The start of a new year brings new resolutions for many of us, and each year, more people are choosing to go alcohol-free for a month. This year’s Dry January challenge comes as alcohol use has surged during the pandemic. People are feeling more stress, and many are having a drink to mark the end of the workday at home.
“So, working from home has its obstacles on its own, but certainly when the bar is at home, there’s less of an obstacle to find a drink,” says Hilary Sheinbaum. She is the author of “The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month” and says Dry January can be for anyone. “There are so many benefits involved with doing a dry January, including clearer skin, better sleep, better digestion, and just an elevated mood since alcohol is a depressant.”
Research from the Rand Corporation this fall found Americans were drinking 14 percent more in 2020 compared to the previous year. And heavy drinking among women, for this study considered four or more drinks within two hours, rose 41 percent.
Douglas Watters is taking part in the Dry January challenge, and for a good reason. The Manhattan business owner opened the alcohol-free bottle shop “Spirited Away” in November. “I had increased my drinking, and a lot of people had,” Watters says. “In response to that, I wanted to create a place for people who wanted to maybe rein that in a little bit and say, I actually don’t want to be drinking as much as I am.” The shop sells zero-proof spirits, bitters, wines, and beers.
Sheinbaum recommends finding a friend to complete the challenge with as well as making alcohol less visible at home.
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