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Dry January and the trend of voluntary sobriety

Dry January and the trend of voluntary sobriety

Now that holiday hangovers have been packed away with wrapping, and Valentine’s debauchery has become as unpalatable as cheap chocolate and stale hearts, there’s no longer an excuse to forgo your resolution to quit drinking, well, at least for a month.

Increasingly, celebrities and social medialites are broadcasting their voluntary sobriety, or abstinence in individuals who are sober by choice rather than as part of alcoholism treatment. Here’s a peek into the trend.

No “fear of missing out” here!

Kerry Washington said she refuses to add empty calories to her diet.
Kim Kardashian claims she’s the only one of the clan who wholeheartedly stays away.
Jennifer Lopez does not drink for fear it ruins the skin.

Tim McGraw said he was a heavy drinker and went straight edge for the sake of his teenage daughters. “I certainly wanted to have some good, solid ground to stand on when I started talking to them about their situations,” he said in an interview.

Moderation for the not-quite-alcoholic

Although fear of missing out is a pervasive apprehension to abstaining from a social and largely celebratory vice, trying to walk the fence can do more damage. Moderation Management (MM) was a late 1990s campaign that sought to be an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous’ complete sobriety requirement. For those problem drinkers fearful of quitting altogether, the founder, Audrey Kishline, provided a way out. But not for long.

In a morbidly ironic series of events, six years after founding the group, Kishline admitted to sinking from problem drinking into complete alcohol dependency. Just two months after her intimate confession on the group’s website, she drove drunk in a reckless trek that ran drivers off the road and veered into oncoming freeway traffic, killing a mother and child. The MM movement’s momentum quickly faded.

Dry January

The phrase typifies the often-welcome period of abstinence many undergo after the holidays. A study of more than 850 British adults revealed that those who participated in the month-long challenge enjoyed a surprising bonus after their period of voluntary sobriety.

The study concluded that “participation in Dry January was related to reductions in alcohol consumption and increases in DRSE [drink refusal self-efficacy] among all respondents at six-month follow-up.” Even those who did not fully abstain had greater DRSE than before, six months after the study.

Benefits of voluntary sobriety

So aside from bragging rights for making it to the mountaintop, what are physiological benefits from voluntary sobriety – even if it’s for a spell?

Looks like J-Lo was right: alcohol does a hefty number on skin, and according to three doctors in the dermatology field, types of alcohols adversely affect skin differently. Acne, sallow under-eyes, puffy eyes, worsened rosacea and premature wrinkles are all effects of normal alcohol consumption.

Rajiv Jalan, with the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London Medical School, helped the staff at New Scientist conduct their own Dry January experiment. All participants cross-referenced current health and drinking patterns and were all considered medically healthy, normal drinkers. For 35 days, 10 staff voluntarily abstained from alcohol and four kept up the routine.

At the end of the alcohol fast they were surprised to find the following: overall significant decreases in weight, cholesterol, glucose and liver fat. This, while sleep, wakefulness, concentration and work performance increased.

Here at The Sovereign Health Group, we keep readers abreast on the latest in clinical breakthroughs, emerging modalities for recovery and relatable tips for wellness. We’re a nationwide leader in mental health rehabilitation, offering holistic treatment for substance abuse, eating disorders and dual diagnosis of mental health and addiction. If you or your loved one is struggling with a mental health disorder or substance use problem, please call us through our 24/7 helpline.

About the author

Sovereign Health Group staff writer Kristin Currin is a mindful spirit swimming in metaphysical pools with faith as her compass. Her cover: a 30s-something Cinderella breadwinner of an all-sport blended family. Her repertoire includes writing poetry, lifestyle articles and TV news; editing, radio production and on-camera reporting. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author at

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