Adventures in Sobriety

 
 

Looking at the recent phenomenon that is Dry January, Niamh O Regan questions whether it’s worth it and provides some non-alcoholic alternatives.


THE most common resolutions never change, drink less being one of them, often starting with a “Dry January”, 31 days of no alcohol consumption. It apparently started in 2011 when one woman decided she wanted to run a marathon, and gave up drinking to make her training easier.

Terming this period as “Dry January” stems from this, and the term was trademarked by Alcohol Concern in 2014. It is now an official partnered campaign with Public Health England, inspiring people to give up alcohol to save money, reduce their waistlines, sleep better and be healthier. The Irish Heart Foundation run their annual campaign for Dry January called “On the Dry” in the hope to raise awareness of how excessive alcohol consumption can negatively affect the heart.

Some people, students especially, undertake a dry January, not because they want to fundraise, but in part because of how much they have spent over Christmas and how much they have had to drink. There’s also an element of “New Year, New Me”; alcoholic beverages are often very high in calories, and don’t help with the resolutions to lose weight and generally be healthier. January might be one of the easier months for students to commit to as well because of how late many universities start back. Less opportunity to go out and drink means one is less likely to crack.

This raises the question however, of what Dry January actually achieves. One of the rewards people give themselves for enduring the month long alcohol sabbatical is a drink, or several drinks and the several drinks continues throughout the rest of the year until the next January comes around. Does it raise awareness and influence someone to only drink within their unit guidelines? Or do people hope that their tolerance will drop slightly so that they won’t have to spend as much on a night out?

Results, of course, are mixed, but it does have a positive impact on some people. The aim is not to stop alcohol consumption, but to encourage a safer consumption.

Not drinking shouldn’t be a sacrifice however, it shouldn’t be a daily thought or craving, and in this way Dry January can be a very good thing. It can highlight the necessity to change certain drinking practices quite early on. The sooner practices are changed, the easier it is to maintain them.

The entire existence of Dry January raises an issue of our relationship with alcohol and everything we associate it with. There’s an active knowledge of how alcohol negatively impacts our health and yet people must force themselves to give it up.

Stranger still is the reaction to a Dry January. Many people are surprised that someone is undertaking it, saying that they themselves wouldn’t be up for it, or wouldn’t be able for it. It’s recommended if you are undertaking one that you tell people about it, so that they’re aware and can support you through it.

Many places have copped on to the trend for Dry January, providing recipes for non alcoholic cocktails and carefully crafted cordials so that going to a party doesn’t result in the option of only drinking water for the evening or rotting your teeth by drinking something chemically sugared. Bottle Green make a ginger and lemongrass cordial which dilutes very well with sparkling water and provides a substantial enough kick that if some lime is added, it tastes quite like a Moscow Mule, but more hydrating and hangover free

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