The holidays have come and gone, and as you breathe one final sigh of relief as your in laws and stress levels return from whence they came, you may also notice some unfavored changes with your relationship to alcohol. Enter dry January. 

Holidays are notorious for Americans upping their alcohol consumption, and as we struggle to return to real life, we may notice that we’re leaning on alcohol a little too heavily.

Whether you’re sleeping like garbage and waking up terrified in pools of sweat, or just tasting a hazy IPA in the back of your throat every time you get into a spat with your spouse, the ushering of a new year is a great time to consider pumping the brakes and taking a month away from alcohol.

Here’s a guide to stomping dry January.

When in Doubt, Taper Out

Contrary to what society would have you believe, there’s no shame in accidental alcohol dependence. For many fraternal organizations, college students, and bored 20-somethings, it’s a fine part of coming of age, like losing your virginity in an embarrassing fashion or having court-mandated therapists.

If you have been binging heavily throughout the holiday season or consistently drinking for multiple days in a row, it’s important to consider tapering off alcohol so as to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms mirror that of a hangover. Severe alcohol withdrawal includes seizures, hallucinations and Delirium Tremens (DTs). 

Although severe alcohol withdrawal is usually reserved for the most current and practiced alcoholics, anyone who has drank for an extended period of time is going to want to taper off alcohol gradually so as to avoid the sudden shellshock of abstinence. The best way to taper is usually with beer, and it’s usually to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink by one or two units per day until you get down to zero. 

Tapering isn’t required of everyone, but it can’t hurt if there’s a chance the drinker’s body is accustomed to alcohol.

Find your substitutes

We here at Rooster are firm believers that half the addiction isn’t behind the actual alcohol, but how nice it is to consistently be sipping on things. Find replacements that you can drink throughout the day to help scratch the alcoholic urge. Teas, kombuchas, juices and non-alcoholic beers are some of our favorite alternatives for drinking when we aren’t drinking.

Establish a Support System

If you’re going to take the chance of being miserable for a month in the hopes of detoxing, the least you could do is drag all your friends along for the journey. The most successful stints of sobriety we’ve had have been when we’ve also made it a challenge amongst our friend group.

Prepare for the Changes

Your mind and body will begin to alter themselves shortly after you take your last drink, and it’s important to anticipate these changes and be cognitively aware of them. For instance, you may become  irrationally upset, oftentimes even at inanimate objects. As your mood shifts during the first few days of Dry January, it’s important to remember the goal you put in place, as well as how the challenge will become easier with time.

Alcohol is also an appetite suppressant because of how it inflames the stomach post-consumption. When you stop drinking, anticipate turning into a unstoppable Hoover vacuum of calorie consumption, and plan accordingly.

Because we always end up eating a ridiculous amount following alcohol cessation, we like to tie in our Dry January with some sort of fitness regimen. Lifting weights, riding bikes or running from the police are all fantastic ways to help mitigate mood, diet and bodily performance.

If you need any more motivation for taking a month off, let us promise you that the first drink after a month away tastes and feels like that first drink you had when you were 16, and who wouldn’t want that experience again?