You committed yourself to a month without drinking, and gained some important insights about your health and the role that alcohol plays in your life. Understanding these impacts can help you move forward in an informed and healthy way.
You started this new year with a clear head and a full commitment to Dry January. You might have decided that you needed a break from the health impacts of drinking, or perhaps you were simply curious about what life might be like without those after-work cocktails. Whatever the reason for choosing to embrace a month of sobriety, you likely have had some interesting insights as a result. Here’s what to know about some of the more common outcomes of Dry January.
Outcome 1: Staying Sober Was More Difficult Than You Thought It Would Be
You went into Dry January thinking it would be easy to give up that evening glass of wine, a few beers during the game, or weekend cocktails out with friends. But a day or two in, you began feeling uncomfortable without a drink. You might have realised that drinking after work was actually a way that you cope with pressures at your job, and without that, you feel stressed and anxious. Or you may have found that when you are in social settings without alcohol, you feel awkward and struggle to fit in.
Recognising that you use alcohol as a way to cope with stress or negative feelings is an important insight, and could be an indicator of a deeper issue. Many people with undiagnosed mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, use alcohol as a way to self-medicate symptoms. Increasing reliance on alcohol can lead to misuse and addiction, and actually worsen mental health over the long-term.
If staying sober was emotionally challenging, consider talking to a therapist about your experience to understand more about your relationship with alcohol, and what it could indicate about your mental health.
Outcome 2: Your Relationships with Others Have Changed
Giving up drinking often takes you away from established routines – heading to the same bar after work, gathering at a club for drinks on the weekend, or even just sitting down to watch the news with a beer. These regular activities are being shaken up, and on top of that, you are clear-headed and sober.
This can change your relationships with those around you in some key ways. On the positive side, removing yourself from a routine can expose you to new activities or give you time you didn’t have before to spend with friends, family, or your partner. You might have found that you got outside more with friends, or spent time just chatting with your partner, and that your relationships deepened and improved over the month. This can indicate a need to further regulate your use of alcohol so it doesn’t prevent you from having those close conversations or bonding experiences that you had when you abstained from alcohol.
On the other hand, giving up alcohol may have made you realise that you are using it as a coping mechanism to emotionally manage problematic relationships in your life. While alcohol can be momentarily effective in alleviating stress or numbing strong emotions, more support is needed to get to the root of your distress and help resolve the issues you are having in your relationships.
If you found that giving up drinking has led to some important insights about your relationships, consider seeking further help to make the changes necessary to maintain positive developments and address any problems.
Outcome 3: You Faced Physical Challenges in Giving Up Alcohol
Part of the reason you wanted to participate in Dry January was for the health benefits. Maybe you had “get in better shape” at the top of your New Year’s resolutions list, and giving your liver a break seemed like a natural next step. But what if giving up drinking actually made you feel worse, especially in the beginning?
It’s possible to have a physical dependency on alcohol without being aware of it, so knowing the signs of alcohol withdrawal is critical if you’re giving up alcohol. The initial symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be easily confused with a hangover. These symptoms begin within 6-12 hours of your last drink, and include things like:
- Shaky hands
- Nausea and vomiting
The more time that passes, the more likely it is that serious symptoms may develop. If you suspect that you may have developed a physical addiction to alcohol, it is important to begin a detox process under medical supervision in order to make you more comfortable, and to have the right kind of care in case more severe symptoms arise.
Outcome 4: You Finished Your Month, and People Around You are Urging You to Continue Sobriety
For some people, successfully moving through Dry January means that they have proven that they don’t have a drinking problem. Committing to a sober month helps reinforce the idea that one can quit anytime they want to, and that their drinking isn’t really a problem because they can give it up.
But what if friends, family or other loved ones are urging you to stay the course of sobriety? This could point to a concern about long-term patterns of drinking, and its effects on your health and behaviour. A hallmark of alcohol addiction is denial, and you may be using Dry January to reinforce the story you are telling yourself about your drinking.
If the people you care about are encouraging you to stop drinking but you think they’re overreacting, consider talking to a therapist about the situation and getting an objective perspective on how to proceed.
Outcome 5: You Felt Like Life Improved
At the end of Dry January you felt…great. You started exercising regularly again, which felt easier to do when you weren’t committed to going out for drinks after work or feeling hungover in the morning. You picked up some hobbies with the free time you had, enjoying old activities you had nearly forgotten about. Mentally, you felt less anxious, more rested, and better able to focus and motivate yourself.
Now that January is over, what’s your next step? If you have discovered that cutting drinking out of your weekly routine resulted in a greater sense of wellbeing, think about how to better manage your alcohol use in order to keep these benefits. Not everyone who has a great Dry January will want to give up drinking completely, but it might give you some important insights into how to use alcohol in a healthier way.
Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction at The Dawn
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab is an alcohol rehab in Thailand that offers personalised treatment plans that focus on the underlying mental health issues that cause people to develop substance use disorders.
Internationally accredited by the American Accreditation Commission International, our programme is delivered by a compassionate, internationally-trained team of counsellors and psychologists. Each component has been designed to maximise outcomes for the client, from the timeframe to supporting services. .
Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Thailand
The Dawn is conveniently located just outside the beautiful city of Chiang Mai, Thailand, a one-hour flight from the country’s capital of Bangkok. At our tranquil riverfront property, surrounded by picturesque rice fields and traditional Thai villages, you are completely removed from your triggers and immersed in a safe and soothing environment.
The Dawn also offers medically-assisted detox onsite. Our 24-hour professional nursing team carefully monitors the client throughout this process under the supervision of our psychiatrist, who will prescribe medication as necessary to ease withdrawal symptoms. In emergencies, clients can be immediately admitted to a nearby hospital until their symptoms improve and they can continue their treatment.
Call The Dawn today to learn more about how we can support you in your recovery from alcohol addiction.