What To Do If You Struggle To Stay Sober During Dry January

If you struggle to stay sober during Dry January, try finding an accountability partner, working on identifying your triggers, managing your withdrawal symptoms, and creating a routine.

During Dry January, many people give up alcohol for an entire month in an effort to detox from alcohol and give their bodies a reset.

Especially after heavier drinking or relapse over the New Year, Dry January can be challenging to uphold.

Whether you have a known alcohol addiction or you just want to cut back on your alcohol consumption but you’re struggling to do so, the tips below can help.

Tips On Staying Sober During Dry January

January is a month filled with high hopes and New Year’s resolutions — goals we don’t always stick to entirely.

People at times let go of their resolutions because the goals weren’t focused enough and they didn’t have a plan on how to achieve those goals.

This year, if you want to participate in Dry January successfully, you can do so by creating your own personalized plan to stay sober all month.

Here are some things you can do if you’re struggling to stay sober during Dry January.

Allow Room For Failure

Dry January is meant to be a time for you to pick up new habits, find new ways to cope with mental health without alcohol, and allow your body to detox from the substance.

It’s not a time for perfection, and if you happen to lapse and have a drink, it’s perfectly normal and not a reason to give up.

Especially if this is your first time going sober or doing a detox like this, it might be hard in the early stages. That’s ok. Give yourself grace and find ways to restart when and if you have a drink.

Find An Accountability Partner

If you can find a friend or family member to do Dry January with you, that’s great. If not, choose someone you trust who can help keep you accountable throughout the month.

You can also reach out to a recovery mentor, sponsor, or peer support group member if you’re in a treatment program of some kind.

Whoever you choose, have that person check in with you daily to see how you’re doing.

And again, if they check-in and you’ve had a drink, don’t use it as an opportunity to shame yourself. Be honest and talk through some ways you can try again the next day.

Find Alternatives

Part of the reason Dry January can be challenging is that you don’t have alternatives to turn to.

When you always come home to a glass of wine to wind down after work but you don’t have anything to replace it, you might find that the temptation to pick up a bottle at the store is stronger.

Whether alcohol has been a part of your home life, social circle, or dining at restaurants, it’s important to find healthy alternatives so you have something to replace drinking alcohol.

You might consider:

  • creating mocktails
  • drinking sparkling water
  • protein shakes or mineral water
  • coffee or tea

Curate Your Social Circle

It might be hard to go alcohol-free if you’re surrounded by people who drink alcohol regularly and pressure you to drink with them.

Try spending time with people who drink less frequently or respect your desire to abstain from drinking.

These people do not have to be sober with you, but they should respect your boundaries.

Learn Your Triggers

Alcohol use is often triggered by internal or external factors. These triggers might be subtle, such as a passing remark, or more intense, such as an anxiety attack.

Dry January is the perfect time to work through some of these triggers and figure out what’s leading to your alcohol use.

Once you’ve learned what your triggers are, you can find ways to manage your mental health and physical surroundings to promote a sober response.

Review this list of relapse prevention tips for the holidays to learn more ways you can identify and cope with triggers.

Manage Withdrawal Symptoms

One of the leading causes of relapse is alcohol withdrawal. When you stop drinking alcohol, your body experiences a range of unpleasant responses.

For some people, these symptoms are mild and may only last a day or two. For others who drink more heavily, symptoms might persist for several days or weeks.

First, be prepared for withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • tremors
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headaches
  • irritability
  • psychological issues, such as depression or anxiety
  • loss of appetite
  • fatigue
  • mood swings

All of these symptoms are manageable, you just need to be prepared for them. Get ibuprofen for headaches, nausea relief medication, and hydrate yourself consistently.

Managing the symptoms will help you to keep from drinking alcohol in an effort to make them go away.

Create A Routine

Routines can often help people who are detoxing from alcohol to find healthier habits and feel more in control.

Create a schedule for morning, afternoon, and night, filling your time with nutritious foods and activities, positive relationships, and achievable routines.

Focus On Positive Outcomes

When you take alcohol out of the picture, you’ll likely feel better physically, mentally healthier, more energized, and have more time to pursue your passions.

If you’re starting to feel restless without alcohol and tempted to get a drink, reshift your focus to all of the positive things that have come from getting sober.

The hope is that your relationships, physical health, and mental wellbeing will improve during this time.

If you’ve reached milestones or found achievements that you wouldn’t have had otherwise, remember those outcomes and create a more positive outlook.

Stay Sober During Dry January

You can get through Dry January sober with the support of your loved ones, and for some, professional care can be the added support they need to succeed in their sobriety.

If you’d like to learn about your recovery options, reach out to our helpline and talk to one of the addiction treatment specialists at Spring Hill Recovery Center today.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information — Alcohol Dependence, Withdrawal, and Relapse https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860472/
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine — Alcohol withdrawal https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000764.htm

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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