For many, the beginning of the New Year kicks off with Dry January – a campaign that started in the early 2000’s to promote the health benefits of abstaining from alcohol. You may have just participated yourself, done so in the past, and/or know someone (or several people) who have as well. This year, nearly 1 in 5 adults noted they planned to participate in the challenge, “up from 13 percent who said the same in 2021,” according to recent research.

From a harm reduction and wellness perspective the idea of abstaining from alcohol for the month of January can be helpful in bringing more consciousness to your drinking in terms of your thoughts, feelings and behavior around alcohol consumption. In addition, the non-profit Alcohol Change states that 86% of participants in Dry January save money, 70% have better sleep and 66% have more energy.  However, while appealing as a mindfulness exercise, it’s important to note that it isn’t an efficacious idea to pursue long-term recovery for those dealing with alcoholism especially as only 4% of Dry January participants, on average, continue to abstain up to six months after the January has wrapped.

With a new month beginning, and for those who participated in Dry January, the months ahead present an opportunity to reflect on the first few weeks of the year, your habits and how you can move forward in a way that is healthy. For a person struggling with a Substance Use Disorder (“SUD”) that includes alcohol, Dry January may have triggered a negative reaction or an inability for them to successfully complete the month-long journey. 

In those instances, particularly for those dealing with an SUD, Dry January can be a positive cue to further actions to help them find a solution to their struggle.  Here are some good sources to help a loved one seek help for their problems with alcohol:

It’s important to note that there is no quick fix for those that struggle with a SUD that includes alcohol and Dry January can make it seem like that could be a solution.  For those with a SUD the health benefits of Dry January are lost when you return to drinking in February, which can be demoralizing.  Abstaining from alcohol can also initially be socially isolating, which for someone with a SUD could exacerbate their struggle with alcohol when they return to it.  Unanticipated withdrawal symptoms could also have a negative effect for those with a SUD based on the quantities they were consuming prior to Dry January, made worse by coming off the Holidays where alcohol consumption is often higher.

In conclusion, if you do struggle with alcohol or think you might have a SUD, seeking help beyond Dry January with an eye towards a long-term recovery solution is highly recommended.  Especially in today’s world, it takes a village filled with community and connection.


  • David vandervelde

    Executive Director and Co-Founder

    Awakening Recovery

    David got clean and sober in 1988 at the age of 19, close to death from his own struggles with drug addiction and alcoholism. Now 35+ years clean and sober, he has been consistently active in his recovery community by mentoring others, serving on recovery and youth related non-profit Boards such as LifeWorks and the West Hollywood Recovery Center, and serving on panels at institutions speaking from his own experience about recovery.   In 2015, David chose to transition from a 25-year career in producing large-scale corporate events for the sports, entertainment and non-profit sectors, to co-founding Awakening Recovery, non-profit a sober living in Los Angeles, as its Executive Director and Board member, helping those looking for a long-term recovery solution regardless of access to funds.  Additionally, David has successfully completed his Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling from UCLA.  He now devotes his personal and professional life to helping those that need it the most find a long-term recovery solution from chronic and acute drug addiction and alcoholism through the life-saving work at Awakening Recovery and in his recovery community at large.