The famous poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Moderation in all things, especially moderation.” For a healthy life, you need food, sleep, social interaction, and so much more in moderation. It is good to binge sometimes and enjoy things in excess, as Emerson said, but binging is supposed to be done in moderation, as well. Participating in Dry January is another form of moderating your drinking or drug use. However, if your drinking is developing into addiction and you were able to stay substance-free for a whole month, how can you stay sober after Dry January?
What Is Dry January?
Like Sober October, Dry January is monthlong of not drinking or using drugs. It is supposed to be a personal challenge to refrain from substances. As a symbol of the new year and new beginnings, Dry January is supposed to help you start the year off fresh and clean.
There are health benefits of abstaining from substances for a month, such as clearer skin and less brain fog. However, the benefits can depend on the severity of addiction, the length of substance use, sex, and age.
Benefits of Sobriety From Alcohol
If you have committed to Dry January, you might have already experienced some of the withdrawal symptoms. Gettings substances out of your system cause physical and mental effects, usually the opposite effect of the substances. For example, alcohol can make you feel energetic and silly with lowered inhibitions. Withdrawal effects would potentially include lethargy, depression, and cloudy thoughts.
Withdrawal symptoms subside over time. Without substances present in your body, your health and wellness can improve.
Improved Physical Health and Relationships
When you have an addiction, you can develop a maladaptive lifestyle to support your substance use. This can look like spending your food money on substances or not bathing consistently due to intoxication.
Getting sober, even for a month, may contribute to you building a healthy lifestyle. By eating consistently and taking care of your physical needs, you may experience improvements in your:
- Physical functioning: Abstinence can provide you with more energy, motivation, and overall functioning
- Organ functioning: Abstinence can allow important organs, such as your heart and your lungs, to regenerate and improve
- Relationships: Abstinence can give you the energy to rebuild, restore, and maintain relationships
Increased Mental Capacity
Studies have shown that improving your mental capacity after substance abuse may take months of abstinence and healing. However, when you can get sober, especially if you started already with Dry January, then your brain function may improve sooner than you think.
Some of the cognitive improvements you may experience with abstinence can include, but are not limited to:
- Improved memory
- Clearer thinking
- Ability to make more sound decisions
- Better focus
- Better stress management
Improved Mental Health
Allowing your brain and body to heal from substance abuse can greatly improve your mental health. This is important because your mental health affects your social, psychological, and emotional well-being. With improved mental health, you may be able to better manage your emotions or, at the very least, better manage your emotions with social support.
Managing emotions can be crucial for those recovering from addiction. Memories, intrusive thoughts, and challenging situations can all contribute to distressing emotions. Being able to manage these emotions appropriately requires you to use coping skills instead of using substances.
Decreased Risk of Other Disorders or Diseases
Substances can take over your life after developing SUD. You may have found yourself making decisions based on getting your next fix. However, this is in part due to the effects of substances on your brain. Drugs and alcohol can alter the way your brain works and communicates with the rest of your body.
With SUD, you may engage in dangerous activities such as unprotected sex or participating in high-risk behaviors. However, when you stop your substance use, your mental capacity will increase, which can decrease impulsivity and engagement in high-risk activities.
Sobriety After Dry January
You may have been at risk for developing an addiction due to your biology, the environment you were raised, and/or your development. If you were raised in negative or otherwise traumatic environments, you might have started using substances to manage intrusive thoughts and emotions. In recovery, you may require additional support to manage those emotions and thoughts.
Lighthouse Recovery Texas offers flexible programming that works with your schedule and life. You can participate in one of our several treatment programs without disrupting your life. If you choose, these programs can be subtle in your life, so your employer, coworkers, or others do not have to know about your recovery journey.
While living your life and taking care of your responsibilities, an intensive outpatient program (IOP) can offer you the opportunity to participate in a customizable, flexible program. For 12 weeks, you only have to attend three group therapy sessions and one individual therapy session per week. Lighthouse Recovery even offers night courses for people with busy schedules during the day.
If you have already been through IOP and need a lower level of care or want continued support after leaving treatment, recovery coaching can be a good next option. With continued accountability, you will work with your recovery coach to create goals, build and strengthen family connections, and implement stress management techniques in your life. Recovery coaches are your advocate, supporter, and liaison. Your comfort and recovery must be prioritized, and recovery coaches can ensure that your healing process addresses these elements and more.
Did you have the strength to get sober for Dry January? You should be proud of yourself because getting sober can be difficult and painful. We at Lighthouse Recovery Texas believe sobriety is possible with the right support. Dry January was the first step to sobriety, treatment may be the next step. Treatment does not have to disrupt your life but can smoothly fit around work, school, family, pets, or other obligations you may have. With several levels of care, dual diagnosis treatment, and different treatment modalities, you can create a program to fit your unique and individual needs. Call us at (214) 396-0259 to set up an assessment before January is over.