How to stay sober once Dry January has ended


Pamela Roberts, a therapist at the Priory Group, offers her advice for anyone wanting to maintain sobriety after a month of abstinence

Dry January, the annual month-long alcohol-free challenge, is a great opportunity to improve your health by binning the booze – but what do you do when 1st February comes around?

Some people find it difficult to maintain sobriety once Dry January is over, slipping back into old habits or making up for lost time. If you want to maintain your newfound sobriety beyond the month of January, there are steps you can take. Here are six tips from Pamela Roberts, a therapist at the Priory Group, who treats those with addiction issues every day. 

1. Keep a dry house
Keeping a dry house is the best way to start, but it means more than making sure there is no drink in your home. Try to think of it as an alcohol-free sanctuary. Find a new non-alcoholic go-to drink and lean on that when you get cravings. Sometimes, the action of opening a drink after work is all you need, even if it’s a non-alcoholic beer

2. Use the compliments as motivation
Revel in the compliments you get. It’s nice to hear people say: “Wow, you’re looking great.” These are good things to remember later on, when temptations might creep in. The first few months of abstinence are when you’ll feel the biggest difference, so you should make the most of this good feeling and remind yourself that things have changed for the better.

Pamela Roberts of Priory Group

Pamela Roberts of Priory Group

3. Take note of how you feel
For the same reasons, you should also take note of changes to the way you feel. It might only be little things, like having a clearer mind, feeling healthier, being more tolerant or having more patience, but all these improvements make a big difference to your quality of life.

4. Stick to a schedule
It can be tricky at times, but do your best to keep to your regular sleep times, eat as normally as you can, and keep reaching out to people if you feel a little down and need to avoid loneliness. Avoiding becoming hungry, angry, lonely or tired are all really important if you want to keep cravings at bay.

5. Be cautious around social media
Social media can be the catalyst for feelings of sadness, which in turn lead you to want a drink, so be cautious with your use. If you find that spending time online is making you feel worse, take this as an opportunity to do a digital detox as well as a drink detox. You might also want to join an online group of likeminded people who are also changing their relationship with alcohol

6. Keep busy
Plan your time. Being in your house for long periods can lead to boredom, which could lead you back to having a drink. Consider picking up a new hobby, or finally learning that instrument you’ve always wanted to learn. Be productive and keep your mind busy

7. Practice mindfulness
When you find yourself tempted, perhaps at a time of the day or week when you would normally have had a drink in the past, make use of a relaxation or meditative smartphone app to bring your mind away from drinking and onto something different. Use this time to reflect on all the progress you have made. If you do have a lapse, just start again. Do not consider yourself a failure

Other benefits of giving up alcohol
There are a whole host of other social and health-based benefits to giving up alcohol for just a month. If you can stretch your sobriety beyond that, you’ll likely find that:

— You sleep better. Alcohol is a huge disturber of proper sleep. Giving it up will leave you feeling more refreshed and energetic in the day.

— Your blood pressure reduces. This can help to reduce the risk of heart problems or strokes.

— Your liver is healthier. Over time your liver will function better, helping it to do a better job and keep your healthy.

— You’ll have more money. It’s estimated the average person spends over £900 a year on alcohol. Just think what you could do with that extra money.