Millions of people across the U.S. and elsewhere are ringing in the New Year by doing "Dry January": completely abstaining from all forms of alcohol for the first month of the year. As a New Year's health reset, it makes sense: after the parties of the festive period, many of us come into January feeling the need for a reassessment of our habits. At its core, Dry January isn't about feeling smug with your mocktail; it can prompt a new understanding of what role alcohol plays in your life, and also change your body and your brain.
Every January I've ever celebrated has been dry; I don't drink because of health issues and haven't all my life. However, Dry January is part of a growing trend of people who are, as mindful drinking organization Club Soda calls it, "sober curious." Trend watchers indicate that mocktails and non-alcoholic alternatives are now far more common on cocktail menus and in bars than they once were. Whether people just want to live without hangovers or are keen to see how they fare without alcohol, going alcohol-free is more popular than ever. Here's how doing Dry January, or giving up alcohol for a lengthy period at any point in the year, affects your brain.