Day 1: Welcome to Dryuary 2022! Reset. Reflect. Rejuvenate.

white ice on brown rock

re·ju·ve·nate: restore (a river or stream) to a condition characteristic of a younger landscape.

Your grandfather used to say you can’t fix a broken wagon wheel, but you can use the parts to make a new one.” — John Dutton (Yellowstone)

Have you ever been to Yellowstone? The park that is. 

It is by no means a pristine landscape. The rivers there are backed up and diverted from their originally intended paths by fallen trees and beaver dams and did you know the prismatic colors of the hot sulphur springs are caused by bacteria? Then, there are all of us faulty humans that pass through it by the thousands every year, leaving behind inevitable remnants of our presence.

Yellowstone is a tainted landscape.

Still, the rivers and hot springs keep flowing, their imperfections only serving to make them even more incredible and, somehow, relatable to us faulty humans. This beautiful place struggles every day to survive and to remain, at its core, itself. Just like us. 

Happy New Year and Welcome to Dryuary 2022!

Some of us are doing Dryuary for the first time and some of us are doing it for the umpteenth time. Some of us are doing it for health reasons, some of us are doing it for spiritual/mental reasons and some of us are doing it for both. Some of us are planning a Dryuary that is completely free from alcohol and some of us are planning a Dryuary that is mostly free from alcohol.

The one common ground we stand on this month is our intention to rejuvenate our personal landscape to a younger landscape . A robust and natural landscape. A clear and hopeful landscape.

Most of us signed up for Dryuary with the primary intention of remaining alcohol-free this month and that, alone, would be a major accomplisment. Except…Dryuary has the potential to be so much more. If instead, remaining alcohol-free becomes the catalyst-not the goal of Dryuary-remaining alcohol-free can and will precipitate rejuvenation as our end result.

This morning many of us may feel that rejuvenation is a long shot and we may even be reconsidering this whole Dryuary thing we signed up for. Our landscape is littered with the flotsam and jetsam of the overindulgence of the past few months. We find ourselves stumbling over regrets we’ve collected in the last year. Our landscape seems contaminated beyond redemption.

But, it isn’t.

Let’s take a few minutes to focus, not on our present landscape and not on the catalyst of remaining alcohol-free this month, but on that rejuvenated landscape of ours. How would it look different than it does today? Could it be healthier? Thriving, even? Could it be more peaceful? How do we want to feel when we do a 360 turn to survey all that is ours? To what lengths will we be willing to go to preserve it, to hold on to it? What do we want our landscape to look like at the end of the month? And, since Dryuary is a good beginning, how do we envision that continued rejuvenation throughout the seasons of 2022?

Today is our starting point. We are going to use our envisioned landscapes to encourage ourselves this month. Our landscape doesn’t have to be pristine, as a matter of fact, it won’t be. None of us are unaltered or unscarred by life. However, we can return to a younger version of ourselves where our positive energy and creative interests are no longer backed up or diverted by drinking.

This is your Yellowstone.

Our wish for you is that the landscape of Dryuary 2022 contains meadows of forgotten but familiar joys, hidden glades of restorative calm and mountains of compassionate support.

Share the vision of your rejuvenated landscape with us here in the comments below, the Dryuary 2022 Facebook group or the Dryuary Forum.


P.S. Some of you might have hesitated about joining Dryuary 2022 because you have a special event this month which you would like to celebrate with a toast or a fine glass of wine. Other Dry Month campaigns, such as Dry July in Australia, offer certificates for a donation that permit the participant to take a day off from their alcohol-free obligation. We do not offer certificates but if making a donation to Moderation Management, the host of Dryuary or a charity of your choice will free you from any negative feelings you might have for not remaining 100% alcohol-free, that’s perfectly fine with us. It is much more important to us that you continue rejuvenating your landscape rather than quit because you celebrated an occasion with a glass of your favorite alcoholic beverage.





Day 2: Incentives Are Good!

shallow focus photography of woman standing on snow field looking her backj

“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”

Johann Hari

My first Dryuary was last year, January 2021. I had successfully managed 30 days of abstinence once before, prior to finding MM, by sheer white knuckling, and I drank on day 31 to excess. For many years, I have stated I would be sober in January, and usually made it about 10 days before completely throwing in the towel, and going right back to my usual level of drinking. 

So what was different last year? 

To start with, I was tired of playing the same games with myself around drinking. I was tired of thinking about it. With the insanity that was early 2020, my daily drinking reached an all time high due to my pandemic anxiety. School was shut down, work was looking very different, and it seemed like each new day brought more surprises. As many of us know, drinking actually tends to exacerbate anxiety, and I realized it was time for a change. I needed to focus on my health and wellbeing in ways that served me and didn’t harm me. After spending months in a haze, my best friend and I decided to take up backpacking, and started planning a 3 day trip into the Mt. Hood Wilderness in Oregon. Drinking every day did not coincide well with hiking multiple times a week. I started to cut back simply to avoid hungover physical activity. I also could not afford the weight of alcohol in my backpack, so I had to be able to string together at least 4 days of sobriety to do this trip. I am happy to report we were successful and I have kept up regular hiking since that time, as being in the woods helps to keep me balanced and focused on what matters. 

Right around the same time I started hiking, I found this amazing community on Facebook, Moderation Management. I started engaging in posts and learning about the tools to delay and reduce my drinking. All the other groups I had tried over the years were abstinence focused, and this group focused instead on reduction. There was no “day one” and no resetting myself to zero if I had a slip, making me feel like a failure. I now had a group to share both my struggles and my wins with. 

When January 2021 rolled around, I joined the Dryuary group. I also started reading a book, Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker, that I had been hearing good things about. Last year’s Dryuary group also started a book club meeting about this book. It was my first MM meeting, and I really enjoyed the conversations and community. The combination of “quit lit” and book club conversations around it, along with the Dryuary and MM facebook groups, kept me motivated through the month, and before I knew it, the month was up! 

Following Dryuary, I was able to complete another 5 months of sobriety, staying abstinent through the first half of the year. Without MM, I don’t know that I would have been able to maintain this. 

MM arrived in my life just when I needed the additional support to start making real life long changes to my relationship with alcohol. Though my journey has not been perfect, and I have occasionally overindulged, I can tell you that 2021 is the most time sober I have logged, aside from pregnancy. MM keeps me connected to a group that supports my healthy choices and lifts me up with encouragement if I slip. Dryuary was a huge part of the catalyst to making these changes. 

Bio: Wendy S 

Wendy is a social worker and married mom of two teenaged boys. She comes from a family with a long history of “functional alcoholism” and is working hard to break that pattern for her children. Wendy is an ambassador for Athletic Brewing Company (non-alcoholic beer) and writes an outdoors blog with a friend in additional to her work and family life. You can find her blog at https://twomiddleagedmoms.wordpress.com/ Instagram handle @twomiddleagedmoms

Day 3: No One Gets Sober During The Holidays

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

Barack Obama

No one gets sober during the holidays. While they can be an exciting time to reflect on the previous year, make resolutions, and reconnect with loved ones, the holidays are often also extremely stressful. And stress is a major trigger for addiction relapse, which can make the holidays a particularly difficult time for people who are struggling with their own drinking. 

However, with the New Year being the epitome of a fresh start, January is often a time when people want to get a better handle on their drinking or drug use. This is why so many who struggle with alcohol take on the challenge of Dryuary – a decade-old international celebration of alcohol abstinence. Where committing to abstinence is difficult for many, Dry January offers an appealing, community-driven, and inclusive approach to going sober in the new year. I myself have been participating for the past 7 years.

What is Dry January?

Dry January is a one-month challenge created by Alcohol Change UK. It started in 2012 with 4,000 people and has grown to 4 million people taking part in the 2018 challenge.

The research tells us that alcohol consumption during the holiday period peaks during the two-week period just prior to Christmas until New Year’s Day. Binge-drinking is at its highest during this time, but that’s probably not news to you.

In 2013, researchers focused on the effects of the Dry January campaign. Of the people who participated in the challenge and the survey afterward, seven out of ten people reported they were drinking less heavily six months later than before the campaign. Not only that, but many had moved from “harmful” levels of drinking to “low” levels of drinking.

I’ve experienced a substantial reduction in drinking for months after every January in which I’ve participated as well.

So, why is going sober in January so appealing to people? Well, there are many of us who may feel we drink a little too much sometimes, but we don’t consider ourselves an “alcoholic” or a “binge-drinker.” What if you were thinking, “actually, I’d like to cut down a bit and lose weight, save money, maybe start a family?” The beauty of this challenge is that it helps unify people, it destigmatizes the notion of “alcoholism” as it’s not necessarily aimed at people with an addiction. Dryuary is about transforming your relationship with alcohol, taking some time off drinking, and observing the impact. The side-effect is that some people continue to stay sober or resume a healthier pattern of drinking.

