A dry January isn’t uncommon.
As one Manitoba expert puts it, it’s a growing phenomenon that gets more and more people curious about a side of life unbothered by drinking or the use of other substances. It’s also something that’s increased in popularity among people who are simply “dry-curious” or those struggling with addiction or substance-use.
Greg Kyllo, executive director at the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre, said exploring options for not drinking can be appreciated by anyone looking to improve their lives. The phenomenon involves cutting off the use of alcohol for the entire month of January.
Kyllo said embarking on a dry spell requires setting goals. While they may not be effective on their own, he added when combined with other factors such as health improvement, a goal can be part of the solution one takes to support a change in their behaviour.
“Talking about people who are just looking at it from (a perspective of) improving their health… having a plan in place that really connects you to the why of what’s motivating you is at the heart of the change,” said Kyllo. “It connects us to what’s really important for us and why we’re doing it for ourselves.”
That motivation, he said, can also be used by someone struggling with addiction, noting that what motivates a person does not matter as much as how much it can push them to get to the goal they’ve set. But in order to do so, he added the motivation should focus less on external factors and more on an intrinsic belief that it is something one needs.
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“Using external motivation can definitely help. But if it’s your sole motivation, the evidence suggests that it… doesn’t have the same probability of leading to long term behaviour change as it does when it’s more of an intrinsic motivation,” said Kyllo.
Other things that can help include embarking on a sober journey with someone else. According to Kyllo, that aspect of accountability, gained even by just informing loved ones of the decision to cut down on drinking, makes the journey a lot more real. And when someone does leave behind the drinking, Kyllo said it’s good to fill that hole with more positive behaviours such as exercising or changing up your social crowd.
As for anyone who is looking to get back on track for a dry January, Kyllo said it’s important to know that they can get right back on track.
“If someone has substance use disorder, (reach) out for help right away. For anyone, if you’re struggling, there is a lot of help,” said Kyllo. “The best thing you can do is just get right back on track. Just reset and start again and know that you haven’t lost all those days that you weren’t drinking.”
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