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Dryish January: Tom Holland's Sobriety Journey

May 8, 2024
17 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.
May 8, 2024
17 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.
May 8, 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.
May 8, 2024
17 min read
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Reframe Content Team
May 8, 2024
17 min read

In a world characterized by glitz and glamor, alcohol is ubiquitous in celebrity culture. But a growing number of sober celebrities are speaking out about their efforts to ditch alcohol, and they point to the benefits of improved health and well-being as proof. British actor Tom Holland is one of them, and his story can inspire us to take action and make changes that can enhance our lives as well.

In this post, we’ll gain insight from Tom Holland’s struggle with alcohol and how he transformed his life through sobriety. We’ll also offer tips for cutting back on alcohol consumption. Let’s dive in!

Tom Holland and His Drinking Habits

Tom Holland

First things first: who is Tom Holland? Holland is a London-born actor who achieved international fame for his portrayal of Spider-Man in six Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero films, beginning with Captain America: Civil War in 2016. 

While he began his acting career at age 9 in musicals and theater, Holland’s career started to take off when he played Billy Elliot in the West End musical of the same name. He later made his film debut in 2012 in the disaster drama The Impossible, where he played a teenage tourist trapped in a tsunami. Following this film, he was cast for roles in How I Live Now (2013), In the Heart of the Sea (2015), and the miniseries Wolf Half (2015). 

But behind the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, Holland began facing a battle all too familiar for many celebrities: alcohol. In fact, during a podcast interview with Jay Shetty, he admitted to not just struggling with alcohol but to being “enslaved” by it. “I’m happy to say it — I was definitely addicted to alcohol,” he said in the interview. “I’m not shying away from that at all.”

Looking back, Holland attributes his drinking habits to the need to “feel more comfortable in a social environment” — a common sentiment shared by many former drinkers. As he explained to Shetty, "I would look back and recognize that I would go to events for work, and I can't enjoy myself until I've had a few beers, and I just felt so much pressure.”

How Dry January Helped Tom Holland Become Sober

Much like other people who embark on the road to sobriety, Holland’s decision to give up drinking unfolded slowly and came in stages. It started after a boozy Christmas holiday in 2021. “It's interesting. I didn’t one day wake up and say, ‘I’m giving up drinking,’” he told Jay Shetty during the interview. “I, just like many Brits, had a very, very boozy December … I’ve always been able to drink a lot.”

But in the beginning of 2022, Tom Holland decided to take up the challenge of Dry January — a commitment to giving up alcohol for the first month of the year. Interestingly, Dry January began as a movement in the United Kingdom in 2013. Today it’s a global phenomenon supported by mobile apps, websites, and communities in which participants share their experiences, tips, and insights.

During Dry January, Holland found himself constantly thinking about having a drink. “I was waking up thinking about it. I was checking the clock ‘when’s it 12?’ It really scared me,” he said to Shetty. “I just was like, ‘Wow, maybe I have a little bit of an alcohol thing.'”

To prove to himself that he didn’t have a problem, he decided to refrain from drinking alcohol for the following month — and would ultimately end up challenging himself to quit drinking until his birthday on June 1, 2022. But, it wasn’t easy.

“Two months go by and I was still really struggling,” he said to Shetty. Particularly in England, where alcohol and socializing go hand in hand, Holland felt the pressure. “I felt like I couldn’t be social. I felt like I couldn’t go to the pub and have a lime soda,” he said. “I couldn’t go out for dinner. I was really, really struggling, and I started to really worry that maybe I had an alcohol problem.”

Holland found that he had to distance himself from friends in the rugby community in particular because “so much” of the environment is “about how much can you drink?” But Holland stuck with it — and by the time his 26th birthday rolled around, he had gone five whole months without drinking.

How Sobriety Has Benefited Tom Holland

Holland has noted multiple benefits from forgoing alcohol and being sober. As he told Shetty, "By the time I got to June 1, I was the happiest I've ever been in my life." He recalled, "I could sleep better. I could handle problems better, things that would go wrong on set, that would normally set me off, I could take in my stride. I had so much better mental clarity. I felt healthier, I felt fitter."

He also said sobriety helped him reconnect with his authentic self: “Once I really started feeling the health benefits, and once I really started feeling like my full self, I was like ‘Oh my God, this is the best.’” 

Holland’s newfound clarity made him question why he’d ever pick up another drink. “I just sort of said to myself, ‘Why? Why am I enslaved to this drink? Why am I so obsessed with the idea of having this drink?’”

While Holland had made previous attempts to quit alcohol, he said this time was different because he started addressing the reasons he felt like he needed a drink — most of which came down to feeling more comfortable in social situations. 

Having been sober since then, Holland says drinking doesn’t even cross his mind anymore and that the decision to become sober was the “best thing” he’s ever done.

