Why do we find 30-odd days of sobriety such a challenge? Is it that we lack the willpower? Or are we just not willing to let go of a good thing? .. (even for one month)
January is a funny time of the year: In a bid to rid ourselves of the excess drink that we consumed over the last few months, it’s normal practice to “take it easy” during the first month of the new year. It’s almost like going to confession to rid our bodies of any unearthly sins (in this case, toxins), but it’s not too long before we do it all over again.
Our relationship with Dry Jan happens in stages. Determination comes first: you’re determined to keep your social life on track even though you’ll be drinking soft drinks while your friends get increasingly rowdy.
Then anger: why should you have to give up something that makes you happy? Followed by depression. And finally, bargaining; telling yourself that one glass of wine this evening won’t do any harm, and since it’s only one glass it doesn’t even count.
We know that over time, excessive drinking can lead to learning, memory, and mental health problems, including dementia, depression, and anxiety, so ridding your body of alcohol – even just for one month – has obvious health benefits such as improved memory, as well as higher levels of energy and concentration.
We also know that problematic drinking is a huge social issue here, and we’ve yet to tackle it head on; although there are initiatives like drinkaware, Alcohol.ie, and Alcohol Action Ireland that is helping those come to terms and deal with alcoholism.
From a non-drinkers point of view I can sympathise with anyone attempting Dry Jan this month: pubs can be a daunting place to be when sober, but there are a few gems around Dublin’s City Centre that offer more than a drink (try Sophies for a good pizza and views of the city, Bagots Hutton for dreamy interiors and nighttime entertainment, and P.Mac’s for a cosy catch up and old-fashioned board games and sweets).
Be open with friends and family so that the temptation isn’t there. Having their support will ease the burden, and they might even join in too (competition to see who can go the longest, anyone?)
If you do want to make the change and actually commit to drinking less alcohol, why not try ‘moderate January’ instead of dry January instead; even if your friend is offering to buy the next round.
And if you find yourself tempted this weekend, why not try a saunter around the Dublin Flea Markets, take in the culture and art at IMMA or see a classic movie at the very cool Lighthouse Cinema instead.