The holiday season tends to be one of excess, even in the era of virtual meetups and celebrations: multi-course meals, decadent desserts and tons of boozy toasts (think: party punch, mulled wine, and of course, bottles of bubbles on New Year’s Eve). As a result, more and more people are ringing in the new year with a month-long break from alcohol— a movement that’s become known as Dry January. Here’s what you need to know about participating.

1. Dry January started as a way to raise money for alcohol abuse awareness and treatment.

A non-profit group kicked off the movement in 2013, but it’s taken on a life of its own since then. Last year, 14 percent of American adults said they planned to participate in Dry January, according to a YouGov poll.

"My first Dry January, in 2017, started with a silly bet on New Year's Eve,” says Hilary Sheinbaum, a writer in New York, NY who turned her five years of participation into an upcoming book: The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month. “The goal was to complete a full 31 days without booze, and the winner would have dinner paid for at any restaurant in New York City by the person who drank. Although I won a fancy meal at Momofuku Ko, I gained much more. My skin was clearer. I slept better and I had so much more energy, so my productivity throughout the day was unparalleled."

Heineken

2. Alcohol abstinence is pretty trendy year-round right now.

Fifty-two percent of respondents have increased their consumption of alcohol-free beer and mocktails since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey conducted by Heineken® found. Forty-two percent of those surveyed said they were likely to choose an alcohol-free beer because it allows them to drink in moderation. Heineken® 0.0, for example, boasts the rich malty flavor regular beer drinkers appreciate without the alcohol, making enjoying a cold one any time more appropriate and fun.

The growing interest in non-alcoholic drinks isn’t just a response to the pandemic; it’s part of a larger movement: Lower alcohol content in drinks was the number one trend in a recent Cocktail Trends Report, Google searches for the term “mocktail” increased by 42 percent last year and the IWSR Drinks Market Analysis predicts low- and no-alcohol beer sales will continue to grow by nearly six percent per year through 2024. More people than ever are “sober curious”— a term that popped up in 2018— and alcohol-free beers and mocktails are allowing them to explore that trend.

3. Dry January doesn’t mean you can’t have a beer with friends.

Thanks to the proliferation of mocktails and non-alcoholic beers like Heineken® 0.0, you can still enjoy a drink without breaking your Dry January streak. Watching the big game? Catching up with friends for a virtual happy hour? Want a cold one after a tough workout? In the case of a Heineken® 0.0, you’re getting the same traditional flavor of a crisp, light pint— it just happens to have no alcohol in it. That means no hangovers, no disrupting your health goals and no feeling left out while your friends do imbibe. 

The point of Dry January isn’t to give up alcohol for good, or to avoid any situation where you might encounter alcohol. It’s more about assessing how alcohol fits into your life. And with so many no-alcohol beers and mocktails available now, you can turn untraditional beer drinking moments—like after a workout—into times when you can enjoy a drink without concern.

4. Dry January can help set balanced habits for the rest of the year. 

Dry January may only last 31 days, but the benefits of introducing moderation into daily life can stretch well into the rest of the year. Six months after completing Dry January, those who participated reported having fewer drinks per day, drinking fewer days a week, and getting drunk less often in a 2016 study published in the journal Health Psychology

By finding balance at the year’s outset, New York-based editor Molly Ritterbeck has found the effects far-reaching. “Doing Dry January helped me see that not drinking is NBD— even at bars, restaurants or with friends. Throughout the year, I knew I could go a week or two (or three) without any alcohol.” 

So, why not give it a try?

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