Why a Dryuary resolution can work for you

Let’s look at the pros of Dryuary and some of the reported benefits of going sober for one month:

• More mindful of alcohol consumption

• It’s better for your overall health and wellbeing

• You may lose weight as a standard drink typically has around 150 calories

• You’ll likely feel more alert and better able to concentrate

• Your sleep may improve (alcohol can disrupt sleep and even cause insomnia)

• You will be more hydrated (alcohol dehydrates your body and skin)

• Many people experience increased energy and motivation

• You will save money

And when you participate in a community challenge like Dryuary, there’s a sense of camaraderie and pride in knowing you’re doing something good for yourself and others. It can feel less shameful to say “I’m participating in the Dryuary challenge” than “I’ve decided to stop drinking…”

What’s more, if you cut down on drinking in the long-term you lower your risk of developing more than 60 different alcohol-related health conditions such as liver disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and depression.

That’s not a bad bonus.

Reasons Dryuary may not work for you

There are a few circumstances under which Dryuary may not be the best option for you:

• If you experience severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, seizures, sweating, appetite loss the likes, then stopping “cold-turkey” can be dangerous to your health, particularly if you have been a heavy and daily drinker for years.

• If you go “cold turkey” you may be tempted to replace drinking with other unhealthy habits (such as smoking or eating high-sugar drinks or food) to cope with the withdrawals or the underlying issues that drive you to drink

Abstinence may cause future binging. When you deprive yourself of something for a period of time then it may cause the opposite effect when it is reintroduced. You could end up drinking more than you did before!

Helpful hint: Try managing the ‘sugar crash’ (cravings for sweets) associated with alcohol withdrawals by replacing it with healthy fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado, as well as vegetables such as cauliflower, asparagus, and broccoli. These foods will help keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Also, replace the alcohol with drinks you love like Le Croix, Ginger beer, or seltzer water. That way you still get to enjoy a drink you enjoy!

Should YOU go sober in January?

Dryuary is a good answer for those looking to sample abstinence but may be scared of committing in the long run. Aside from the physical danger (in which case you shouldn’t participate), it’s a solid way to take a little time off from booze and to experience some of the benefits listed above like enhanced physical health, better mental health, and improved sleep.

Dr. Adi Jaffe is the founder of IGNTD Hero Program and author of the book, The Abstinence Myth

Day 4: Find The Right Balance

January calendar

Forget your perfect offering.  There is a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.  

Leonard Cohen.

Moderation Management (MM) supports the practice of doing a month-long abstinence period to redefine our relationship with alcohol.  Indeed, the rising popularity of “Dryuary” and “Sober October”  show society is shifting its alcohol consumption.

Of course, the pandemic helped shape our re-evaluation of booze intake.  In the beginning, cringingly relatable memes of people trying to make the most of social isolation by drinking at mid-day in their PJs eventually made us all feel a little uncomfortable, even queasy.  Like day drinking, in theory this “freedom” to imbibe “consequence free” sounds like a fun idea.  Once the hangover starts to set in and it isn’t even suppertime yet, we are suddenly exposed to the frightening downside: only continual drinking can keep those icky feelings at bay, and frankly, that is not sustainable.

As the pandemic stretched on, we came to realize maybe we should use this enforced downtime more wisely.  Maybe we should attempt to correct our habits by examining what exactly booze is offering us.  Even before the pandemic, studies are suggesting younger generations are becoming more sober-curious .  No and low alcohol sales are booming.  If you’ve been questioning your drinking, you’re not alone. 

There are many benefits for doing extended periods of time alcohol free.  For me, the first major benefit is learning to deal with cravings.  The more I surf urges, the more resiliency I rediscover to cope with situations that used to send me into the arms of my frenemy: wine.  I am grateful to be leaving the binge-restrict cycle in my past, and I feel increasingly proud of myself with how I am managing my emotions and trusting my own strength.  A big part of this success is sitting with my negative emotions and allowing them to process.  I could only do this alcohol free.

The second major benefit is rediscovering the natural joys of life.  The intensity of these joys are subtle in the beginning stages of being alcohol free.  Instead of them being an intense spike of dopamine like a glass or three of wine, they are more of a lightness of heart, a sense of well-being and contentedness.  In my experience, I needed more alcohol-free time for this well-being to gain traction.

The third major benefit is less anxiety.  Way less anxiety.  Added boons to being a temporary teetotaler include successfully handling awkward events: the only way to learn how to deal with those tricky situations alcohol free is to be alcohol free.  Not to mention the endless health benefits that come with not drinking.  These transformative things have space to happen when we commit to doing a month-long period without alcohol.

Now, the dark side of doing a month-long period of abstinence.

The first big issue is the demoralization we experience if we drink in our 30/31-day endeavor.  I don’t know how many posts I’ve read in the MM community of people gutted with their choice to drink, despite their best intentions.  The level of self-loathing is bleak.  The same often happens when someone successfully completes a 30/31-day period without drinking but then over-indulges almost immediately after it’s completed.  The language folks use to describe themselves, and how they convince themselves they are failures and must start back at “day one” only to be caught in an endless cycle of Day Ones….  How is this helping us change our drinking?  How is this self-mortification making our lives better?  Usually, chronic negative feelings lead to the urge to numb them or escape them, making us more vulnerable to increased drinking once again.  The endless Day Ones create a Groundhog Day existence.

I believe this tendency to beat ourselves up comes from us hitching our identity wagon to the pursuit of perfection: to some of us, 30/31 days alcohol free is a form of perfectionism.  If we can do 30/31 days AF, we can prove to ourselves, once and for all, that we are good, worthy people.

Yes, it is natural, and maybe even helpful for us to feel disappointed when we let ourselves down.  The key to success in changing our drinking is to use that disappointment to spur action, and that action is picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off, giving our hearts a hug, and getting back on track.  Not starting over but getting back on track.  Relentlessly chastising ourselves does not work.  If it did, we’d all be “perfect humans” by now.  Is your goal to punish yourself for your perceived shortcomings or to make progress?

Sometimes I see counting alcohol free days like a child dependent on collecting gold stars of approval from their teacher.  As adults, that “teacher” we are seeking approval from could be our inner critic, someone who hurt us in the past, or a dire need to control things.  Is the point of being alcohol free only to collect these gold stars?  Or is it to improve our quality of life?

So maybe the question is less about if we should do a 30/31 and more about how we do a 30.  Alcohol free time is massively beneficial if we focus on how to live our best lives instead of collecting sober days.  

MM’s logo is a set of balanced scales, and yes, moderation is a form of finding balance between drinking and our lives.  But the scales symbolize finding balance in all areas of our lives, including our thinking.  It is our minds that influence our drinking.  Balance our minds; balance our drinking.

Drinking during Dryuary and thinking we are failures tips the scale dangerously to one side.  Some people fear attempting a Dryuary because they worry they will fail, and this anxiety may keep them from trying at all.  Yes, aiming for 30/31 completely abstinent days is a worthwhile challenge, and the difficult times will be the most rewarding if you stay alcohol free.  If you drink despite your best intentions, use Dryuary as an opportunity to find the way to restore balance.  Be curious about what works and what doesn’t for you.  Don’t use the stumbles as evidence you can’t do it, use it as proof you are learning a new way of being.

Submitted by Lisa H.

Day 5: Caution! Living Alcohol-Free Can Be Habit-Forming

woman wearing hoodie spreading her arm near trees with snows


“Drink because you are happy but never because you are miserable.”

~ G.K. Chesterton

I remember when I first decided to go sober for a while.  Like most people it wasn’t a decision I took lightly.  I initially decided to do sober October and I remember the look of incredulity on the faces of my friends and family (well the ones who hadn’t realised that I was actually ill and dying from my alcohol abuse).  To most people I was the party girl, you would always find me last to leave, telling animated stories and then ridiculing myself the next day with tales of how drunk I was and what an amazing time I had.  This was never true, inside was a crippling anxiety that I hid.  One of the most important people in my life (my 10-year-old son) said to me, I don’t think you can do sober October Mum.  You like your wine too much.  Truth be told I didn’t know if I could do it either but I knew I had to try.

It was a bit like jumping off a cliff without a parachute. I hadn’t really given it any thought as to how I was practically going to do this but I just knew that I had to give it a go.  The last drink I had before I went sober was red wine and I remember vividly the indigestion it gave me, I think my body was rebelling and in hindsight it was desperate for a break.  I had been a daily heavy drinker for 35 years.

I had a medical detox and I wouldn’t suggest stopping this level of drinking without one so I had support from day 1.  That first day was actually a relief.  I think that by the time you decide to give it a go to stay sober for a month there’s a weight that lifts and even though it’s the unknown it feels like the right thing to do.

