Alcohol-Free January

Saying Goodbye to Dry January: Deciding Whether to Return to Drinking or Continue Sobriety

John Risby
by John Risby
Published: February 01, 2023 Last updated: March 30, 2024
Lightbox Sign saying 'The End?'
As the calendar turns to February, many people who have committed to a dry month may be wondering what comes next.
Incidentally, how is it that January seems to drag on and on, yet February arrives in a flash, almost yelling “Get ready, it’ll soon be January again – enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think!”?
For some people, the decision to return to drinking may be an easy one, while others may be considering continuing on their sober journey. Whatever decision you make, it’s important to take the time to reflect on the past month and evaluate what feels right for you.
Dry January encourages people to give up alcohol for the month in order to reset their relationship with alcohol, improve their physical and mental health, and consider their overall drinking habits. It’s become increasingly popular in recent years, as more people look for ways to take control of their drinking and improve their well-being.
As you reflect on the past month, it’s important to consider the challenges and successes you’ve experienced. Maybe you’ve noticed improved sleep quality, increased energy, or weight loss. Or perhaps you’ve realised how much time and money you were previously spending on drinking. These are important benefits that should be taken into account as you make your decision about whether to return to drinking or continue on your sober journey.
When it comes to deciding whether to return to drinking or continue on your sober journey, it’s important to take the time to reflect on your personal goals and values. What is important to you? Are you looking to improve your physical health or focus on your mental well-being? Are you looking to save money or have more control over your time? These are important considerations that can help guide your decision.

Feedback from our Community

One member of the Alcohol-Free Community gave us her experience of stopping in January, “I’ve completed it and fully intend to continue. A definite improvement in my sleep, mood and energy levels. Cravings have been surprisingly low even when others around me are drinking. Alcohol-Free beer has definitely helped keep me on track.”
Another member, a 69-year-old grandmother of eight , added “I’ve just finished dry January and fully intend to try to continue as don’t seem to have missed it”.
But there’s also some caution – albeit optimistic caution – from some members. One member, a 38-year-old single mum from the UK, told us: “I’ve done dry January and plan to continue. I’ve already noticed a mark improvement in my mental health, and I’m sleeping better.
“But I know it will take a while before physically I feel great, but I want that feeling again so I plan to continue.
“I’m not putting pressure on myself, but as it stands, I’m feeling good and plan to continue.”

Returning to drinking?

If you decide to return to drinking, it’s important to set boundaries and maintain moderation. This may mean limiting the number of drinks you have per week or setting specific times when you will not drink. It’s also important to be aware of potential triggers and to develop strategies for avoiding relapse. Additionally, seeking support and accountability can be helpful in maintaining moderation. Some strategies to consider include:
  1. Setting specific drinking goals, such as limiting alcohol consumption to weekends only or limiting yourself to two drinks per night (remember, it’s now generally accepted that there’s no safe limit of alcohol consumption but, if you’re going to drink, setting a limit will help keep it in check)
  2. Finding healthy alternatives to alcohol, such as going for a walk or practicing mindfulness
  3. Seeking support from a professional, such as a counsellor or addiction specialist
  4. Joining a support group, such as the Alcohol-Free Community, to connect with others who are working to maintain moderation or stop drinking completely.

Potential challenges ahead if you continue

Continuing on a sober journey after Dry January can be a challenging but rewarding experience.
Some potential challenges to consider include:
  1. Dealing with social pressure to drink, such as in social gatherings or events where alcohol is present
  2. Overcoming cravings and temptations
  3. Managing stress and anxiety, as alcohol may have been previously used as a coping mechanism
  4. Facing negative thoughts and emotions that may have been suppressed by drinking
  5. Finding new social activities and hobbies to replace the time previously spent drinking
However, despite these challenges, many people find that continuing sobriety leads to increased self-awareness, improved relationships, and greater overall well-being.
Additionally, seeking support from friends, family, professionals, and support groups, can help make the journey easier.


Ultimately, the decision to return to drinking or continue on a sober journey after Dry January is a personal one that requires reflection and self-evaluation.
Whether you decide to return to drinking or continue on your sober journey, it’s important to set boundaries, maintain moderation, and seek support as needed.
Whatever you decide, remember that every step forward, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction towards a happier and healthier life.
John Risby

About The Author

John Risby
Co-Founder of The Alcohol-Free Shop and John is a recovering alcoholic who stopped drinking in June 2004. Born and raised in Manchester, he now lives in Malaga with his wife and young daughter. He came to terms with being an alcoholic many years ago, but still finds the concept his daughter is Spanish very strange.