Holland also described the support and encouragement he received from his friends, who never pressured him to have a drink. Interestingly, Holland’s sobriety journey inspired his mother to give up drinking as well. “She’s loving it, and it’s been amazing,” he said. “I can’t believe the difference that I feel from not drinking. Yeah, I feel amazing.”

What Tom Holland Wants Others to Know About Being Sober

Even though Holland has publicly shared his struggle with alcohol and now his sobriety journey, he told Shetty that he doesn’t want to be “that person that’s saying to people, ‘You should get sober.’” But he said that if he “could encourage someone to drink less, that would be great.” 

He added: “I don’t want to start getting into the world of, ‘You need to stop drinking,’ because it’s not for me to say. I went on my own little journey. I’m really enjoying it.” Indeed, Holland has repeatedly echoed what many previous drinkers have said — that being alcohol-free is the best he’s ever felt.

Tips for Cutting Back on Drinking

Tips for Cutting Back on Drinking

As Tom Holland’s journey to sobriety illustrates, cutting back on alcohol or eliminating it entirely is not always easy. It’s a process that requires patience, resilience, and dedication. But, the physical and mental health benefits are so worth the effort! With that in mind, here are eight tips for cutting back on alcohol consumption: 

  1. Sip slowly. Savor each drink, take slow sips, and stay active, such as chatting with friends. It can help to stick to drinks that take time to finish, such as beer or wine (as opposed to mixed drinks or shots, which are usually gulped down). Mindful drinking can also help us sip slowly.
  2. Count your drinks. It’s easy to lose track of the amount of alcohol we consume. Try using a notepad app in your phone to document every drink you have in one sitting — whether at a party, dinner, or event. This can help you become more aware of how much you’re consuming. You can even take this one step further by limiting yourself to one drink every hour. 
  3. Opt for non-alcoholic alternatives. There are a growing number of non-alcoholic drinks on the market that mimic the taste of alcoholic beverages. Opting for alcohol-free beer or wine can help ease the transition. You can also consider finding DIY mocktail recipes.
  4. Set clear boundaries. Quantify the number of days you'll drink and the days you won't. For instance, if you usually drink every day, start by cutting back to five days a week. As you make progress, you can start cutting back to just one day a week.
  5. Avoid triggers. Recognize what induces you to drink — is it stress, boredom, or social pressure? Try keeping a journal to help you identify patterns and then come up with a list of alternative activities you can engage in when you’re triggered. For instance, you might practice meditation, go for a run, or call a friend.
  6. Stay hydrated. For every alcoholic drink you have, try to consume a full glass of water. This practice not only helps us stay hydrated, but it helps limit the amount of alcohol we consume by keeping us full. It also gives our liver time to break down the alcohol. Even moderate levels of alcohol cause dehydration, and drinking water can slow this effect down.
  7. Get support. Share your goals with friends or family or join a support group. This increases your accountability and decreases loneliness. You might also consider reaching out to a therapist or licensed counselor. Keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with seeking professional help.
  8. Reward yourself. It’s important to reward yourself for the progress you’re making as it can help reinforce your new habits and behavior. Every time you reach a milestone, like a day, a week, or a month without alcohol, treat yourself to something you love. For instance, maybe you go out to dinner or buy yourself a new piece of clothing.

Remember, cutting back on alcohol consumption is a journey that can be full of ups and downs. The important thing is to practice self-compassion and not give up! 

The Bottom Line

Tom Holland is one among many celebrities who has shown the courage to confront his issues with alcohol and the determination to overcome them. He may have struggled through Dry January in the beginning, but as the benefits became more noticeable, it was easier for him to maintain his commitment to an alcohol-free lifestyle. From improved sleep to better clarity and focus, ditching alcohol is one of the best things we can do for our physical and mental health. And if stars like Tom Holland can do it, we can too!

If you want to change your drinking habits but don’t know where or how to start, consider trying Reframe. Our science-backed app has helped millions of people reduce their alcohol consumption and enhance their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Summary FAQs

1. What led Tom Holland to give up alcohol?

Tom Holland's decision to quit alcohol stemmed from his realization of its negative impact on his physical and mental well-being. He eventually realized that he was primarily using alcohol to feel comfortable in social situations. 

2. How did Dry January play a role in Tom Holland's sobriety?

Dry January served as a catalyst, prompting Holland to abstain from alcohol for a month. He then challenged himself to make it to his birthday in June without alcohol.

3. What are the benefits Tom Holland has experienced from being sober?

Holland has noted a number of benefits, including improved mental clarity, better sleep, and increased happiness.

4. What can Tom Holland’s sobriety journey teach those of us who may be struggling with alcohol?

Tom Holland’s journey showcases the importance of self-reflection and seeking support when giving up alcohol. His story also underscores that positive change is achievable for anyone facing alcohol issues.

5. What are some tips for cutting back on alcohol consumption?

To begin cutting back on alcohol, try sipping your drinks slowly, tracking your drinks, opting for non-alcoholic alternatives, and seeking support.

Change Your Drinking Habits 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 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 today!

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