I want to talk about changing habits because for me this has been a revelation.  The first couple of nights I journaled and engaged in some group activities, and I remember laughing out loud for the first time without alcohol in as long as I can remember.  I caught myself and was amazed that for once I was interacting with other people and having fun without alcohol.  Then I remember the way my face began to lose its puffiness and my eyes seemed brighter. Honestly, I was still only about 3 or 4 days sober but I felt lighter.  I started to enjoy the taste of food more and quickly developed other habits — instead of reaching for the wine at 7pm, I would run a hot bath and meditate.  I had never meditated before and I set up a small table in my bedroom with some candles where I said my gratitudes, feeling grateful that I was sober for the first time in forever.  

As I continued with these new habits I began to think less and less about alcohol.  I decided that I would take up a new interest and I bought a cello, spending my sober Saturday nights learning a new song.

I joined an online Philosophy class and also a playwriting class, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of these things if I had been habitually drinking and I thought I would take the opportunity to do something different.

I can honestly say that each day I was sober became easier and the less I thought about it.

I remember in the beginning writing out a chart so I could count the days down until the end of the month and see when I could drink again but as I began to tick off the days I almost didn’t want to get to the end.

I ended up doing 6 months sober in total and I genuinely believe that if I can do that then anyone can. It becomes addictive; waking up without guilt or shame is a gift.

If I could give any advice for those first few days (they are the hardest) then I would say plan your day, hour by hour.  Add in things you couldn’t do before.  Maybe go for a drive, take yourself to the theatre, the cinema, or even just go for a cup of tea with your bestie because you wouldn’t have been able to do any of those things if you were drinking and just back yourself.  It will be one of the best things that you ever do, I promise.

By Andrea, MM Member

Day 6: Brain Lesson #1: Creating New Beliefs Takes Practice

Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good. ~ Malcolm Gladwell

During Dryuary, as you take a 31-day break from drinking, you’ll discover (or rediscover) Moderation Management’s fundamental strategies. Taking an extended break from drinking is beneficial for many physical reasons which you will automatically experience by not drinking. 

To encourage long-term, sustainable change, you can also use this break to change your thinking around alcohol–which only happens if you work at it. 

Look for a new Brain Lesson every Thursday to help. 

Brain Lesson  #1: Creating New Beliefs Takes Practice

Your beautiful, brilliant human brain. It’s absolutely amazing. Right about now your brain may be sending you A LOT of mixed messages because you’ve decided to take an extended break from drinking. In one moment you might be feeling excited and motivated–you’ve stocked your fridge with lots of great non-alcoholic alternatives and you’re feeling strong. Just as quickly, your brain reminds you that you haven’t taken a whole month off drinking for years, maybe even decades and you are left feeling fearful and insecure.  

Most of us are familiar with the feelings described above and how we experience them in our bodies. 

Motivated and excited: Your body might feel heightened, ready for action, your heart beat is slightly accelerated, maybe you have a pleasant flutter in your stomach. 

Insecure and fearful: Your heartbeat is uncomfortably fast, your hands are shaky and you may feel the need to take deep calming breaths. 

What we are less aware of, are the thoughts that are causing those feelings and how we can influence how we feel, by changing them. 

Why does this even matter? You might be able to willpower yourself through a month-long break from alcohol, but if you’re interested in changing your relationship with alcohol for the rest of your life, willpower won’t work. Changing your drinking habits is possible, if you change how you think about alcohol. Creating new beliefs takes practice and the first step is  becoming aware of the thoughts that are coming up as you start this month-long break from drinking. 

Every day during Dryuary is a chance to notice the thoughts you have and to make the connection to how you’re feeling. When you have a thought like “I really need a drink to help me relax” do you simply believe that thought is true? Do you question it? Challenge that thought with something else that is true?  “I don’t need a drink to relax, I just want one because that’s what I’ve trained myself to do” 

Imagine yourself thinking both of those thoughts and what feeling do you imagine feeling?  

With the first “I need a drink,”  I anticipate feeling an increased desire to drink, it feels urgent.   

With the challenging thought “I just want one because I’ve trained myself” I anticipate feeling more logical, more in control, more calm.  

Believing new things about your drinking habits is possible and it requires practice. To speed up the process, write your thoughts and feelings down. Be specific when you describe your feelings and keep asking your brain questions about the thoughts you’re having. Every thought you have is optional. If you want to feel differently, ask yourself if there is another thought you could focus on instead. Write that thought down and focus your attention on it. 

In the comments below, share a thought you might use to challenge your “old” thinking. 

Stay tuned for a new Brain Lesson next Thursday! 

Molly Watts is the host of the Alcohol Minimalist Podcast, author of Breaking the Bottle Legacy, a wife, a mom and an MM member. Find out more at https://www.mollywatts.com/

Day 7: A Turning Point

man wearing gray T-shirt standing on forest


“It is strange, but true, that the most important turning-points of life often come at the most unexpected times and in the most unexpected ways.”
— Napoleon Hill

In ’04, I was in a near fatal car accident that put me in a coma. Upon emerging from the coma, I didn’t know who I was, or any of my family or friends. However, whenever one of the attendants asked if they could get me anything, I told them a “Jameson Manhattan on the Rocks”! The only thing of my life that I remembered was what I drank!! 

I laughed about this for years when I’d tell people, and it wasn’t until my partner and I were breaking up that I thought about it. My drinking was one of the reasons we were splitting, but certainly not the only or even the most important. 

I decided at that point that I needed to do something about my drinking, and found MM. The first thing I did was to buy the Responsible Drinking book and read it, and to do a 30 day abstinence. During that 30 days I summoned up the courage to attend an MM live meeting in the MD area. I’ll be honest, going to the meeting I was expecting it to be filled with a bunch of fat old drunks like myself. I was totally flabbergasted to see that there were young men in their 30’s and 40’s there, and there were women! For some reason I guess I thought of “alcoholics” as a man’s thing. I didn’t think that women had an issue with drinking as well. I was overwhelmed to see young men and young women beginning to solve a problem before it became too much of a problem and ruin their lives. I was inspired to convey my experiences and to help them as much as I could, while building the resolve to “walk the walk” to sobriety and not just “talk the talk”. 

I had always thought of an “alcoholic” as the Aqualung character in the Jethro Tull song. I wasn’t “sitting on a park bench, snots running down my nose, greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes”. That wasn’t me, I wasn’t an “alcoholic” so I didn’t have a problem! Case closed! I realized I DID have a problem, and needed to change for a better quality of life! 

I think the 30 day abstinence is a real sign, and if you can do it, even if it takes a few times, it shows you don’t have a physical need for alcohol, and that you can abstain if you want. I think Dryuary is so important. One time I was listening to Sirius radio and one of the DJ’s mentioned she’d heard of something where you stop drinking in January, and again when I was at my local brewpub I mentioned that I was going to do it to my bartender friends, and one of them mentioned that he did it every year! It’s becoming a real popular thing to do among people, and we should spread the word as best we can. I texted the Sirius DJ and she read my response describing Dryuary on her show! 

by Ray Wohltman, MM Member

Day 8: The Hardest Part of Change

assorted-color lear hanging decor


“The hardest part about change is not making the same choices you made the day before.”

– Joe Dispenza


Like many, I started drinking at a young age. My friend group was partial to wacky, wild and only somewhat legal adventures, which would inevitably include substances or adrenaline in some capacity. I was excited to be included and that paired well with the physical hormonal cocktail that is the middle school and high schooler’s brain. The people I looked up to and spent all my time with were excited to share their favorite hobby of drinking with me.

Addiction, or any compulsive behavior you want to stop but somehow, for some reason, can’t, is a very physical thing. My brain created those positive associations between chemical highs and lows, a rush of dopamine and adrenaline, with feelings of warmth and acceptance. And I pursued feeling good with a vengeance. I continued the pattern in college, finding “my niche” in the problematic alcohol behaviors natural to a college campus. My life was a revolving door around the pregame – party – recover – study – pregame cycle, and I, again, felt good. I had no more of “a problem” compared to anyone else, and my grades were fine. I put “drinking less” on my list of half-hearted resolutions next to “exercise more” or “drink more water” that I had no real intention of committing to


I moved cities after college and noticed that I could not bring my habits with me. I started graduate school and found the demands on my time not conducive to my preferred existence of being wasted as often as possible. My father passed away after I graduated college, and I did not have any tools for handling it. I had several conflicting emotions and had the emotional toolkit of a teenager. I began to drink more problematically, the habits I had already formed contributing to a vicious cycle that, by design, left no room for me to process emotion sober.


