Dry January: 4 Tips to Help Meet Your Goal to Not Drink Alcohol by Dr. Teralyn Sell

Dry January: 4 Tips to Help Meet Your Goal to Not Drink Alcohol

For many, the New Year is a time of change, reform and dreams. We begin to plan out how we want the next year to look, with our goals at the forefront of our minds. While many may be focusing on physical fitness goals or diet goals, others may be focused on addiction recovery and sobriety.

A resolution of sobriety can set an intention for a lifetime – until it doesn’t. The problem is that when you think too far ahead, it can feel overwhelming and then you give up. In early-stage recovery, the feeling of overwhelm and shame are already present. Adding to this with a long term resolution can actually be a recipe for disaster. So, instead of setting a huge lifetime goal, set a daily sobriety goal, or a weekly sobriety goal or possibly a monthly sobriety goal such as Dry January. Make sure the goals aren’t just whether you will drink or not. Set goals that address nutritional changes and the management of emotions, too.

Dry January is a great time to evaluate the role that alcohol plays in your life. But, don’t be fooled, you might have a drinking problem that spans beyond Dry January. Meaning, quitting for 30 days might give you the wrong impression that because you didn’t drink for 30 days that you can handle alcohol or that you can’t possibly have a deeper issue. Instead, you might binge on day 31. So, take the time to reflect on why alcohol is important to you.

For perspective, we don’t argue about water, we don’t get arrested for drinking too much water, we don’t fight others because we drank too much water. Alcohol is a beverage that holds power in many things. If you are engaging in Dry January, use it to really evaluate that power and the role alcohol plays in your life. Don’t just use it to white knuckle the next 30 days to prove that you don’t have a problem.

Here are my top four resolution recommendations for recovery:

  1. Journal daily. Have a resolution in Dry January to journal daily. This will be a great time to really explore the role that alcohol has in your life. Journal about thoughts, emotions, patterns and desires for alcohol. Journal about how often you thought about alcohol or how often you turned it down. Also, journal about how your body feels without alcohol in it. We don’t realize how crappy we feel until we don’t feel crappy anymore.
  2. Tell someone what your goal is. Let a close friend or loved one know what your goal is around alcohol. The idea of letting someone else in on your evaluation, uncertainty or desire to change your relationship with alcohol can be very empowering. There is also a level of accountability there that can help to keep you on track.
  3. Remember that dry doesn’t equal sobriety or recovery. Just because you quit drinking doesn’t mean you have addressed the deeper issues that you have that were the underlying cause of over-drinking in the first place. Take the month to explore your relationship with alcohol with a professional. This doesn’t mean a trip to rehab or even a 12-step group. This could mean working individually with a therapist or even a recovery coach.
  4. Add in some other changes, too. Make sure that your goal isn’t just whether or not you will drink that day. Set other health-related goals that will positively replace the habit of drinking. For instance, if you drink before bed, replace that with eating a protein snack and doing some breathing or stretching before bed. Once you change these habits around alcohol you might find alcohol to not be as "necessary" after Dry January is over.

Note: The content on 30Seconds.com is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider. The opinions or views expressed on 30Seconds.com do not necessarily represent those of 30Seconds or any of its employees, corporate partners or affiliates.

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Elisa Schmitz
This is awesome. I love that you went deeper than just Dry January, using this as a time to really look at our relationships with alcohol and reflect on its role in our lives. Thank you, Dr. Teralyn Sell .
I’m all in on this.

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