• Holly Chisholm

Five Things to Think about Now that Dry January is Over

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

So a lot of you might have seen that I am doing a series of posts in a bit of a different color with a differe

nt topic than what I usually draw about. This is because I partnered with an organization called Dry January to make comics about giving up alcohol for the whole month.

For those who didn’t see my posts, Dry January is a project started by Alcohol Change UK to help people rethink their relationship with alcohol, and gives people help if they want it. Dry January started in 2013 with 4,000 people. It's come a long way since then, with over 100,000 signing up and 4 million taking part in 2018.

I personally stopped drinking at the start of October of 2019. This was after two years of struggling to reduce and control my alcohol intake. I was inspired to take a break from drinking because of #SoberOctober and after a month of sobriety chose to keep going! Now I am four months sober, and haven’t felt this happy in over a decade.

If you have participated in Dry January, you may be wondering: “Should I keep going? Is permanent sobriety for me, or should I try to cut down? What’s next?”

Having tried extended breaks from alcohol multiple times before choosing full-time sobriety, I know that it can take some time, thinking and experimenting to fully define what you want your relationship to alcohol to be.

Here are a few things to think about:

1. Reflect on your accomplishment!

You did it! 30 days alcohol-free is a huge deal! Even if you had a few slip ups, even a few days of not drinking is a great way to learn more about yourself and your relationship to alcohol. It’s awesome that you took this time for yourself to take a break and give your mind and body a much-deserved rest. Congrats!

2. What did you like about Dry Jan? What didn’t you like?

It’s good to take an inventory of how your experience with Dry January was. I like to make a list of “Pros” and “Cons”. Here are a few things to ask yourself about how your month went:

  • How did I feel physically while not drinking?

  • How did you feel mentally while not drinking?

  • How was your sleep?

  • How were your relationships affected?

  • Did you lose or gain weight?

  • Did you notice any changes in your skin?

  • Did you notice when/what triggered cravings or made you want to have a drink?

  • If you missed a day and had a drink, how did you feel after?

  • Did you notice any feelings of guilt or shame around drinking lessen or get worse?

3. Think about what you want your relationship with alcohol to be.

After reviewing how your month went, it’s up to you to decide what you want to do with this new knowledge. Do you want to drink less? Do you want to stop drinking completely? Are you not ready to give up drinking for good just yet? It’s up to you to decide based on how you are feeling after Dry Jan, and that can be a really empowering feeling. Whatever you choose, be sure to check in with yourself every once and a while and ask “Do I still want this?” It’s important to be aware and curious about habits you choose to take part in, because that’s the only way we can know if we want to change them or not.

4. If you want to cut down what steps will you take after Dry Jan?

There are a lot of ways to cut down on your drinking a few experiments you can try are:

  • Only drinking on weekends

  • Drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic drink

  • Have a friend hold you accountable to make sure you keep your limit

  • Ask your doctor or therapist about the Sinclair method which can help reduce your drinking using a drug called Naltrexone.

  • Only stick to certain drinks that have a smaller alcohol content.

  • Before every drink ask yourself: Is this drink helpful to me, or not?

  • Join conscious drinking groups online for people who are focused on mindful drinking.

  • Let your friends know that you are looking to change your relationship with alcohol so they can help support you in your decision to cut down.

5. If you want to give up alcohol for good, what steps will you take after Dry Jan?

Coming to terms with the fact that you might never want to drink again can be both exciting and terrifying. Here are a few ways that helped me when I decided I wanted to stop drinking for good.

  • Read helpful books on how to stay sober. I suggest the authors Annie Grace and Allen Carr for some useful books on how to become free from alcohol.

  • Join a alcohol-free online or in-person support group. There are groups like AA of course, but also some other good alternatives like SMART recovery or mindfullness-based sobriety groups. These can really help if you think that you may be addicted to alcohol, or were using alcohol to cope with unpleasant feelings.

  • Let your friends and family know that you know longer want to drink. You will be pleasantly surprised how many people will support you and cheer you on in your decision.

  • Talk to a therapist or doctor if you can. A lot of people will use alcohol as a way to hide from or numb things that have happened to us in the past. For me EMDR therapy was absolutely ESSENTIAL in helping me stay alcohol-free.

  • If you get cravings or triggers play through in your mind what would happen if you had the drink. What would the outcome be? Would that drink ultimately be helpful or harmful to you? Using mindfulness techniques like this can help you realize a craving for what it is, and consciously choose to ignore them.

  • Realize that you aren’t really giving anything up! Remember, your relationship with alcohol is always optional, and YOU get to decide what you want it to be.

Personally, my plan is to continue to not to drink every day for the rest of my life, and to be a resource for people who are struggling with their drinking, depression or anxiety. I hope that my comics inspire you to think about how you can change your relationship to drinking, or if you have already decided to stay sober, that they encourage you to continue.

If you want to know more about what to do after Dry Jan is over, they have a list of resources here:

If you want to see all of my Sober October comics and my Dry January comics you can find them here:

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