My initial resolve to change happened not after one big “rock bottom” moment (so often popularized in media) but slowly, over time. I had a lot of little “rock potholes”, that collectively contributed to making my life significantly harder than it had to be. I was making everyday activities drinking games. I brought a flask with me everywhere, just in case the opportunity presented itself. It was a running joke that if anyone wanted to contact me after 5, call the bar, which clashed with the professional identity I was trying to cultivate.


The hardest part of any change is deciding that you need one. I had always known I drank more than others, but tracking my use helped me realize just how much alcohol was in my everyday life. Alcohol wasn’t everything to me, but it was enough. I realized it was how I related to myself, others, spent my time and regulated my emotions. I knew I had to deeply consider a lifestyle change. And that was far from a one-time decision, as growth is not linear and I continuously decide how I want to live my life and recommit as often as I can.

Tracking helped me notice the pattern, but sobriety, or really any version of it that meant I couldn’t drink whenever I wanted, still terrified me. It had been my go-to coping method and biggest identifier for so many years. It was everything about me, which both meant I needed to reevaluate, and that it felt impossible. I started thinking about all the ways sobriety scared me, and found a therapist to help. I wanted support to go through this.

That led to searching out a supportive community, which led to building a toolkit of healthier habits. I realized what works and what doesn’t. Going to bed early and waking up early has quite literally changed my life. Sticking to a routine that involves both social and independent time, relying on a sober support network, checking in with my therapist all serve a role in my life and keep my wheels turning. The foundation I laid for myself is rooted in acceptance and finding peace in the average. I am who I am, and even if that means some days, I feel like a beat-up car that’s hit every pothole on the road, I still have value and am worthy of love. I still accept me, and that has been everything.

By Rachel Berg

Day 9: Building Resolve

woman sitting on rock formation under snow

Resolve never to quit, never to give up, no matter what the situation.

Jack Nicklaus

Whenever you want to make a change that deep down you know is good for your health but you feel there is internal resistance, rest assured you are not alone.

Abstaining for January may feel like a big gig, but when you get your mind in the right place, being sober for a month is easy and fun!

The resistance is what I call the Inner Critic.  This inner voice suggests, ‘I bet you can’t go sober for a month’ or ‘You will fail, what is the point in trying!’

The Inner Critic is the negative self-talk that underpins the resistance to being sober for January.

If you recognise this in yourself, the good news is it’s a state of mind, not a reality!

Changing your inner dialogue does take practice, but once you get the hang of it, you can breeze through January sober and feel proud of what you have achieved.

There is an opposite part of the Inner Critic that has incredible resolve, and it can shift your negative mindset to a much healthier and optimistic one.   I call this part the Intuitive Healthy Part, and it is the gateway to your success.

Developing this part to be more present is not only the key to being sober with ease but will give you a massive self-esteem boost too.

This Intuitive part has only your best interests at heart, and the best way to connect to this part is to stimulate its presence in your daily life.

I suggest writing down all the bonuses of being sober for January, from weight loss to more energy, better sleep and a healthier liver! Then, remind yourself of these moments when you think about drinking.

Keep post-it notes with statements on your computer such as ‘I am calm and confident sober’ or ‘I feel safe being sober’.

Set your phone alarm three times a day and call it ‘Fun Sober January.’

Don’t let your Inner Critic win the battle.  If it says something like ‘You’ve had a bad day, I bet you’re going to drink tonight, ‘ challenge it with ‘I am working through my stress and know this moment will pass.’

Each time you hear your Inner Critic talk doom and gloom about being sober, combat its energy with a positive statement and say it three times.

A great quick resource is to lie in bed for 5 minutes and imagine going through your day coping well with everything.  Any obstacles, see yourself breathing deeply, releasing the negative energy before it takes hold and then breathing into a space of calm and logic.  Then see the situation as being resolved without needing to drink.  

Then go forward again to the next day, where you see yourself waking up sober and reviewing the day before with pride that you coped so well without a drink in your hand.

The more you imagine these sorts of outcomes, the more your mind and body learn how you cope with life without alcohol. For example, the more you feel the feelings of calm in difficult moments, the more your mind and body will know that this is the dominant response rather than reaching for a drink.

Being sober for January when you discover how to manage your Inner Critic rather than it manages you will make a massive difference to your success.

Georgia Foster is the creator of the 7 Days to Drink Less at www.georgiafoster.com

Day 10: What is Your Dryuary WHY?

people sitting on chairs in front of table

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’M POSSIBLE!’
Audrey Hepburn

Every year when it comes around to the beginning of Dryuary, I find myself remaining non-committal until the last possible moment. “Should I join? What if it’s too hard? Heck, it’s my birthday month and I wouldn’t want to deprive myself on that one special day of the year!” The debate swirls in my head in contrast with all the reasons why I know I SHOULD take a month off from drinking, and knowing there is this great and supportive community to help me through it. I know some days will be hard (day 3 is the worst for me!) but I also know that my body, mind and soul will all benefit from this 30-day vacation. I want to step into each day and embrace whatever physical or emotional sensations I experience, and accept them for what they are.

In past years, I have found that focusing on WHY I have chosen to participate in Dryuary helps keep my motivation going. Last year, I asked members of the Moderation Management Private Facebook what their motivation was for taking a month off from drinking. Here’s what they had to say:

“Dryuary: Reset, Rejuvenate, Reflect.” (this has become the slogan for Dryuary! )

“I think January works well for a lot of people, including me, because it feels like a fresh start! Another perk to staying dry is that you are much more likely to keep any other resolutions you might make and your motivation is already skyrocketing. It also gives a purpose/something to focus on during what can sometimes be a dreary, slow month after the holidays are over.”

“Nightly drinking (and periodic binges) were becoming a habit. A dry month may help me break that cycle and learn new habits.”

“While I can moderate more than I used to, I’m still an almost daily drinker, so I need the reset.”

“Personally, I am trying to lose weight and I’m hoping that abstaining from alcohol will also help me to not overeat.”

“I needed to break the habit. I knew that for me, the attachment was less biological and more psychological. The first few days were rough but now that it’s not a habit, I feel like I can do without… I’ll probably do a dryuary anytime I feel like the habit is starting to take over again.”

“I did three months one summer, I had a dissertation to write and I was training for my first 10k, both went well, so maybe the abstinence helped!”

 “ One-month abs[tinence] periods help me to see the benefits of drinking less and not drinking at all. It sort of keeps my mind clear and re-centers me on the realities of my old drinking habits and the benefits of the new habits I am making.”

“ My motivations: 1) Increase confidence in knowing that I can live happily without alcohol; 2) Decrease times when I do or say things that I regret because of alcohol use; 3) Lose weight; 4) Sleep better; 5) Wake up feeling awesome; 6) Decrease cognitive dissonance.”

“I like the opportunity to reset my ‘relationship’ with alcohol. It’s almost a personal test for me to see how I experience different things without the crutch of alcohol.” 

“For me: Break the cycle and get back to ‘me’ (who is she?), Reset (too high of a tolerance), save my marriage, show myself that I can handle stress, socialize without alcohol, lose weight, feel better, choose life over numbness, learn to self-love… I do miss wine but want to have a healthy relationship with it.”

So many powerful reasons to take a break from alcohol and get back to what is important in our lives! Our daily posts will explore all of these benefits and more, keeping you focused on your goals for this month.

What is YOUR motivation for doing Dryuary 2022? Join the conversation on our Facebook group or in the Dryuary Forum!

Contributed by Andrea Pain — Program Manager for Moderation Management

Day 11: What I Learned (from my “failed” attempts at sober challenges)

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug

“Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.”
~Morihei Ueshiba.

Before discovering the missing piece that was the key to resolving my problematic relationship with alcohol, I struggled with my drinking for well over a decade. During that time, I attempted many times to take breaks from alcohol– with limited success. Though often fraught with frustration and feelings of defeat, in retrospect I realized that each attempt taught me something valuable about my complicated relationship with alcohol.

Here are a few things I learned along the way-

I relied on alcohol…
to unwind, to socialize, to alleviate boredom, blah, blah blah… The thing is, I really believed I needed alcohol to relax and have fun. What I’ve realized since resolving my unhealthy drinking was that alcohol actually altered my set point for pleasure, so that normal activities that once felt good on their own now needed to be paired with alcohol for me to experience them as pleasurable. Alcohol had slowly hijacked my brain into believing it was essential for me to enjoy life.

I had become used to feeling shi**y
This brings to mind the “boiling frog syndrome”- If a frog is suddenly put into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out and save itself from impending death. But if the frog is put in lukewarm water, with the temperature rising slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will slowly be cooked to death. There could hardly be a more descriptive analogy. By acclimating to the detrimental effects of alcohol over time, I became “comfortable” with feeling awful physically, mentally, and emotionally, to the point that waking up feeling like crap every morning just felt normal to me.

