol affects neurotransmitters in the brain, often leading to mood swings. Without it, many people regain emotional stability and find that their anxiety and depressive symptoms decrease. 
  • Boosted immunity. Alcohol can suppress the immune system. A break allows our immune function to bounce back, preparing us to fend off infections.

Week 4: Long-Term Benefits Kickstart

  • Heart health. Prolonged alcohol use can raise blood pressure and contribute to heart disease. Even just a month off can start lowering these risks, as blood pressure stabilizes and cardiovascular health begins to improve.
  • Better relationship with alcohol. Experiencing the benefits of an alcohol-free month can reshape our perspective on drinking. Many people find they drink less frequently or in reduced amounts after Dry January, having recognized the clear benefits of moderation.


Alternatives for Dry January

So, what if you’re not quite ready to go fully dry — but you’d still like to participate? Well, this is exactly why we at Reframe have modified the Dry January to account for people who are looking to cut back on alcohol. Consider it a Dry(ish) January, if you will. 

What is Dry(ish) January? In 2023, we launched our first-ever Damp January, which saw 118,486 sign-ups. Alongside our Dry January challenge, which saw 20,982 sign-ups in 2023, the Damp January challenge is an excellent way to kickstart the year with healthy drinking habits. It doesn’t entail complete abstinence, but instead allows each person to set a reasonable limit for themselves.

For example, if you normally drink every night, you might consider going alcohol-free for three or four days of the week. You may also lower your overall intake by setting daily limits, which you can track and adjust through the app. Reframe is one of the most widely-trusted apps that helps for Dry January challenge success, so consider our program if you’re ready to get started.

Tips To Complete Dry January

Ready to give the Dry January challenge a go? The hardest days of Dry January are the days when you feel a dimming in your motivations and an increase in difficult emotions. We know that Dry January can be a challenge so here are seven ways to ensure your best success. 

  • Discover alcohol-free alternatives. Explore the (tasty!) world of non-alcoholic beverages. From non-alcoholic beers to alcohol-free gins and sophisticated mocktails, there's plenty to sample. You can even check out this guide to 10 DIY mocktail recipes, or explore various alcohol-free beverages that are available at most bars. 

  • Document your journey. Start a journal or a blog (or a vlog!). Note down physical and emotional changes, and any challenges faced. Over time, you’ll pick up on patterns, allowing you to identify areas for further improvement. (Or celebrate wins — big or small!) Sharing your experiences can provide insights and motivation for others who are also participating in Dry January. You may even encourage people to try the challenge for themselves! 

  • Team up. Rally friends or family to join the challenge. Together, you can exchange ideas, share experiences, and motivate each other when the going gets tough. You’ll even find like-minded people when you join Reframe! Our global community is available through the in-app Forum and daily community meetings. There’s plenty of support waiting for you!

  • Educate yourself. Delve into books or documentaries on the impact of alcohol on the body and society. A deeper understanding can fortify your commitment, especially when cravings or peer pressure come up. You can even read about others’ sober stories through books, which will remind you that you’re not alone in the journey. (A search on “quit lit” will turn up many titles; some of them are sure to resonate!)

  • Find healthy distractions. Take up a new hobby or revisit an old one. No matter what it is — painting, reading, puzzling, hiking, or cooking — immersing yourself in an activity can diminish alcohol cravings. You can even challenge yourself to learn something new, like a language, a sport, or a professional skill. 

  • Practice mindfulness. Consider trying meditation or guided mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing or yoga nidra. These activities have been proven to combat stress and build awareness around triggers and cravings. If you don’t know where to start, we have dozens of mindfulness exercises on the Reframe app.

  • Seek support. We acknowledge that the Dry January challenge can be … well, challenging. We’re likely to experience frustrations, emotional difficulties, and moments that test us. Reach out to loved ones or join online communities dedicated to Dry January (like the Reframe Forum!). Sharing experiences and seeking advice can be invaluable.


Dry January: Let’s Make the Most of It!


With every new year, we have an opportunity to reflect, reset, and reimagine our lives. And what better way to start this new chapter than by taking the Dry January pledge? Here's a look at what you can expect and embrace in the upcoming Dry January 2024:

  • A global community. Dry January has grown in leaps and bounds over the years, becoming a worldwide movement. This year, anticipate an even larger global community joining hands (virtually and in person) to support, cheer, and journey together. With the myriad of online forums, support groups, and social media challenges, you're never alone in this endeavor.
  • Rise of sober influencers. The digital world has seen a surge in sober influencers who champion the alcohol-free lifestyle while reaching out to millions with their inspiring stories and sober life hacks. Names like Ruby Warrington, author of Sober Curious, Claire Pooley of The Sober Diaries, and Millie Gooch of Sober Girl Society have taken the internet by storm, providing guidance and creating a space for those seeking an alcohol-free journey.
  • Tech meets sobriety. With advancements in technology, 2024 promises a slew of apps and tools designed to enhance your Dry January experience. Expect features like daily check-ins, mood trackers, health benefit timelines, and even augmented reality games that replace the glass in your hand with fun alternatives.
  • Special events and workshops. Given its growing popularity, many wellness centers, gyms, and community groups will be hosting special Dry January events. From mocktail-making workshops to meditation sessions focusing on sobriety, there's something for everyone. It's not just about removing alcohol — it's about creating meaningful experiences.
  • Spotlight on non-alcoholic alternatives. The beverage industry has taken notice of the Dry January trend. 2024 will see an even wider variety of delectable non-alcoholic beverages hitting the shelves — from craft beers to sophisticated spirit alternatives. This year, going alcohol-free doesn't mean compromising on taste or the pleasure of sipping a well-crafted drink.
  • Personalized journeys. Recognizing that everyone's reasons and experiences with Dry January are unique, there will be an emphasis on personal narratives. Sharing personal stories — through blogs, video diaries, or art — will be a significant trend. It's about celebrating individual milestones while being part of a collective journey.

Dry January can be a transformative experience. While the month might present its set of challenges, the rewards — better health, a clear mind, and a sense of accomplishment — are well worth the effort. And the best part? We can sustain these improvements well beyond January, especially with support from structured programs like the one on the Reframe app. There’s so much to gain by ditching alcohol for 31 days (and possibly even longer!). And the changes we experience can be life-changing, letting us be better parents, partners, friends, and professionals. So why let this opportunity pass us by?

The Dry January challenge is not just about removing alcohol — it’s about enriching your life with new experiences, insights, and habits. Sign on for a brighter, healthier year ahead — and beyond!

Summary FAQs

1. What is Dry January?

Dry January is an initiative started by the British non-profit, Alcohol Change UK, in 2013. The concept encourages people to abstain from alcohol for the entire month of January.

2. Are there any proven benefits of participating in Dry January?

Yes, there are plenty! According to a survey by Alcohol Change UK, participants have reported saving money, experiencing better sleep, losing weight, and feeling an improved sense of overall health and control over their drinking habits.

3. What are the rules for Dry January?

There are no technical rules, aside from staying dry or damp all 31 days. You can participate solo, in a group, or with the support of an app like Reframe

4. Are there any resources or platforms for those looking to participate?

Yes! The Reframe app hosts a Dry January (and Damp January) challenge each year. Sign up now to begin Dry January 2024 on January 1st.

5. How can I seek support During Dry January? 

Reach out to friends and loved ones (ask them if they’d like to join, as well!). You can also connect with thousands of like-minded people through the Reframe Forum.

Kickstart Your Dry January 2024 With Reframe!

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 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 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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