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Alcohol and Health

Turn Dry January Into a Sober Year 2024

January 3, 2024
19 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 3, 2024
19 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
January 3, 2024
19 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 3, 2024
19 min read
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Reframe Content Team
January 3, 2024
19 min read

In the words of Greek philosopher Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do.” This is true about our habits — both the helpful ones that get us closer to the best version of ourselves, and the ones that derail us from our path.

If you’ve decided to try the Dry January challenge, congrats! You’ve taken an important step towards a happier, healthier year. Why not keep at it? Curious about how to keep the momentum going into February and beyond, to see where a sober year might take you? If you’re curious, we're here to cheer you on through the rest of the year, helping you turn good intentions into lasting habits with science-backed strategies and fun ideas for each month.

Why Dry for a Year?

Once we get to the end of January, chances are we’ll see some clear benefits of the break we took from drinking. And the longer we reduce our alcohol intake, the more those benefits continue to grow! Here’s a preview of what the year ahead can bring.

  • Better physical health. The physical health benefits of going dry (or even dry-ish) are nothing short of amazing: we’re looking at reduced liver inflammation, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, better immune and digestive health, and a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers. 
  • Weight loss. Cutting out alcoholic beverages can slash our calorie intake, improve our metabolism, and stabilize our blood glucose levels, all of which contribute to weight loss.
  • Better sleep. Despite making us drowsy, alcohol disrupts the most restorative REM phase of sleep — get ready to feel rested and refreshed! 
  • A more stable mood. Without alcohol in the mix, our mood tends to get more even and anxiety levels decrease. 
  • A clear mind. Ditching alcohol improves concentration, memory, and cognitive functions.
  • Extra money to spend. Cutting out alcohol can save a significant amount of cash previously spent on drinks.
  • Stronger relationships. While alcohol creates the illusion of sociability, authentic interactions form better without it, with fewer misunderstandings.
  • More time. Time we used to spend drinking can now go toward family events, hobbies, friendships, creative projects, exercise, and travel.
  • A stronger sense of self. Many on the sober (or sober-curious) path find that they learn a lot about themselves during a period without booze.

The key is to think of this year as a fun experiment — not an obligation. In the spirit of the sober-curious movement that looks at going booze-free as a wellness-inspired adventure rather than a restriction, let’s embrace this challenge with a sense of wonder and possibility. And to make things more interesting, here are some fun themes based on science-backed strategies to turn Dry January into a sober 2024.

Friendly February: Reconnecting and Building a Support Network

A strong support network makes all the difference when it comes to being sober (or sober-curious). Alcohol creates the illusion of fast friendships and deep heart-to-heart conversations, but if we really think about it, often all those “social” nights leave us socially depleted in the long run. The late-night memories fade away, maybe even turning into morning hangovers, and we can be left feeling lonelier than when the night began. 

This month, let’s turn that around! Science shows that authentic connections and a strong social support network can work wonders for our brain, improving our cognitive abilities and even staving off age-related decline. They also help set us up for success if challenges arise later on this year.

Tip: Every week this month, reach out to at least 3 people: one old friend you haven’t talked to in a while (perhaps because alcohol got in the way or you just lost touch), one friend or contact who knows about your Dry January and Sober Year goals and is cheering you on (check out the Reframe community for extra support!), and one new friend you want to get to know better (and perhaps add to your support team).

March Memories: Remembering Your True Self

Alcohol has a way of taking over our personalities, changing the way we structure our lives and think of ourselves. This March, let’s remember who we are in a deeper, more authentic, vulnerable sense. While this might be scary at first, it will open up new ways to anchor ourselves in sobriety in a way that feels natural, honest, and true. As vulnerability expert psychologist Brene Brown writes, “We can't practice compassion with other people if we can't treat ourselves kindly.”

Tip: Dedicate 10 “memory minutes” a day and write down a fun, interesting, or poignant memory that reflects your authentic self before alcohol was in the picture. Maybe it’s a childhood friendship, a high school teacher who made a difference in your life, your first crush, or even your first heartbreak. Focus on how that experience reflects your true, pre-alcohol identity, and thank your former self for it.

Artsy April: Creativity in Sobriety

Creative activities have been shown to boost dopamine, our brain's natural feel-good neurotransmitter. It strengthens your problem-solving and reduces the monotony that sometimes triggers drinking. Plus, creating something new works as an authentically satisfying reward.

Tip: Tap into your inner artist and start an art project, visit galleries, or just doodle. Or, if you prefer, try your hand at graphic design or animation — the sky's the limit!

Minimalist May: The More of Less

Minimalism has been a hot topic in wellness circles, with pros like Marie Kondo showing us how to handpick things in our lives that “spark joy” and let go of the rest. As it turns out, minimalism can actually naturally increase the release of dopamine in the brain, and it’s scientifically shown to boost well-being! What we decide to keep in our life is treasured more and brings more authentic happiness.

This month, let’s try to think of what we put in our bodies the same way. Does alcohol really spark joy, or do we drink out of habit more than we realize?

Tip: Take this time to clear out your pantry or fridge; get rid of anything that doesn’t serve you when it comes to being your healthiest and happiest self. Get in the habit of taking a moment to be mindful of what you consume and ask yourself, does it spark authentic joy?