All or nothing thinking doesn’t work
The minute someone (even myself!) tells me I can’t do something, I want to do it that much more. Now I admit I’m a rebel at heart, but this seems to be a common aspect of human nature. Absolute abstinence just didn’t seem to be a sustainable solution for me, and in fact, it led to my learning the next lesson…

The Alcohol Deprivation effect is real
Research has shown that quitting drinking “cold turkey” can actually increase cravings for alcohol and cause binge drinking, due to something called the Alcohol Deprivation Effect. These studies have proven that when someone with an alcohol use disorder suddenly stops drinking, it can send them into deprivation mode which can then lead to cravings and binges. This was absolutely true in my experience!

Drinking was more than just a bad habit
This was a hard one for me to accept, but even when I was abstaining, I found myself preoccupied with thoughts about alcohol and drinking. I finally had to admit that I needed to do more than just change my beliefs and behaviors around alcohol. Although I didn’t drink every day, and certainly didn’t consider myself an “alcoholic”, I came to realize that on some level I was dependent on alcohol.

Ultimately, my unsuccessful attempts at living without alcohol ultimately made me realize I needed something more. I needed to find a way to lose my desire to drink!

For me, the missing piece was finding a scientific way to repair the physiology of alcohol addiction in my nervous system by reducing the endorphins I experienced when I drank. By pharmacologically re-wiring my brain so that I no longer craved alcohol, I was finally able to put into practice all the strategies and tools I had learned along the way. Once I retrained my brain not to expect euphoria from drinking, it became so much easier to stay within the drinking guidelines I set for myself. I felt like my “off-switch” for alcohol was restored, and I was able to enjoy a drink or two without worrying about losing control or drinking to blackout.

Absolute abstinence was never my goal, but I found that once alcohol lost its appeal, I genuinely didn’t want to drink most of the time.

Today, I live 99% alcohol-free. I haven’t had a blackout or hangover in nearly five years. And although I still occasionally enjoy the social ritual of having a drink with friends from time to time, I’m no longer preoccupied with drinking, nor do I fear alcohol. I can take it or leave it.

That is true freedom to me!

Karen Dion is a licensed addiction counselor and health coach who found lasting freedom from problematic drinking after many years of struggle, by using a holistic approach that included medication therapy.

Karen also co-founded Thrive Alcohol Recovery, to provide an integrative treatment program for people who want to improve their relationship with alcohol, whether their ultimate goal is controlled drinking, moderate drinking, or abstinence.

You can learn more at https://www.thrivealcoholrecovery.com/ and https://www.jointhrivecommunity.com/.

Day 12: Alcohol and Sleep

man in black jacket and blue denim jeans lying on brown leather couch

“Your future depends on your dreams, so go to sleep.” – Mesut Barazany

One of the biggest benefits you will notice by taking a month-off drinking alcohol, is improved sleep, here’s why:

Alcohol is a sedative, a depressant, and when I use the word depressant I am using it in its chemical sense, as something that inhibits or depresses nerve activity.

The issue is that the human brain creates and releases its own array of chemicals, drugs and hormones. Some of these you may have heard of, things like adrenaline, endorphins, and cortisol. The brain works by way of ‘homeostasis’, which is essentially an intricate balance of all these chemicals, drugs and hormones.

When we drink our brain recognises that this balance has been upset and it takes steps to counter it. It does this in numerous ways (like releasing more of its naturally occurring stimulants to counter the sedating effect of the alcohol) but what it amounts to is that it becomes extra sensitive so it can operate under the sedating effect of the alcohol. When the alcohol wears off, this extra sensitivity remains. It can feel like it does when you drink too much caffeine. You can feel anxious, jittery and out of sorts. This feeling is caused by a chemical imbalance that it itself caused by the previous dose of alcohol wearing off.

So how does this affect sleep? To understand this we need to understand a bit about sleep. Sleep is not about just falling unconscious and waking up a few hours later good to go. When we sleep, we go through different sleep cycles, and it is essential we go through the right amount of the right cycles if we want to wake up refreshed and energetic.

There is a lot that we humans do not understand about sleep, but what we do know is that one of the main differentiating factors between these different sleep cycles is how deeply unconscious we are. In ‘Deep Sleep’, as you would expect we are very deeply unconscious. But at the other end of the scale is REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. In this stage our brain lights up almost as if we were fully conscious. REM sleep is where we dream and is a crucial sleep cycle. People who are starved of REM sleep quickly becomes depressed, anxious and unable to function.

When we drink alcohol, for the first part of the night, we are sedated from the alcohol so the brain struggles to reach REM sleep. In natural sleep, the sleeper will average 6 or 7 rounds of REM sleep. When drinking, the average is two. After the alcohol wears off (usually 5 hours after the last drink) the phase of over-stimulation kicks in, where any kind of sleep incredibly difficult. This is the reason for those infamous 4am wake ups.

Imagine you need 8 hours sleep to be at your best, and you sleep from 11pm to 7 am every night. Drinking alcohol is like setting your alarm for 4am and drinking a couple of jugs of strong black coffee, to lay there for the rest of the night exhausted but unable to sleep, jittery and anxious.

Learning more about the relationship between sleep and alcohol can help you stay motivated to stick to your alcohol-free goal in Dryuary.  It’s one of the biggest benefits for me of my alcohol-free life.

William Porter is the author of Alcohol Explained and Alcohol Explained 2.  Learn more at: www.alcoholexplained.com

Day 13: Brain Lesson #2-Recognizing What Feelings Feel Like

During Dryuary, as you take a 31-day break from drinking, you’ll discover (or rediscover) Moderation Management’s fundamental strategies. Taking an extended break from drinking is beneficial for many physical reasons which you will automatically experience by not drinking. To encourage long-term, sustainable change, you can also use this break to change your thinking around alcohol–which only happens if you work at it. 
Look for a new Brain Lesson every Thursday to help.

I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

You might be reading the title of this brain lesson and wondering what in the world this has got to do with changing your drinking habits or taking a month-long break from alcohol. This week, we are focusing on physical benefits and I want to direct your attention to how our bodies experience emotion–the actual physical expression of your emotions.  One of the biggest benefits of not drinking is being able to dial into the vibrations in your body that are your feelings.

For many people, myself included, I developed a habit of turning to alcohol to help me buffer away negative emotion. I truly believed I couldn’t handle the feelings of stress, anxiety or depression that seemed to be constants in my life. I just wanted to escape them and alcohol was my go-to answer. Of course there were a lot of problems with this strategy, not the least of which was the excessive amount of alcohol I was consuming on a daily basis. And the thing is, alcohol didn’t solve the problem. Alcohol provided a temporary buffer and when it was gone, the negative emotions were back and typically with an additional layer of guilt and regret. To change my drinking habits, I needed to learn that I was capable of handling all of my emotions and that’s what this lesson is all about.

In last week’s brain lesson, I talked about how most of us can recognize the physical feelings of our emotions. When you think about a time you were really afraid—you likely remember your heart pounding.  Or visualize getting angry, and you might imagine your fists clenching, your jaw tightening, and your face getting flushed. The important part about this recognition is understanding that these physical experiences ARE your feelings. Your feelings aren’t some big uncontrollable, horrible things that need to be avoided. You can tolerate an increased heart rate for a bit. You can handle any emotion you feel because it’s nothing more than a vibration in your body. Side note: the physical response of our emotions only lasts ninety seconds, after that if we’re still stuck in an emotional state it’s because we’re feeding the emotion with our thoughts.

Use this break from drinking to pay attention to the feelings you have. Describe what happens in your body when you are feeling stressed, anxious, angry. Get clinical. Be analytical and view your feelings without any drama.  Remind yourself that there is no emotion you’re not willing to experience.

In the comments below, share an emotion you’ve been resistant to experiencing with the phrase “I’m willing to feel___________ because I can handle any emotion”.

Stay tuned for a new Brain Lesson next Thursday!

Molly Watts is the host of the Alcohol Minimalist Podcast, author of Breaking the Bottle Legacy, a wife, a mom and an MM member. Find out more at https://www.mollywatts.com/

Day 14: What are you saying “Yes” to?

yes text on brown sand

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Dan Millman

During your Dryuary month, there will likely be a lot of saying “No,” in situations where you are used to saying “Yes.” In fact, saying “No,” when you sort of (or really) want to say “Yes,” may feel like one of the most challenging aspects of an alcohol-free month. How much will power is this going to take? Will you have energy for anything else?

But I’d like to offer an alternative to thinking of this next few weeks simply as a month of saying “No.” And that is to ask yourself: What am I saying Yes to?

