Benefits for “Dry January” can last more than a month

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Many see the start of a new year as a new chance to achieve new goals. For some, this list of goals includes limiting alcohol consumption or healing the relationship with the substance.

As we get deeper into Dry January, staying motivated at the end of the month becomes more and more difficult. Health professionals told 8News that even if someone can’t go completely “dry” January — or 100% alcohol-free — simply cutting back on consumption can have huge health benefits.

Point five in Carytown is Richmond’s first stand-alone alcohol-free bottle shop. Owner Jodi Seidl started her “sober-curious” journey about 3-4 years ago. She has not consumed alcohol for about nine months.

“It started as a 30-day trial, it felt really good and it continued,” Siddle explained.

Her friend and client Jarrod Collier has been sober for more than nine years.

“My life was a wreck,” Collier said. “The joys and miracles I have received in my life from choosing to live sober have been endless.”

Both are on very different journeys, but both are advocating for people to participate in Dry January.

“It’s just a good way to give your body a break,” Seidl said.

The Dry January movement dates back to around 2013, when only a few thousand people participated in it. However, it has since taken off, with more than 100,000 people estimated to have joined this year. While these statistics come from the UK, VCU hepatologist Dr. Richard Sterling explained how this trend may coincide with the United States. He noted that more people are interested in exercise for a variety of reasons, including physical, mental and financial improvement.

Siddle noted that sales at alcohol-free stores usually skyrocket in January, when Dry Januaryers look for ways to get through the month.

“Alcohol is involved in almost everything we do,” Siddle said. “That’s why it’s getting more and more difficult.”

Collier elaborated, noting the importance of sticking to those 31 days.

“Momentum is something you don’t see,” Collier said. “You start bringing things back to life, right, why stop there?”

Dr. Sterling encourages people to consider cutting back on alcohol long-term and extend their “sober-curious” journey beyond a month. But he noted that closing the liquor cabinet even just for January can be a guarantee of success.

“It can lead to an improvement in blood pressure,” said Dr. Sterling. “You can lose weight and also improve the metabolism of insulin in the body. Improves sleep, people have more energy, general health improvement.’

Many are familiar with the negative effects of alcohol on the human body. This can perpetuate liver scarring and damage, lead to liver failure, and even increase the likelihood of developing primary liver cancer. But Dr. Sterling explained that alcohol doesn’t just wear out the liver.

“Alcohol can affect other organs,” explained Dr. Sterling. “It can affect the pancreas; it can affect the heart.

Experts recommend talking to your doctor to better understand how cutting down or cutting down on alcohol might affect you. Heavy drinkers may need to take a different approach to movements like Dry January to ensure safe habit formation. Heavy drinkers may experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to give up the substance abruptly.

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