It’s January, and you know what that means: New Year’s resolution season. No other resolution can claim a growing global movement behind their cause like Dry January.
It’s January, and you know what that means: New Year’s resolution season. For some it’s diet, others exercise. Maybe a reduction in screen time or a commitment to silencing those Slack notifications during off hours. All commendable efforts, but none can claim a growing global movement behind their cause.
Dry January, also known as "Sobriety for the New Year," is an annual campaign that encourages individuals to take a break from alcohol for the month of January. You can’t miss it across social feeds and media coverage, as many people look for a break from drinking due to the higher rates of alcohol consumption during the holidays. In recent years, Dry January has gained popularity as a way for individuals to examine their drinking habits and improve overall health and wellness. Now, hundreds of thousands of people participate every year. In the US alone, nearly 1 in 5 adults reported they were participating in 2022.
Dry January started in 2013 by the non profit Alcohol Change UK, but over the years it has steadily grown in popularity. The past decade has seen research efforts into the effects of alcohol use paint a clearer picture of the risks and dangers that come with drinking. It is now accepted that excessive alcohol use can have serious effects on an individual's physical and mental health.
According to the CDC, excessive alcohol use is responsible for approximately 1 in 5 deaths of US adults 20-49, the leading cause of preventable death. Excessive alcohol consumption can also increase the risk of developing certain cancers, liver disease, and cardiovascular diseases. In addition to the physical health risks, excessive alcohol consumption can also contribute to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
The negative side of alcohol is clear, but what many don’t realize is how rapidly they can see the benefits of abstinence or even moderation. Cutting back on alcohol consumption can have a positive impact on cardiovascular health, and can help to lower blood pressure as well.
Alcohol use is known to exacerbate and even cause depression and anxiety. Time away from drinking gives the brain the ability to replenish all of the neurotransmitters, chemicals, and signals that get disrupted by frequent alcohol consumption. This can help the body and brain re-stabilize, and reduce mental health challenges.
Another benefit of reducing alcohol intake is improved sleep. Alcohol disrupts the body’s sleep architecture, and so reducing drinking can result in more restful nights that help recharge the body and lead to more productive days at work.
Many people are surprised to see just how much they save by not spending on alcohol for 31 days. Per the Journal of Health Psychology, 79% of Dry January participants reported that they saved money. On top of the money saved from not buying alcohol, you’ll also save money on hangover cures, late-night food ordering, and cab rides.
Additionally, improved liver health is also a benefit of reduced alcohol consumption. The liver is responsible for breaking down and removing toxins from the body, including alcohol. Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage, but abstaining from alcohol can help to reduce the risk of these conditions and improve overall liver function.
Alcohol plays an inextricable role in our work culture today, and it is a difficult subject to address. Client dinners, company functions, or even casual after work drinks are just a few of the work-related activities involving alcohol that have been normalized. Dry January gives HR leaders a great opportunity to start engaging around this important topic when it is already a topic of conversation among their employees.
Promoting Dry January can help companies in three ways:
By promoting Dry January, you are increasing the likelihood that vulnerable employees will seek treatment, and start taking the important steps to change their relationship with alcohol.
There are several ways that you can promote Dry January to your employees. One simple option is to use your company’s social channels to share a note of encouragement about the Dry January movement. This may prompt discussion with employees who are interested in getting involved or leading a company effort. Another option is to create a company-wide challenge or competition to encourage participation. You can also offer resources and support to employees who are participating in Dry January, such as providing access to wellness resources or hosting events and activities that do not involve alcohol. The non-alcoholic beverages category grew to $11 billion in 2022, and there is a wide variety of options to offer at company gatherings.
Remember, it’s never too late to get involved. Even a week-long challenge at your company to close out Dry January can have countless benefits. It can also help your employees chart a healthy course for February, March and beyond.
If you're an HR professional trying to figure out the best way to implement a responsible alcohol culture, Monument can help. As a member of the TroopHR network, you will be eligible for preferred pricing. Email us or visit our partner page to tell us how we can help your organization.