When you choose to say No to alcohol (whether for an evening, a month, or forever), you are saying Yes to:

  • A better night’s sleep
  • Calories to spend on other treats (or not!)
  • Better digestion and nutrient absorption
  • Improved hydration
  • A clear head tomorrow
  • Time to spend on other projects
  • Enhanced cognitive power
  • Funds to spend on other treats (or save!)

You’re saying Yes to some things that, in the past, you’ve said No to (by saying Yes to alcohol instead).

The point isn’t just to put a Polly-ana spin on any the discomfort that may crop up. Behavior change is hard…especially when you’re changing a behavior that your brain perceives as rewarding.

That perceived reward sometimes causes us to ignore the trade-offs. Focusing on all that you’re saying Yes to this month is a great way to be a little more conscious of those trade-offs—both now and in the future.

So, if today you find yourself in a situation where you need to say “No,” to alcohol, be sure to take a moment to appreciate what you are saying Yes to instead.

Monica Reinagel is a licensed nutritionist, author, and behavior change coach. Look for her podcasts, the Nutrition Diva and the Change Academy (with co-host Brock Armstrong) wherever you listen. More information about her coaching programs can be found at NutritionOverEasy.com.

Day 15: The Gift of Time

white and black analog alarm clock at 10 00

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
– Winston Churchill

To me, the first weeks after quitting alcohol felt very similar to a breakup. I found that I applied romantic songs about longing, missing someone, and fond recollections to missing alcohol. To this day, I am convinced Wish You Were Here by Avril Lavigne is about drinking. Alcohol had, piece by piece, like a toxic ex, consumed everything. It was present in almost every element of my life. I was continuously recovering from a hangover, it popped up in all my friend’s shared memories of me and therefore in our conversations and was my primary way of both socializing and enjoying my time alone. Like an ex you can’t get out of your head, it was everywhere. Both in society, as alcohol is incredibly normalized, and in my heart, head and memories.

Everything felt, in one way or another, like an invitation. Frustration, happiness, excitement, the moment the clock strikes 5:00 and every time I pass my favorite neighborhood bar, an implicit invitation to ‘text my ex’ or pour a shot. Everything reminded me of a fond drunken memory. I found sobriety is so unbelievably frustrating. One of my biggest triggers was boredom, and I still find it feels like physical pain. Doing the dishes are equivalent to the momentous trials of Sisyphus, as I was sure hand-washing forks sober was equal to the hauling of a boulder up a cliff. I was so used to ‘enhancing’ every interaction with alcohol. Finish a long day at work? Have a beer. Finish an average day at work? Have a beer. Paperwork? Wine makes that go faster. Even positive experiences, like parties, or social gatherings, I had intrinsically tied with drinking. Promotion? Have some champagne. Birthday party? Tequila shots, all around. I wanted to cry my first time sitting through a board game night without ciders, convinced that if someone tried to explain the rules of Catan to me one more time I’d jump off the wagon and never look back. My tolerance for boredom and mundanity was non-existent, as I had not let myself be truly bored for years. I did not know how to be without alcohol.

Being social and sober also had unique challenges. Even when surrounding myself with positive, encouraging people, I still struggled to stick to my goals. The urge to join the party, to do what I’ve done for 11 years, is really overpowering. I find for me it is necessary to set a plan before going, remind myself what my goals and motivations are, and ways I can handle temptation before the situation happens. One tool that works for me is making sure to greet every single person before getting a drink. How often have I beelined for the bar at any gathering, social nerves demanding I have something to do with my hands and a communal activity to talk about? Making sure I talk to every single person, maybe even doing a second lap, before getting a mocktail (NA beers are popular, I prefer a regular coke with lime) helps reduce the connection in my brain between social = drink. I also was avoiding telling people for a very long time, content to make excuses for why I wasn’t drinking and only confiding in those I deemed needed to be ‘in the know’. I found that when I’m upfront, it takes the pressure off the evening a little. I now have accountability, which reinforces my likelihood of success, as well as reduces my worry that it might be an awkward conversation. I feel more honest, which translates into being more open and authentic with those around me.

Some tools did, eventually, help me. Distracting was huge, immediately shifting my attention to something else if I felt the urge to drink, even if it was for a short period of time. In the early stages, whenever I felt ready to call it quits, I would tell myself I could have a drink after twenty minutes of yoga. Afterwards, the urge would lessen until it was more manageable to resist. I made a list called “better than drinking” with things I liked, like baking, watching tv, calling a friend. Some people group their activities by how much energy they take, or what moods they address.

Ultimately, the biggest thing that helped triggers, cravings, urges, social stigma and boredom was time. Distraction helped in the moment, as well as relying on a social support network and doing concrete work on my mental health behaviors with a therapist. That will all get you from one moment to the next, but the biggest part of ultimately making it through was time. Time for my brain to rework, form new connections, and time to get over my ‘ex’ of rum and coke.

Submitted by Rachel Berg

Day 16: Calming The Body

person doing meditation outdoors

You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you

Dan Millman

Congrats on making it this far! (And if you haven’t been 100% dry, remember there are no failures, just Information for Exploration….)

Some of you probably know that the body holds a lot of trauma and stress from the past (and present!). So when you’re experiencing stress and anxiety, it can be really helpful to pay attention to sensation in your body.

My training in trauma is in Somatic Experiencing, which means how our bodies and nervous systems respond to stressful events. Stress and trauma are not in the event; they’re in how the nervous system responds to the event. That’s because the event happens outside of us, and our reaction happens inside of us. Make sense?

Even if it doesn’t, here’s a practice that can help:

(I’ve included an audio version of it so you can really let go and relax while doing this practice.)

Guided Meditation Practice, Relaxing the Body

  1. Relax back into a couch or chair.
  • Notice how your body’s making contact with the surface you’re on; put some attention on the back part of your body and legs.
  • Become aware of your feet.
  • Notice that you’re breathing. Place a hand on the heart and breathe gently and slowly for 20 – 60 seconds.
  • Now place your hands behind your neck and let your head feel supported by your hands.

6. Take 3 slow breaths in and out (breathe in through the nose imagining a pleasant aroma, breathe out blowing gently through the mouth—Let the out-breath be a bit longer than the in-breath). Do this at least 3 times.

7.Move one hand to the forehead and repeat Step 6. (One hand is behind the neck; the other on the forehead.)

8. Move one hand to the heart and repeat Step 6. (One hand is on the forehead; the other is on the heart.)

9. Move the forehead hand to the belly and repeat Step 6. (One hand is on the heart; the other on the belly.)

10. Continue to breathe gently, and on the out-breaths repeat the phrase “In this moment, I’m ok.”

Beej Christie Karpen of Insight Out Coaching is a Meditation Teacher, Clinical Hypnotist, Somatic & IFS therapist specializing in reducing habit drinking.

Looking toward a Moderate February? Learn mindfulness tools with Beej’s “Conscious Drinking 101: a 4-Session Workshop.” https://www.insightoutnyc.com/upcoming-workshops

Day 17: Airport Security

low angle photography of man wearing black shirt under white and gray airplane

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”
Henry Ford

I am a frequent flier and hardy traveler. An airplane ride used to mean I looked forward to a boozy pre-game at the airport bar, refuelling in-flight, and an alcohol-soaked vacation thereafter. After the pandemic restrictions waned a bit, I was able to get myself on a plane (with much anxiety) and out to a different state. As I waited in line, sober and impatient to be screened, I mused that getting through airport security was much like getting through a situation where there was alcohol involved. After 9/11 the world changed, and we now know that whenever we get on a plane, we must go through certain security steps to fly for the safety of the order. Whether I like it or not, as a result, I no longer wear complicated shoes, belts, or bring items with me that I know are going to be potentially problematic and hang me up in line. I know through experience that there are hoops to jump through, and I purposefully make it easier for myself to get through security, for the safety of the order. The same now goes for deciding in abstinence not to drink in social situations and for cravings management. When I go to a party or any other type of gathering, I plan ahead to make it easier. 

Parties and social gatherings have been my nemesis in the past, so I know I must use all the tools available to make it through the line efficiently. That means first envisioning the successful takeoff in my mind, then choosing ahead the inflight option of club soda, and keeping my seatbelt securely fastened in the event of turbulence. Flight attendants give us instructions in case of emergency, and I have my own list on my iPhone in case of emergency that I can refer to. Having a plan and looking ahead to Tomorrow Me can be immensely helpful in planning any journey. It’s weird, but I practiced saying things like “club soda, please”, “I’m not drinking tonight,” or “no thanks, I’m driving.” You know what? They rolled off my tongue, and nobody batted an eye! Successfully abstaining at the end of a party always feels like the relief of a smooth landing.

