Axios Finish Line: Celebrating the success of Dry January
If you tried Dry January and abstained from drinking for the month, you might be introducing alcohol back into your life now.
Why it matters: Studies show clear benefits to skipping alcohol — even for a short time.
By the numbers: 27% of Americans who drink said they planned to participate in Dry January this year, up from 24% last year, according to a CivicScience survey.
- A stunning 75% of young adults, 21- to 24-year-olds, said they planned to participate. That tracks with other data showing that younger people are drinking less.
Participants in a U.K. study (where the Dry January campaign started in 2013) reported saving money, feeling a sense of accomplishment, getting better sleep, having more energy, losing weight — and drinking less throughout the rest of the year.
Case in point: Axios' "1 big thing" podcast asked listeners who did Dry January to tell us how it went.
- "I've done it for a couple years now, and every time I find an improvement in my immunity for January. I find that my skin gets better, and I just feel more energized as a person." —Allison, 24, Pittsburgh.
- "I made it all the way to Saturday, January 26th. Did help me with a bit of weight loss; did help me with making some smart decisions." —Bradley, 45, Miami.
- "I've been really excited to see nonalcoholic beers that taste good made available because it's helped me feel like I can have fun without compromising on health." —Noah, 26, Arlington, Va.
Zoom out: Excessive drinking kills almost 140,000 people in the U.S. each year — almost double the amount of Americans who die from opioid overdoses, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
- And most alcohol-related deaths aren't from car accidents, but from the health effects of drinking too much over a long period of time, which can lead to chronic illnesses such as cancer and liver and heart disease.
- Those chronic diseases accounted for nearly 60% percent of alcohol-related deaths between 2015 and 2019.
- Excessive drinking is also the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, per the CDC.
What to watch: Younger Americans, between the ages of 18 and 34, have been reporting lower levels of drinking and lower amounts of overconsumption, according to Gallup.
- One driver of the trend may be increasing diversity. Gallup notes that white Americans tend to drink more, and the percentage of 18- to 34-year-olds who are Black, Hispanic, Asian or belong to other racial groups has nearly doubled in the U.S. in the last two decades.
- "It's just partly a cultural shift. As young adults become more racially and ethnically diverse, they are going to be less likely to drink," Lydia Saad, Gallup's director of U.S. social research, told Axios.
- Other reasons might include better education on binge drinking and the fact that younger people are more likely to use cannabis as a replacement substance, Saad said.
This article appeared in Axios Finish Line, our nightly newsletter on life, leadership and wellness. Sign up here.