Dry January and the Journey to Healthier Drinking Habits

Users icon
For Individuals
3 min read


At Pelago, substance use management means understanding the impacts of substances on one’s body and managing one’s substance use to a healthy state. Along with the new year comes a refreshing new opportunity to re-examine one’s relationship with alcohol: Dry January. This annual tradition has gained traction worldwide, encouraging individuals to take a break from alcohol for the month of January.

Why Now? 

Fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic included an overall increase in alcohol consumption in the U.S. According to a survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open, alcohol consumption among all adults increased by 14% from 2019 to 2020. And women, with biological differences that leave them at higher risk of alcohol misuse, exhibited a 41% increase in heavy drinking compared to 2019.

Furthermore, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), per capita alcohol consumption in the United States has increased in the past couple of decades to reach 2.51 gallons of ethanol (ethyl alcohol) per capita in 2021. And although opioids grab most of the headlines, alcohol-related deaths are far more prevalent than deaths from opioids and other drugs, making alcohol one of the leading preventable causes of death in the nation.

Origins of Dry January

The concept of a Dry January dates back to 2012. The increasingly popular trend started as a public health initiative from Alcohol Change UK, a charity that works to reduce the harm from alcohol consumption. The formal campaign is a 31-day, alcohol-free challenge for a total body and mind reset, but it’s also the perfect time to re-examine our relationship with alcohol for the long term.

That’s why this year, Pelago – in collaboration with our clients – has developed a “31 and Done” campaign for their employees and members. Whether looking to cut back or quit drinking, the Pelago campaign offers members a chance to kickstart a healthier 2024 and reset their drinking habits.

According to research, individuals who participate in Dry January experience improved sleep, enhanced mood, and reduced alcohol consumption even after the month ends. For example, a study from the University of Sussex found that taking part in Dry January leads to better sleep, more energy, and improved mood. A recent review of one-month alcohol abstinence campaigns found that even a short break from alcohol results in immediate benefits, including weight loss, better sleep, improved mood and energy, a better diet, and increased physical activity.

Pelago’s Approach: Damp January

At Pelago, we’re focused on providing guidance, support and treatment for members who want to cut back, stop or otherwise manage their substance use, including alcohol. And because we understand that one size doesn’t fit all, we also embrace the concept of a Damp January– a flexible approach that allows members to tailor the challenge to their needs. Employees and health plan members may choose to abstain from alcohol entirely for the 31 days of January, or opt for more mindful drinking practices to achieve individual health goals.

Through our digital substance use management platform, we’re doing our part to support our members in their Dry January journey and beyond. But whether you’re a member of our program or not, January 2024 could be your chance to take a second look at your relationship with alcohol and reset your drinking habits. You just might discover some amazing benefits that go along with eliminating or cutting back on alcohol during Dry January.

For additional support and resources, check to see if your company covers Pelago, and learn about how we can support your employees and health plan members in January beyond.

Say hello to brighter days together

Get started quickly. Save costs. Change lives forever.