Are You Giving Up Drinking in January?

empty beer bottles sit in a group on a porch
Drynuary, a month of teetotalling at the beginning of the year, is gaining in popularity.

kaktuslampan / David Pettersson / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

I don't consume alcohol every day. Many days I choose not to drink, often because I take on the role of "Mom's Taxi," and also because I don't think it's smart to drink every day, despite all the studies extolling the benefits of moderate daily alcohol consumption.

But I don't think that I'm going to join the growing Dry January movement and abstain from drinking for an entire month. Many people choose to go without alcohol for the month for their own reasons such as drying out from the overindulgence of the holidays, jump-starting their weight loss resolutions, or gaining health benefits from giving their liver a 31-day break.

"Drynuary" or "Dryuary" is more difficult to say (and type) than Dry January, but in our mandatory-portmanteau culture, it's what the month of abstaining from alcohol has been named. I'm going with Drynuary simply because if you trace its origins, the concept was spelled that way first.

Who decided we should give up alcohol for January anyway?

A man named John Ore and his wife take credit for the name, but not the concept, according to a piece Ore wrote for Slate last year at the beginning of his ninth-consecutive Drynuary. It's their alternative to a New Year's resolution, a "sort of post-holiday cleanse, a way to atone for the excesses of food and drink that start around Thanksgiving and stagger through New Year's."

According to Twitter, Ore is going for a decade of no-alcohol Januaries in 2016.

Are there any real health benefits to Drynuary, or abstaining from alcohol for any one-month period? Ten staff members at New Scientist went on a one-month liver vacation to find out. A report published in 2013 reveals that the one-month teetotalers saw dramatic, short-term changes, including:

  • Liver fat fell by an average of 15%.
  • Blood glucose levels dropped by an average of 16%.
  • Total blood cholesterol dropped by almost 5%.
  • They lost an average of 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds) each.
  • Sleep quality and the ability to concentrate improved.

The one downside the New Scientist staff members reported was that they had less social contact.

It's important to remember that these results were short term, and no long-term study was done to see how those who participated in the experiment fared after they went back to drinking.

One concern about participating in Drynuary could be binge drinking in February, according to NPR. It's certainly something to be careful of. In fact, when I searched for #Drynuary and #Dryuary on Instagram, many of the posts were about that gleeful first drink after the dry month was over!

It seems like participating in Drynuary could certainly have benefits, especially if it's followed by moderation February through December.