Giving up alcohol for ‘Dry January’ in the New Year

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s a brand new year and, for many of us, it means new lifestyle changes, including cutting back on alcohol.

They call it “Dry January” and the goal is for participants to reevaluate and reset their relationship with alcohol. As it turns out, even taking a short break can have some positive impacts on your health.

“Physically, higher alcohol content has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other chronic medical conditions, so we think reducing alcohol intake can help reduce risk with those. For some people, drinking also helps them feel less anxious or stressed, but there could be a bit of a rebound effect. Drinking can make those worse and it can also contribute to depression,” said Kristina Sowar, an associate professor for UNM’s Department of Psychiatry.

Reducing alcohol can have positive impacts on someone’s overall mental health and, while cutting back cold turkey can be easy for some, health officials say it’s hard for some. It’s especially hard for those who are more dependent on alcohol. At that point, it’s worth it to seek professional help.

Health officials also say, even if you’re not sober for the whole month, cutting back little by little throughout the year can be a big help.

If you’re participating in Dry January, many bars offer non-alcoholic drinks so you can still socialize and stick to your goals.