New year, no brews

I’m doing Dry January — the post-holiday, month-long sobriety challenge

By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Reader Staff

I fell in love with craft beer at the beginning of the pandemic.

Spring had sprung on our farm, and I was freshly laid off from my job with nothing better to do than lay on a blanket in the yard with a good novel, pretzels and a bitter, bubbly beverage.

It became my sacred routine, and over time, the beer became the only piece of that routine which remained.

It is the taste of a crisp, cold Johnny Utah pale ale that comes to mind as I write this, on the third day of my first ever Dry January.

My decision to abstain from alcohol this month is three-fold. First, I could stand to save some money. Second, I’m experimenting with my temperamental digestive system, hoping that giving up my beloved beers will only help matters. Third, 2021 proved to be a year of overindulgence.

This is not to say that 2021 wasn’t a great year for me. In fact, it was probably one of the happiest of my life. But looking back, if I could change one thing, it would be the times I had one — or two, or three — too many drinks.

I don’t think I’m alone in this moderate, albeit very real, shame.

Luckily for me, there is a popular movement for post-holiday sobriety: Dry January, a term coined in Europe circa 2012 that has grown into a worldwide, health-centric trend, encouraging people to quit drinking for 31 days in the spirit of starting the new year cleansed and clear-eyed.

Alcohol Change UK, the organization credited with launching the first ever Dry January in an official capacity, estimated that 4 million people worldwide made a concerted effort to give up drinking in January 2020. In 2021, that number jumped to 6.5 million.

A quick internet search shows that my reasons for participating in Dry January are common, as well as some others: to lose weight, sleep better, improve overall health, avoid hangovers and get a “do-over” with your relationship to alcohol.

Among my friends who are partaking by not partaking, a simple desire to “see if they can do it” is common. In the two full days I’ve gone without a beer in 2022, I’ve managed to stick to seltzer water and soda at a birthday party, a firewood-getting-excursion and two ever-tempting evening routines. At the risk of sounding a little pathetic, this feels like no small feat.

The best list of Dry January hacks I’ve managed to find come from Good Housekeeping, which encourages journaling, recruiting friends, breaking up your routine, working out and finding delicious, trusty substitutes — like non-alcoholic spirits and bubbly waters — to combat the desire that comes from simply having an empty hand during social events and evenings on the couch. Other helpful tips, from the Surely non-alcoholic wine brand, include eliminating temptations at home (I know my sister is happy to inherit the six beers still remaining in my stash on Jan. 1) and temporarily unfollowing social media accounts who regularly post about alcohol.

I haven’t a clue where Dry January will lead me, but so far, I’m proud of myself. I share this with our readers in the interest of transparency, solidarity and maybe even some good, old-fashioned newsprint accountability. Cheers, to whatever is in your glass, and whatever the new year might hold for all of us.

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