Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? Have you created a bucket list for the year? What about deciding to take part in a challenge? We have a challenge that might help you start this new year off in a clear, more refreshed and healthy way. But first, let’s take some time to think about things.
In a book titled Reclaim Your Life: You and the Alcoholic/Addict, author Carole Bennett, MA, considers addiction the nation’s number one health crisis. She writes that one in three failed marriages are attributed to issues involving addiction. Other sobering facts about addiction in the U.S., taken from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc., include:
• 15.4 million people are addicted to alcohol alone
• 18% of adults (one in five) have alcoholism in their family
• 10 million people are married to someone with alcoholism
• 85,000 annual deaths are due to alcohol
Not someone who deals with addiction? First, let’s be real … it can be hard to know where you stand while reflecting on your own drinking habits. Many binge drinkers believe they can stop whenever they want to and deny they may have a problem with addiction. However, if this type of drinker seriously tried to stay sober, he/she might find they are unable to. Many binge drinkers engage in drinking in order to numb pain, to forget or even to try to fit in. While having that drink might help improve things in the moment, these choices can (and often do) lead to bigger problems.
So, maybe you have enjoyed all the spiked eggnog you can stand and sipped the last of this year’s bubbly, and you are sensing the need for a break from alcohol. Let’s get back to the challenge we referred to at the start of this article. Introducing … “Dry January,” where people avoid booze for a whole month.
Here are some reasons this challenge may be appealing:
• More money. It is no secret that alcohol costs way more than soda. Without the booze tab, you will have money to spend on other things you have wanted.
• Better sleep. Alcohol degrades sleep quality by decreasing the amount of REM sleep experienced. Better rest also means having more energy to put toward the things that matter most to you.
• Weight loss. Not only do boozy beverages offer empty calories, but many of us make less-than-stellar food choices when drinking. Depending on your current drinking habits, you could lose a couple of pounds per week.
• Improved mood. Alcohol tends to make anxiety and depression worse, so you may find that your mood is actually more stable when not consuming alcohol.
• Clearer skin. Alcohol causes dehydration, which leads to dry, dull skin. It can also cause an increase in blood sugar and cortisol (the stress hormone), which is a recipe for breakouts.
Research tells us that people who take part in a Dry January challenge experience the benefits noted above, as well as a sense of achievement and improved overall health. So, here are some tips to help you be successful.
• Create a new routine. If you are used to grabbing a beer after work, do something else like working out, cooking a meal with your partner or meeting up with a friend (in person or video).
• Recruit a friend/family member to hold you accountable, or even better, to join the challenge with you. Being accountable helps improve the likelihood of success.
• Find a substitute, something else you enjoy drinking. Maybe you can find (or create) a mocktail that is tasty so you don’t feel like you are depriving yourself.
• Cultivate a new way to cope. If you were drinking to de-stress, it is important to find another way to relax and unwind. It is important you have a healthy alternative to help you succeed.
If you are interested in the challenge and would like additional support in getting through it successfully, the Department offers the following options: the SARP Coordinator, Peer Support members, chaplains, the Peace Officer’s Fellowship (POF) members listed above and Psychological Services Bureau, which you can call at (213) 738-3500 to schedule a confidential appointment. We are here to help.