11 Women Share Why They’re Doing Dry January

by Natalia Lusinski

With the New Year here, it’s time for goal-setting and following through on those goals. While some people have career and money goals, others have dating and health goals. Or, perhaps you have goals in all four categories, among others. Another common goal people try is to lessen or eliminate their drinking habits. For instance, Dry January is a popular time to take a break from alcohol, whether it’s for health reasons or other ones. Whatever the case may be, different women have different reasons for trying Dry January.

Dr. Sherry A. Ross, women’s health expert and author of she-ology. The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period., tells Bustle that, for many people, having a glass of wine, beer, or a cocktail can be a part of a daily dining, social, or religious ritual. “But, unfortunately, this may be a toast for bad health consequences,” she says. “Medical complications of excessive alcohol consumption can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, dementia, and increase your risk of breast, colon, and liver cancers.”

She says that those who drink regularly are also at higher risk of impulsive activity, depression, and anxiety, as well as relationship and employment problems. “For regular users, abstaining from alcohol, even for some or all of January, will have immediate health benefits that you will appreciate and embrace,” Dr. Ross says.

On that note, below, 11 women share why they’re trying Dry January this year.


Julie, 34

Ashley Batz/Bustle

“I am doing Dry January because I’d gotten to the point where I’d only skip one day of drinking — MAXIMUM — each week. I work from home and have two kids. I’m stressed out all the time from work, and I usually would start drinking at about 5-6 p.m. and not stop until 11 p.m.-12 a.m. I got to the point where I would order another bottle of Champagne or more beer after I would finish what I had in the house and then would blackout. Then I would spend the next morning hungover and not feel good enough to work until around 12-1 p.m.. In order for me to have more success in 2019 and reach my goals for my personal life and business, I knew I needed to stop drinking and prove to myself that I can have fun without drinking. I want to do this for myself and my family.”


Cole, 40

“After living in NYC for more than 14 years, I began to realize that drinking alcohol had simply become a routine — drinking wine and craft cocktails had become part of my foodie identity. However, as I’ve gotten a little older, this was one habit I knew wasn’t serving me. I was waking up in the middle of the night feeling restless even after having just one glass of wine, and I just didn’t feel rested. I knew I simply needed to test removing alcohol from my body, which is why I committed to Dry January. Since I’ve stopped drinking, I can sleep so much better, and wow, I feel like my cognition is just on fire — random associations coming together. I’ve seriously had more business ideas come together in the last five days than all of 2018. I feel like obstacles are just clearing for me. I seriously don’t know if I want to drink again — ever. Now that I know what this feels like, I know alcohol was poisoning my potential.”


Kalyn, 26

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“This is my third year doing Dry January! A few years ago around the end of December/beginning of January, I saw a lot of people posting about Dry January on Instagram, and that really made me think: When was the last time I went a whole month, or even just a few weeks, without a drink? When we step back and take a critical look, in our mid-20s, alcohol is involved in almost every social event or interaction we are involved in — drinks with a friend, an after-work happy hour, a book club and wine, beer while watching the football game, and the list goes on. I figured, why not try and see if I could make it a whole month without any alcohol, seeing as I love a good challenge. I also wanted to see what effects it would have on my health (sleep quality, skin, etc.) and see how much money I could potentially save.

When the month was over, it made me think twice about having a glass of wine or a beer when I could just as easily have a soda water or nothing at all. Also, I really did feel so much better when the month was over. Waking up on a Saturday or Sunday without even a slight hangover was amazing, and weekends were definitely more productive. This is something I am going to try and do every year, even if it isn’t in January specifically.”


Ellen, Early 30s

“I’ve decided to nix the alcohol in January so I can focus on my health again. [...] My skin really took a toll from the alcohol and sweets over the holidays. My skin has a little Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer thing going on [...] So I’m starting fresh with a cleaner system altogether.”