Jumpy June: Exercise and Movement

Exercise releases endorphins, which naturally lift our mood. Staying physically active is key to maintaining sobriety and is one of the best weapons we have to wipe out cravings when they show up. And there’s the extra perk of getting in shape (which is much easier without booze sabotaging our fitness efforts!)

Tip: Start a jogging routine, sign up for a neighborhood yoga class, or check out the fitness room in your apartment building. Or, if you prefer, try a YouTube video or online fitness class — cardio kickboxing to HIIT workouts, yoga, or kettlebell exercise routines are now right at your fingertips or on your screen. (Popsugar fitness or Fitness Blender are great places to start.)

Jovial July: Exploring Laughter Therapy

In July, let’s focus on the lighter side of things. Recent research shows that laughter can actually have a physical effect on our hormones, reducing stress and anxiety! Who knew that there was such a fun way to give our mental health a boost? Since stress is a major drinking trigger for many of us, laughing our way to sobriety could be just what we need this month.

Tip: Start a joke diary and jot down jokes you hear, funny lines from TV shows you watch, or bits of conversations that made you laugh. Finding bits of humor in life around you can feel like making a new discovery, which provides a dopamine boost in a natural way.

Awareness August: Notice the Details

Mindful awareness is the key to mental well-being — and it’s backed by science! Brain studies show that meditation and other mindfulness practices that involve observing our own minds without judgment (such as yoga, tai chi, or deep breathing) boost our cognitive abilities, lower stress, and decrease rumination (those repetitive thoughts that trap us in their incessant chatter, especially at night or in other quiet moments). All of these benefits work wonders when it comes to dismissing cravings for alcohol and opening our minds to new experiences.

Tip: Become a “scientist” of the world around you, including your own mind. Every day, take notice of 3 things you can physically sense in your environment or in your body, 3 emotions you can identify, and 3 thoughts you observe going through your mind. There’s absolutely no judgment here — just pure observation. You might be surprised at how much this exercise boosts your intuition without you knowing it!

Sound Healing September: Balance and Equilibrium

Science tells us that sound frequencies can alter our state of mind, mood, and physical well-being. Some might even have the potential to stave off cravings and help establish emotional equilibrium! This month, let’s harness the power of sound by exploring what it can do for us when it comes to sobriety.

Binaural frequencies (or beats) are a special category of sound healing that work by playing slightly different frequencies in each ear (so you need headphones to experience the full effect). The brain “averages” those frequencies, generating a third sound and, in the process, possibly fostering calmness, creativity, and focus.

Tip: Try sound healing, brainwave, or binaural frequency meditations — there are many to choose from on YouTube. Minds in Unison or Greenred Productions are great ones to start with.

Optimistic October: Embracing Change

In the words of Jacque Fresco, “In order to design a future of positive change, we must first become expert at changing our minds.” Change is inevitable, and being able to reframe it as a positive is key — especially when it comes to sobriety. It’s all about seeing the benefits in this new way of life instead of constantly evaluating it against an arbitrary standard. Let’s get curious about it and embrace the change!

Tip: Harness the power of optimism by starting a gratitude practice to help you see the positive aspects of change in life. Each day, write down something you’re grateful for — no matter how small! It’s all about “changing our minds.”

Nutritious November: Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Nutrition can play a big role in our relationship with alcohol. This month, let's focus on nourishing our bodies as well as our sobriety.

Certain nutritional deficiencies can even mimic or worsen symptoms of withdrawal and cravings. Studies show that getting plenty of amino acids (found in meats, tofu, cheese, and beans) and omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon, olive oil, and avocados) are associated with higher success rates of those trying to stay sober.

Tip: Talk to a nutritionist (or use online resources) to revamp your diet. Nourish your body with what it needs to thrive, and give some extra love to your liver by eating foods that help it repair itself, such as leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, beets, berries, and fatty fish.

December Decisions: Reflect and Resolve

It’s December already? Congratulations for making it this year — whether you managed to stick to your plan or had some slip-ups, every bit of progress pays off when it comes to your mental and physical health. You’re probably seeing the benefits of cutting back or going booze-free, so now it’s decision time: do you want to continue? Remember, it’s your journey — the future awaits!

Beyond 2024

Believe it or not, before you know it, we’ll be saying hello to 2025. By that time, you’ll have a toolbox of ideas to use to help you stay sober — if you’re curious to see where it could take you — and a whole year of new experiences to reflect on as you continue to rethink your relationship with alcohol. Happy New Year, and best wishes for the best Dry January yet!

Summary FAQs

1. Why dedicate each month to a specific theme in sobriety?

Each month's theme focuses on different aspects of wellness and skills that support sobriety. By dedicating time to various practices like mindfulness, creativity, and nutrition, you can build a toolbox to sustain a sober lifestyle.

2. Will going sober for a year really improve my health?

Yes! A year-long break from alcohol can lead to significant physical health improvements, including better liver function, weight loss, improved digestion, a better immune system, and enhanced sleep quality.

3. How can I maintain the momentum of sobriety throughout the year?

By following the monthly themes and integrating the tips and strategies into your daily life, you can maintain momentum and keep going. A strong support network and reflecting on your progress will help as well.

4. What if I slip up during the year?

Slip-ups can happen, and it's okay!  Treat them as a learning opportunity rather than a failure. Reflect on what led to the slip, seek support, and recommit to your sobriety with the understanding and strategies you've gained the journey. Every bit of progress counts!

Ready To Change Your Relationship With Alcohol in the New Year? Reframe Can Help!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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