The same holds true for parties, social gatherings, or anywhere you feel yourself tempted. Looking ahead to the booze-free journey and practicing in your head or to your mirror about how you will respond to situations can be helpful. Removing barriers to your sobriety in advance can help you breeze through your own personal security line and become the pilot of your life. For me, this means bringing NA beer, kombucha, and fizzy water. It means setting a time limit for how long I will be there, purposefully engaging other non-drinkers, being a DD or even escaping to the bathroom if a craving washes over me. It means constructing firm barriers like “no thank you,” “not tonight, I’m good,” and “I have a fizzy drink, thanks!“ Will there be turbulence? Almost certainly. But by clicking my seatbelt in this way with resolve, I can ensure that I will be safer during the bumpy ride. In case of emergency, my iPhone tells me to repeat a favored mantra or three, dial a sober friend, inhale some lavender essential oil, make relaxing tea, eat some chocolate, and leave the disaster scene immediately. 

This vacation was the first I’d ever taken without being completely sauced, and I was able to enjoy the people, the sunrise, ocean and beach, music, food, and be fully present for the entire flight, even when it was a little scary. I felt like I was soaring way above the clouds on my own, and it was exhilarating! Triggers are hard, and saying no is harder, but by practicing some security measures in advance, we can ensure a safe and expedient journey for the good of the order. 

Dryuary is a great time to take a booze-free trip, so buckle up and enjoy your flight!

Yours truly in smooth airspace or turbulent times,

Christy Dee MM Forum Member

Day 18: Being Social When Not Drinking / Saying No

clear drinking glass with orange liquid and ice

“I’d thought that if I could only sort out my life, I could then sort out my drinking. It was a revelation to see that it would be simpler the other way around.”

Pete Townshend

Being Social When Not Drinking

I was raised in a small city just across the river from Manhattan, and there wasn’t a whole lot to do in your free time but hang out at a bar. I wear the title “barfly” proudly, and probably always will, whether that involves drinking or not. I’d always meet friends or make new friends over conversations at the bar. We’d watch sports, play pool, basically kill a lot of free time.

Fortunately for me, lately I can go to my local brewpub just for the social aspects. I don’t feel compelled to drink alcohol and being around others that are drinking alcohol doesn’t bother me. That’s their choice, and not drinking on many occasions is mine. I routinely drink seltzer water or kombucha.

Now, my ex used to get mad at me and call me an open book, not that I give my opinions to others unsolicited, but if anybody asks me anything, I’m usually a straight shooter. If anyone asks me why I’m not drinking, not that it’s any of their business, I generally reply that I’m trying to cut down on the drinking that I have been doing. I don’t generally have to say anything else. If anyone pushed the issue, I’d simply tell them it was none of their business. I don’t consider anyone that would push the issue a friend, my true friends would never do that.

I engage in many conversations about music, sports, cooking, or just about anything that comes up. Most of us feel, for some strange reason, that there is something wrong with us if we don’t drink at a bar, and that others would somehow become aware of our “shortcomings” if we don’t drink. On the contrary, most people don’t care. We need to understand this, and if going to a bar or pub and being social is important, you should definitely continue to do so, minus the booze! Break that association and enjoy the social aspects that pubs are great for.

Saying No

I was in an MM meeting one night, and one of the attendees said they start each day they plan on abstaining with saying “NO, I’m not going to have a drink today”, and reinforcing that throughout the day as a form of a mantra. And I tried it, and it really works! 

I also don’t like the negativity that is associated with thinking, “I can’t have a drink today and I want one”, or “I’m doing this, I need a drink to go with it but I can’t”.  Instead, I say to myself “I can have a drink any damn time I want one, but I DON’T WANT ONE”. I make it a positive statement, and it really gives me the courage to say no. 

Sometimes when we’re in those social settings where your friends are drinking, but you say no if anyone asks you if you want one, you feel as though you are all of a sudden a social outcast! Now, some of people may feel that way, but I realized most of them really don’t care if we drink or if we don’t, it’s just a perception that we have. And when we are able to change that perception, we will find ourselves saying no a lot more often.

by Ray Wohltman, MM Member

Day 19: Pat’s Story

person wearing gold wedding band

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”

–Victor Hugo

I am married, and have been for nearly 35 years, to an extraordinarily loving, kind, funny, joyful woman. My wife’s capacity of love draws extraordinary people into our lives and was the vitalizing energy in our raising three happy, loving, kind kids and helping raise four similarly wonderful grandkids.

My wife was also the daughter of a father who had those same attributes and whom she adored. The greatest trauma of her life came from the realization, in her late teens, that he was also an all-day, every-day drinker.

My own drinking, always an issue in our marriage, has come to represent, to my wife, something akin to infidelity. She has come to see me, increasingly, as preferring alcohol to her.

Worse, in my efforts to create a fresh start, I admitted to her that I had been, for our entire married life, lying about the number of drinks I was consuming. The realization of my lying was devastating, retraumatizing, to her. It caused her doubt and anxiety about every aspect of our lives.

For her and for our relationship I had to gain a mastery over my drinking, whether through moderation or abstinence.

That obligation, coupled with discomfort over some key tenets of 12 Step programs, prompted me to search for alternatives and to find MM. Through MM groups, my own reading and spending time with a magnificent therapist, skilled in MM and other Harm Reduction techniques, I have both reduced my regular drinking (close to but not always within the MM guidelines) and undertaken intermittent abstinences, including one through the 2021 holiday season.

For me the key tool in sustaining abstinence has been to move from a mindset of sacrifice, or self-deprivation—of focus on what I’m giving up by not drinking—to one of achievement, of accomplishing something worth doing by abstaining. To that end I have set the following abstinence goals:

  • Strengthen my marriage by reducing my wife’s stress and winning back her trust
  • Be a better role model to kids and grandkids
  • Be able to rely on myself re. alcohol—currently through abstinence and later, perhaps, through moderation.
  • Experience the world as joyfully without alcohol as I do with it
  • Be a better steward of the family’s resources.

Reciting these goals four times a day, along with attending several MM calls a week, has become the foundation of my abstinence.

I will need some time to win back my wife’s trust; she feels a deep sense of betrayal. But our relationship is much more tender (at least until this topic arises). I have great momentum on the other goals. And the fourth one, “experience the world as joyfully without alcohol as I do with it” has come to represent a lovely and welcome test. It allows me to go to a party, for instance, intent on abstaining and on having and providing as much fun as I would have under the influence of alcohol.

As you, the reader, are pursuing your Dryuary I will be deciding when and whether to return from abstinence to moderation. That decision, and the process for implementing it, will also be governed by those goals and by participating in the support and comradery provided by regular MM meetings.

Pat facilitates the Sunday MM Video Meeting and is a regular attendee at several other MM meetings. You can find all of our Moderation Management Meetings on our Meetings/Events Calendar at https://moderation.org/events/

Day 20: Brain Lesson #3-Alcohol Doesn’t Take the Edge Off

During Dryuary, as you take a 31-day break from drinking, you’ll discover (or rediscover) Moderation Management’s fundamental strategies. Taking an extended break from drinking is beneficial for many physical reasons which you will automatically experience by not drinking. To encourage long-term, sustainable change, you can also use this break to change your thinking around alcohol–which only happens if you work at it. 
Look for a new Brain Lesson every Thursday to help.

“Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths.” ~ C.H. Spurgeon

For thirty years, I 100% believed that I needed to drink to help ease my stress and take the edge off my anxiety. In my journey to change my drinking habits, learning and accepting the science about alcohol helped me change this belief.  Changing that belief was key to changing my relationship with alcohol. 

My mother was always anxious. Back in the 1970’s, when her drinking habits really became established, mental health was nowhere near as “mainstream” as it is today. She likely suffered from undiagnosed anxiety disorder, and she certainly wasn’t alone there. Anxiety disorders were only recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980. Before this recognition, people experiencing one of these disorders usually received a generic diagnosis of ‘stress’ or ‘nerves’. As there was no understanding of the disorders by health professionals, very few people received effective treatment.  

Like many people then and today, my mother turned to alcohol to relieve her stress and calm her nerves. Unfortunately that habit and psychological dependence eventually became a physical dependence which ultimately cost my mother her life. She died just after her 81st birthday as the result of an alcoholic binge. 

I share this part of my mother’s story only because I think it’s important to understand that long before the physical dependence she created a psychological dependence that was fueled by her belief that alcohol helped her take the edge off. It’s the same belief I held on to that fueled my feeling of desire to drink. 

Here’s the scientific truth about alcohol. Alcohol provides a very limited therapeutic benefit in terms of helping you relax and unwind and this is because of it’s “biphasic” effect.  

Generally speaking, people tend to feel better as their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises to about 0.05.  Specifically, it’s 0.055 to be exact. That is the first phase or part of the biphasic curve. If people drink more and their BAC rises above .055, the negative effects of drinking increase and hangovers become worse. Once you go over a BAC of 0.055, the negative effects of alcohol on your brain’s neurochemistry greatly outweigh any positive effects.