Suzanne, 30

Creative Family/Shutterstock

“Throughout the year, I drink socially and only sometimes have a glass of wine alone after work in the evenings. I maintain a fairly low tolerance this way, say, two drinks and I’m feeling the effect of the alcohol. However, during the holiday season, my alcohol intake increases dramatically between social events, hosting, and even at home feeling more celebratory — what’s a couple of mimosas mid-day in the spirit of the holidays? As such, in January, I like to take a step back and let my body do a bit of a cleanse, which helps me reset to my ‘healthier’ level of alcohol tolerance.”


Caroline, 24

“I decided to take part in Dry January as a reset to the way I approach and consume alcohol. I feel like, since college, there hadn’t been a length of time where I wasn’t enjoying a glass of wine or a beer every couple of days, and I wanted to see what it felt like to stop drinking. Turns out, it is easier than I thought so far. It is not hard to not drink, but I definitely feel like there are some activities that I cannot partake in, i.e., going out and grabbing a drink with a friend. I feel much lighter and brighter as a result of not drinking.”


Hilary, 45


“I decided that since I’m already eliminating sugar and caffeine, why not go the extra mile and ‘86’ alcohol? It wasn’t a hard choice for me since I’m not a heavy drinker. But with the New Year and starting fresh, I thought this would be a great time to kick it to the curb for the month and see where I am in 30 days. It’s really about seeing how my body reacts and how different I feel. And, as a health coach, I’m walking the walk and talking the talk with clients that are interested in doing the same. I don’t miss drinking, and on those nights I want to grab a glass of wine to unwind, I find that herbal tea suits me just fine.”


Ashley, 32

“I moved to Austin, TX, about a year ago and this city is amazing, but very social. I found that when I would go out, I would often just drink to be social and sometimes wouldn’t even enjoy it. For the New Year, I wanted to break this habit and give my body a reset. I have also read other success stories that say sleep is improved from giving up alcohol, and am testing this out for myself.”


Lori, 46

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“I’ve done Dry January every single year since 2009. [...] Instead of going to happy hours, I actually go to my workouts, and they last longer than they usually would. I cook all my meals at home, which saves money. [...] I get my life super organized and catch up on every movie, magazine, and museum I don’t have time to manage the rest of the year! I feel so elated after a couple of weeks. [...] You can do anything for 30 days, and trust me, you’ll look and feel like a new person once you reach the finish line.”


Jackie, 25

“I’m doing Dry January because it is a great way to start 2019 off on a healthy foot. I’m a few years out of college now and I’ve significantly decreased my drinking in that time, and the benefits even of drinking less are insane — like more energy and a better complexion. I want to see how good I can feel if I completely cut it out. Who knows, maybe the benefits will be so great I’ll never go back! Maybe!”


Anonymous, 25


“I’ve always been relatively casual about the amount I drink or smoke ever since I started at 21, never blacking out or vomiting or anything of that manner. However, in the past year, I’ve gotten a full-time job and long-ass commute home, which take up all of my daylight hours and leave me exhausted. The easiest way to wind down was a glass of wine and a bowl of weed because I never knew what to do at night. But chilling out that way made it so that I ended up doing nothing constructive with my time, each hour went too quickly, and I couldn’t truly remember what I had done. Add that to the fact that my roommates grew an absurd (but legal) amount of weed over the summer, which meant that there wasn’t a lack of resources to stop me from doing so — until finally I just got bored and sick of not having anything interesting about my life outside of my work.

With a new rice cooker, a resolution to eat fewer sweets, and do more physical activities (rock climbing, taking more walks, biking) also came an interest in drinking less and smoking less, starting with a month of neither weed nor wine. It just seems easier to start off clean and remind myself that I can wind down and have (even more) fun without any kind of drug to help me along.”

As you can see, the women above have several different reasons for doing Dry January. Although the motivations vary, all that matters is the “trying” part, and then — who knows — maybe a month of Dry January will lead to a good start to the New Year.