This is Why It’s So Hard to Quit Drinking + Dry January Tips

I keep hearing from friends that are doing Dry January, or at least drying out on some level these last couple of weeks, so if you’re anywhere on that spectrum, considering it, or want to be, this is for you….

First, a little context… over the last, IDK, 15 years or so I’ve gotten really good giving things up and figuring out ways to make it easier.

Of all the things I’ve had to cut out though I will tell you alcohol (namely wine) has been hands down the hardest.

That little experiment, as I eventually came to look at it (tip #1), has been one of the most eye opening experiences of my life.

If you really want to learn a few things about yourself, stop drinking for a bit. It’s like a litmus test for what you like, what you don’t, who you like, who you don’t, etc. (more on that below…).

Turns out we put up with a whole lotta crap when we know we can drink through it.

The biggest a-ha tho has been how intertwined booze is in everything we do.

Alcohol is so accepted and expected, when you don’t drink, it’s weird. 

And THAT is what makes it so hard to stay “dry.”

Once again…

Living a healthy lifestyle in a world that makes it impossible to do so is an act of rebellion. 

There’s a book I read last year that validated everything and then some from my dry “experiments” it’s called Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker (that’s Holly in the pic with me at her book signing in Austin).

If you’re on the dry wagon/wanna be this book will help you stay/get there.

It will open your eyes, piss you off, and make you say HOLY SHIT.

A few examples…

  • The play the alcohol industry took from cigarette makers
  • How they sneakily got women to start drinking more
  • Why AA doesn’t work for the majority of the population (especially women)
  • How hangover anxiety is a real thing and what it’s really doing in your body
  • What works to quit/change your relationship with alcohol without white knuckling it

One more thing… this book highlighted how in traditional rehab models (think AA) success = abstaining. And it makes the same point I always come back to about food…

When we focus on what we’re trying not to eat (or drink) it’s 100x harder than focusing on what you want to ADD in instead. 

The more you add in in life too – purpose, passion, creativity, joy, love, compassion – the things that aren’t serving you, or that take you away from the path to these things, just sort of fall away.

I know it’s a scary thing to start to question this stuff….

CHANGE is scary AF.

I feel like now more than ever though it’s so important that we do (you’ll see what I mean in the book).

This isn’t about quitting alcohol for good – I’m not saying that’s the answer. I don’t want that to be the answer.

I think it’s time we look critically at the whole thing. At least for me it’s helped me come back to it with more awareness, more intention and more enjoyment.

OK, I want to leave you with a few more of those ways I’ve figured to make the “dry” thing easier. So if you’re on Dry January or drying out in whatever capacity, I hope these help (note: some may not apply as readily in a pandemic but I have faith we will socialize one day again soon!)…

Tips for Dry January (or just drying out in general)

  1. Treat it like an experiment. See what it’s like to not be drinking. Notice what gives you the urge to drink, when it’s harder not to drink, how others react to you skipping it, how others act while drinking… Just take it all in and see what you can learn about yourself and drinking culture.
  2. Keep the ritual. Say you have a glass of wine while making dinner. Keep everything else the same just change what’s in the glass. Pour yourself some sparkling water with a splash of juice or a squeeze of lime. Make it pretty. Keep everything else the same just replace the booze.
  3. Collect data. Notice what feels harder to do or that you flat out don’t want to do if you can’t drink. Then edit accordingly.
  4. Avoid people you don’t like. You’ll be less tempted to have a drink to take the edge off… Again, edit accordingly.
  5. Make sure there’s something you can drink. If you’re going somewhere check with your host first or even ask if there’s anything you can bring and then bring whatever it is that you’d want to drink (ie. a cocktail, sparkling water, kombucha, etc.).
  6. Focus on the conversation and connection. Instead of thinking about what you’ll be drinking, focus on the people that will be there. Who haven’t you seen in a long time? Who do you really want to talk to? Focus on connecting the people you’re with and the food/drinks will fall into the background.
  7. When it’s not fun anymore, leave. There will probably come a time when everyone else is a few or a lot of drinks in and it’s getting, well annoying. Just leave.
  8. Plan something for the next morning. Schedule a workout class, breakfast or coffee with a friend – something to look forward to that you have to get up to do. That’s going to motivate you to stick to the plan so you can get up, feel good and be productive the next day.

So what do you think?

I’d love to know – are you drying out these days? Or are you more of a “hell no, never!” or maybe somewhere in between?? Tell us in the comments will you?

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