Dry January tips: How to complete Dry January without cheating

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Giving up alcohol can be tricky, especially for those who have a complicated relationship with alcohol. If you have committed to cutting out alcohol for the month of January, aka Dry January, you may be worried it will be difficult. Express.co.uk chatted to sobriety coach and author of How to Quit Alcohol in 50 days, Simon Chapple, to find out how to complete Dry January without cheating.

Dry January is a positive thing for everyone and has a number of benefits.

Simon said: “Dry January is an excellent opportunity to evaluate your relationship with alcohol and discover whether you are in control of booze or whether it is in control of you.

“Commonly people will notice improvement to their skin, darkness around their eyes as well as sleep, mood, lower anxiety and a sense of calm.”

Simon recommends taking a selfie at the start of the month and another towards the end to allow you to see the changes which have taken place over a relatively short period of time.

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Who wouldn’t want to reap the benefits of giving up alcohol?

It’s clear Dry January is a sensible thing to do, but knowing the benefits doesn’t make it any easier to go cold turkey.

Simon commented: “The first week can be challenging and it is important to be prepared for a level of discomfort before experiencing the positive benefits.

“Getting hold of some Quit Lit (books that teach about sobriety) is a great idea and will allow you to learn new tactics and understand how to deal with any discomfort you experience.”

How to beat alcohol cravings

When you give up anything which you regularly have, you are likely to experience cravings.

There will be moments throughout Dry January where you feel like giving up, but Simon has plenty of useful tips to curb this feeling.

He said: “There are many free advice videos on my “Be Sober” YouTube channel with specific tactics for dealing with cravings and I would encourage people to look at the best approach and find something they feel works for them ahead of time, instead of testing it when things get tough.

“Sobriety can be like learning a new skill and it can take a bit of practice, the most important thing is to keep putting in the work, rather than expecting to master it immediately.”

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Some of the most effective tactics for beating cravings are:

  • 25 jumping jacks or any vigorous exercise
  • Breathing and meditation
  • Reaching out to friend or in a supportive community
  • Journaling and writing down your thoughts through the craving with a sense of curiosity and writing until it passes
  • Changing your routine, doing the same things we did when we drink can be a trigger for a craving
  • Timing a craving, noticing how long it lasts and how they become less powerful and frequent over time.

He added: “Becoming able to sit with a craving and knowing that it always passes is the key to becoming stronger and understanding that they do not have as much power as you think.”

If the craving tactics haven’t completely swayed you against taking a drink, there are a few things you can put in place to prevent you from quitting.

Simon recommends having an accountability partner – someone else who is doing Dry January with you.

He said: “ Having an accountability partner and making a commitment to reach out to them before ever giving in is an excellent way to keep a safety net between you and alcohol.”

Even if your nearest and dearest aren’t taking part, it’s important to communicate with them.

Simon added: “Be open with the people closest to you in order that you have supportive people all around you.”

If you don’t have anyone you feel you can talk to, you can connect with likeminded people online.

Simon explained: “You can join an online sobriety community where you will be able to connect with people on the exact same journey who will be on hand to offer help whenever you need it, my Be Sober Facebook support group is one of the largest alcohol-free communities in the world and is free to join.”

How to commit to sobriety in the long run

Most people see Dry January as just one month of sobriety, but you should probably change your approach if you potentially want to give up alcohol for good or limit your usage.

Simon said: “Instead of approaching Dry January feeling deprived and getting down because you think you are missing out while you hang in there for a drink until February 1, change the approach to one of curiosity and exploration.

“Work on your mindset and try to become excited and motivated about what you will learn about yourself without alcohol interfering with your life.

“Treat it like an experiment and pay really close attention to everything that changes for the better over the month, use a journal and gather all the data you can.

“Make a commitment to yourself to honestly evaluate how alcohol features in your life towards the end of January, if you have found that everything has improved I would recommend committing to a longer break such as 60 or 90 days and then continuing to extend it as you go forward until such time as you feel you want to quit drinking for good.”

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