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Offering an opportunity for the body, mind and wallet to get a little bit of a reset, Dry January has been growing in popularity in the last several years, in the United Kingdom where it began as well as throughout the world.

Get ready to learn more about and celebrate Dry January!

History of Dry January

Alcohol use has been part of different cultures and societies for thousands of years. While many people find that alcohol is an enjoyable part of their lives, it can have a tendency to create some difficulties and even throw their health out of balance. Some of the things people want to avoid may include the calories from alcohol that can create weight gain, as well as the cost involved with drinking alcohol.

Taking the month of January to reset and rebuild new, healthy habits is what Dry January is all about. While the term first made an appearance in the early 2000s, the official day didn’t happen until about a decade later. It all started in 2011 when Emily Robinson signed up to run a half marathon in February and realized she needed to get her body ready during the month of January.

Because her training regimen included giving up alcohol, she found that she was sleeping better, losing weight and had more energy. So the following year, Emily joined Alcohol Change UK and decided to give up drinking for the month of January again.

The following year, Alcohol Change UK launched its official celebration of Dry January and the practice has been catching on over the years since then. In 2014, Dry January became a registered trademark by the Alcohol Change UK charity.

As it turns out, many people have been finding that Dry January offers a variety of benefits to their lives. When a group of people who had participated in Dry January were surveyed, it was discovered that the celebration of the day had helped them to establish healthier habits around drinking.

Each year, many of the people who participate in Dry January have considered it to be a positive experience, saying that they have lost weight and are drinking less even six months later. Many of them have dropped from ‘harmful’ categories of drinking to ‘low risk’.

In a few countries, like in Czech Republic or Canada, the non-drinking month is actually celebrated as Dry February. But no matter when it is, the concept is the same – bringing balance and health to thousands of people by helping them reset their drinking habits.

Dry January Timeline

7000 BC

Earliest alcoholic beverages

Evidence of some of the earliest alcoholic beverages in pottery date back to this time in China.[1]


Alcoholics Anonymous begins

Started by two alcoholics, one a stockbroker and one a surgeon, AA is organized to help people kick alcoholism.[2]


Dry January founder prepares for a half marathon

Emily Robinson gives up booze in January to help prepare for the race in February, laying the groundwork for the Dry January.[3]


Dry January is first celebrated

Beginning in the UK, Dry January is a public initiative sponsored by the British Charity, Alcohol Change UK, with 4000 people participating.[4]


Dry January reaches even more people

Increasing in popularity, nearly 1 in 5 adults participates in Dry January.[5]

How to Celebrate Dry January

Dry January can be celebrated in a variety of different ways that bring about healthy change. Get started by implementing some of these ideas for enjoying Dry January:

Give Up or Reduce Drinking Alcohol

One of the main ways to celebrate Dry January is to stay sober and not drink any alcohol for the first 31 days of the year. This might feel like a big deal to some people who tend to have a beer every day after work or go out drinking with friends on the weekend. But when it is done together as a community, it can be a healthy and supportive life choice.

Host a Dry January Event

Have tons of fun at an event, even without the alcohol! Invite friends, coworkers or family members over for a Dry January get together. Enjoy playing bartender in a new way by mixing up some delicious mocktails or try out some alcohol free wines and beers. Invite some friends over, pump up the music, play some games and have a ton of fun in Dry January!

Learn More About the Benefits of Dry January

Consider some of these benefits when enjoying Dry January:

  • Energy and Mood Boost

    Feel better about life and get an increased amount of energy during the month. Since alcohol acts as a depressant, reducing or cutting out alcohol consumption can help to promote a better mental attitude and reduce fatigue.

  • Weight Loss and Bloating Reduction

    Alcoholic beverages are chock full of empty calories that are typically not replaced in other ways, which means people often lose weight during Dry January. In addition, people tend to eat less junk food and snacks when they are not drinking alcohol. 

  • Increased Hydration

    Alcohol has a tendency to cause dehydration. So that means that when alcohol is replaced by other beverages, especially water, fruit juices or other caffeine free drinks, people stay hydrated more easily and feel better.

  • Improved Liver Health

    Taking time off from drinking alcohol can help to reduce inflammation that is induced by alcohol, which promotes better health of this vitally important organ. 

Try Out Some Mocktails

Try out some of these deliciously tasty alcohol free cocktails that will bring a smile to faces. Check out some of these recipes:

  • Frozen Apple Margarita. Use a typical frozen margarita recipe but, instead of the tequila, substitute some sparkling apple juice in the recipe. Don’t forget the slices of green apple as well as lime zest as a decorative garnish.
  • Cranberry Sangria. This punch is perfect for a summer party! Pineapple, orange, passion fruit, cranberry juice and ginger beer. Serve with pomegranate seeds.
  • Watermelon “Nojitos”. Turn a mojito into something minty and citrusy, with a melony twist. Use limes and lime juice, chilled soda water, and fresh watermelon chunks.
  • Pink Grapefruit Fizz. Start with red grapefruit juice, add a bit of sugar and soda water, and then add some peeled slices of ruby red grapefruit. It’s a tasty and refreshing, citrusy beverage.

Volunteer to be the Driver

Since someone needs to be the designated driver anyway, people who participate in Dry January can volunteer to drive their friends home from parties or going out. That way, it’s still possible to participate in the fun with friends, but everyone is sure to get home safely as well.

Dry January FAQs

What are the rules of Dry January?

Really, the only rule of Dry January is to not drink alcohol.

Why do people do Dry January?

People celebrate Dry January to be healthier, save money and lose weight after a season of winter holiday indulgence.[1]

When did Dry January become a thing?

Dry January got its start in 2013 in an effort to get people to think more carefully about how much they drink.[2]

Are there benefits to Dry January?

People surveyed about Dry January said they saved money, slept better, improved their health and lost weight.[3]

Is Dry January bad for you?

Some people think that Dry January is bad because participants could overcompensate by binge drinking the rest of the year.[4]

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