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Rainy Days and a Dry January

Participating in a “Dry January” has nothing to do with all the rain that has been falling on New York so far this month. A Dry January is when a person elects to curtail their alcohol usage for the first 31 days of the year. While this may not seem as fun as National Novel Writing Month, it is a worthwhile exercise in willpower and an experiment in addiction.

With over 10,000 bars in New York City alone (and new bars opening up every day), it’s clear that alcohol consumption is an inextricable aspect of American Culture. Sure, there is the straight edge movement, and a growing percentage of health-conscious individuals who are swearing off the swill, but we remain far from prohibition. Microbrewing has exploded in the past ten years to the point that you can almost gauge the popularity of a growing city by how many local breweries are churning out their take on the vaunted IPA.

And so, with self-awareness en vogue as it is, we find ourselves with a month-long opportunity to assess our level of dependence on this most viscous of vices.

Some opt to simply curtail their intake. They imbibe on weekends only and attempt to navigate the stresses of the workweek without their “wind-down” cocktail to massage away the daily stresses. It’s a noble effort, though perhaps more telling about a person’s dependence considering that they’ve proven themselves unable to doff the drink entirely for the month. Is sobriety such a disconcerting notion? What difference does a snifter of Buffalo Trace make anyway? What about a glass of wine? Doctors say that it’s good for your heart! And a single beer shouldn’t even count! Right?

Justifications to keep drinking dance around our heads like sugarplums on the Big Rock Candy Mountain. And reasons to give up drinking, even for a month, elude most of us. Indeed sometimes it seems like there’s an entire industry invested in obfuscating the long list of reasons to give up booze. I mean, alcohol at its root is a poison. Being “drunk” is reveling in the euphoria of liver damage. Alcoholism is as rampant as it is damaging to families and relationships. Some folks can’t even sleep without their nightcap.

Whatever your reason to participate, perhaps you need a little guidance on how to make it through the perilous seas of sobriety for a whole 31 days. If you can’t NOT go to bars, then it may be time to reacquaint yourself with the refreshing flavor of a club soda and lime. It even looks like a cocktail so your friends may end up non the wiser. If you’re at home, Mocktail companies like Seedlip make a distilled herbal spirit that’s worthy of being both shaken and stirred. For beer lovers, Spindrift is a low-sugar fizzy lifting drink that won’t aggravate your liver.

Drinking alcohol is so deeply imbued in our culture that a month without it may be harder than you think. Episodics like Mad Men with their glossy (usually) representation of drinking without ramifications have the tendency to engender sympathy drinks. Friendly get-togethers often center around “having drinks” or “grabbing a brewski.” And modern life at times can feel almost too stressful to endure without some measure of numbness.

However, it is exactly for these reasons that Dry January exists. By exorcizing the spirits that possess us, we can learn alternative means of coping. We may exercise more, read more, explore game nights or other hobbies, and even perhaps venture out of our comfort zone and make new friends who encourage us to further pursue that elusive “healthy lifestyle” our docs keep prescribing us.

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