In the short term, alcohol depresses brain function by altering the balance of our brain’s neurotransmitters. To regain balance, the brain begins to upregulate our excitatory neurotransmitters. This effect is negligible during the first phase of the biphasic curve, but if we keep drinking and our BAC goes higher, our brains keep trying to balance out the depressant effect. As alcohol is dissipating from our system, the chemicals that were sent out to compensate for its effect leave us in a state of hypersensitivity which we feel as heightened stress and anxiety. 

Instead of providing relief for stress and anxiety, when we drink more than one or two drinks, we’re actually increasing the feelings of anxiety we’re trying to relieve. 

Use the science of alcohol to retrain your brain. Question the things that you believe about alcohol and whether or not they increase your desire to overdrink. When your thoughts turn to “I just need a drink to take the edge off”–ask yourself, is that really true? 

Molly Watts is the host of the Alcohol Minimalist Podcast, author of Breaking the Bottle Legacy, a wife, a mom and an MM member. Find out more at https://www.mollywatts.com/

Day 21: The Art of Alcohol-Free Socializing

three person holding mug and glass with beverage inside

See Social-life and Glee sit down,
All joyous and unthinking,
Till, quite transmogrified, they’re grown
Debauchery and Drinking

Robert Burns

Today I wanted to share with you my best tips for socializing without drinking. This was honestly something that totally terrified me as I was starting to drink less and opt for social occasions where I would intentionally choose not to drink.

It terrified me for a few reasons:

  1. I was the life of the party.

I was usually the last woman standing at most social functions. My whole identity was wrapped up in being that dependable drinking buddy for a lot of my friends. I was afraid of what people would think if I wasn’t that person anymore. Would they even like me? Would I need to make new friends? Would I like them?

2. How do I communicate that I’m not drinking?

Just the idea of having that conversation terrified me also. How was I going to say “no” when I would inevitably be offered a drink? How would I say “no” in a different way when they would ask me, “are you sure?” How would I respond when they would ask me why I wasn’t drinking.

3. What would people think?

What would people think when they saw me without a drink? Would they judge me? Would they think I was an “alcoholic” who couldn’t drink? Would they avoid talking to me because I wasn’t “one of them?”

4. How do I socialize without alcohol?

I always relied on alcohol as a social lubricant that made me more comfortable and confident in social situations. What kind of person would I be without alcohol – stone cold sober socializing with others? Would I be boring? Would I be awkward? Would I have fun?

I quickly realized that I was going to need to GO THROUGH these experiences in order to gain skills around them. To be honest they were difficult and uncomfortable…but the truth is once I saw myself survive the awkward conversations a few times, it got easier and I got more confident in my decision.

So here are some tips I have for you as you navigate the challenges that come with showing up sober to social functions.

  1. If you’re the life of the party.

We have to become aware of how much our IDENTITY is wrapped up in alcohol. And this is something that will be uncomfortable to change at first. But the good news is that it’s CHANGEABLE. And even if you’re the life of the party – there will always be other people who will take that role… so it doesn’t need to rest on your shoulders. It helped me to write down the new identity I wanted to have and to revisit that everyday. Even though I automatically identified as a “party girl” – I didn’t want that label anymore. So I started to shift my identity to other things like someone who loves to wake up early, someone who enjoys being sober at parties to really engage in meaningful conversations, someone who actually likes to be the designated driver because it helps my friends. So here is your invitation to realize that you can change your identity, and it just takes a little practice.

2. Having the conversation about your decision to not drink.

Okay to be honest this was probably the most terrifying piece for me. Just the thought of it would cause heaps of anxiety to swell in my chest and my mind to go blank. Why was I so afraid of this? I think it was because I was afraid to be judged and not liked by my friends. But what really helped me to navigate these conversations was to:

Develop an arsenal of responses to the various questions about why I’m not drinking. This made me realize there are so many clever ways we can respond to this that we really don’t need to be afraid at all. Things like, “no thanks I’m getting up early for a workout” or “no thanks I’m driving” or “no thanks I’m not in the mood.”

Respond with CONFIDENCE. I found that when I responded with total confidence and assurance, it helped tremendously. I recommend you rehearse your responses beforehand and whatever you say, say it confidently without wavering.

3. What will people think?

Now that I’m over three years sober I’ve learned that most people don’t even notice if I’m drinking or not (especially after they’ve had a few drinks)…and that it was all in my head. They are more focused on their own drinks and experience than you – trust me.

4. How do I socialize without alcohol?

Like with anything we haven’t practiced in a while – we’ll be a little rusty and need to be willing to experience discomfort. But what’s also cool with doing new things is that as we see ourselves do them – and do them well – our confidence builds and we get better. One thing I’ll say is that I realized I was a better friend when I wasn’t drinking. When I was drinking I was only focused on the alcohol and getting my next drink… My friends were secondary. So that was a powerful realization for me that made me appreciate my sober self more than my drinking self.

Katie Lain recovered from her own alcohol use disorder over four years ago using a holistic, evidence-based approach that included medication therapy. She had great success with this treatment and has been a coach and advocate in this space ever since. Katie also co-founded Thrive Alcohol Recovery to provide a holistic treatment program for people who want to change their relationship with alcohol using medication therapy. You can learn more at https://www.thrivealcoholrecovery.com/ and https://www.jointhrivecommunity.com/.

Dryuary Prep Work: Planning for Success

brown wooden blocks on white surface

D.I.Y. DRY

An excerpt from The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month (Harper Design) by Hilary Sheinbaum

Some people wake up in the morning (or afternoon) of January 1 and decide, with their New Year’s Eve hangover raging and nausea at its peak, to give up drinking on the spot. Others benefit from a little prep ahead of January 1 (and also benefit from having something to get excited about as December winds down).

Will you play Dry January, Sober October, or other periods of time, on the fly—day by day—or will you map out your month and have things to look forward to? Or will your strategy involve a combination of planned outings and spontaneous get-togethers? Whatever method prevents you from taking even just one sip of alcohol, do that. The choice is yours to make. But remember: While an entire month of drink-free days and nights is the objective, it’s still important to enjoy yourself (and live your life) along the way.

Your options:

1. Be strategic about your sober month ahead of time (translation: before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve). In the December days leading up to the New Year, you can opt to toss out, give away, or hide (in unreachable places) all of your alcohol if you think having bottles around may be too tempting throughout.

2. Develop a month-long outline to maintain a super-fun (still dry) social calendar—or don’t. Strategize how to remain strong in these social settings. Cutting ties with your drinking buddies isn’t necessary, but taking the lead on planning activities that are unrelated to bars, clubs, and alcohol in general will help you feel social during what can be a cold, dreary, post-holiday blues-y month. Sometimes drafting a blueprint is the best path for success.

3. What you share is important, too: like who you talk to about your challenge and the platforms in which you indulge your acquaintances (or don’t). Be as verbal or secretive about your challenge as you want. Whatever works for you. (Because why not do what’s going to help you succeed in the long run?)

LIMIT YOUR TRIGGERS

Just like hiding booze (or donating bottles and tools to friends), you may find it helpful to eliminate booze-related reminders. Doing so may keep FOMO (fear of missing out) at bay.

After all, out of sight = out of mind.

Beyond activities and plans, consider:

• Putting away your bottle-opener keychains and refrigerator magnets.

• Pausing that monthly wine subscription delivery.

• Monitoring your music selection and playlists, temporarily removing songs with lyrics about boozing or popping bottles.

• Steering clear of sitcoms and movies that take place in bars and/or revolve around drinking culture.

There are many ways to survive (and thrive!) throughout a month without the consumption of cocktails. The point is this: If you’re going to do something right, do it your way, and do it yourself (DIY)!

Welcome to Dryuary!

white snowman on snow covered ground during daytime

Congratulations- You are about to join us for Dryuary 2022!

If your resolution is to Reset, Rejuvenate and Reflect this January without alcohol blurring your intent, our resolution is to help you honor  that intention. Daily emails and posts on this site along with support from your fellow Dryuary members will keep you on course to a healthier, more clear-sighted and  productive start to 2022.

Dryuary™ is sponsored by Moderation Management™
Moderation Management™ (MM) is a national support group network for people concerned about their drinking and who desire to make positive lifestyle changes.

Moderation Management™ is a 501(c)(3) IRS-registered non-profit organization.

We have a book!

All of the wonderful, timeless posts from our Dryuary 2019 contributors have been compiled into the Dryuary 2019 Collection available in a kindle book on Amazon. Proceeds from sales of the book will go to support Moderation Management and future Dryuary campaigns.