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I'm 5 Days Away From Completing Dry January And Here's What I've Learned About Booze

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To put it simply, I have a very love/hate relationship with alcohol — I love it, it hates me. Even a single glass of wine (which, let's be real, never ends there) will leave me feeling groggy and disoriented the next day. This fact alone should make me want to be "Dry Forever", not just "Dry January", but, a las, I'm 26 years old and alcohol is the gateway to any prospective social life I might have. Yes, I realize how sad that sounds, but, you go ahead and find me a group of young professionals who play Scrabble and drink Chamomile tea at happy hour — yeah, that's what I thought, pal.

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To be clear, I'm not condemning drinking culture whatsoever; it's a good f'in time. The quandary, however, exists in finding your place outside of that lifestyle as a person of a certain age. Even with these concerns, I've decided to go Dry For January. For those of you unaware of what that means, it's pretty simple — in the 30 days following New Year's Eve (circa right now) I'm abstaining from drinking alcohol.

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Dry For January or, Dry January, as it was originally called, began as a public health campaign in The U.K. urging people to give up alcohol for the month. Logistically, it could take place in any month, but seeing as January is often a representation of new beginnings it stuck, and here we are. To be honest, I'm not all that concerned. Then again, I'm only five days in. There's a strong possibility I'm going to be contemplating swallowing mouth wash in a week for a little buzz. OK, that was extreme. This isn't an episode of Intervention.

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In the spirit of being perfectly transparent, I don't drink Monday-Thursday. I know I'm going to breeze through the week days like Rocky-f'in-Balboa. When it comes to the weekends, I'm less confident. I've been known to drink like a 21-year-old Frat Star every now and again (read: every Friday night) and giving that up may prove difficult, especially if I have plans. The good news? The holidays are over and hibernation season is in full swing.

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Week 1

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I plan to update every week, informing you guys of the various challenges I'm sure to face. For example, it's 3:00 PM on a Friday and I'm craving a beer. I'm less than a week in. This is not good, but I will prevail. Stay tuned, and if any readers care to join me, by all means, I could use all the boring sober friends I can get.

Week 2

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Alright, so, I know online headlines can be a little dramatic at times, but, for real, I've had a handful of dreams this past week about drinking. To be fair, I do watch a lot of A&E before bed and more often than not an episode of Intervention will lull me to sleep. What can I say? Human suffering makes me tired. Anyway, as mentioned earlier, I don't drink during the week, so, despite my weird dreams, I'm not exactly fiending for a drink. Last weekend was pretty easy too! It was properly F'in freezing on the East Coast and leaving my house to buy booze would have been far too much work. That being said, I am a wee-bit concerned for this weekend. You see, I have a birthday party to attend and I have no shame in admitting I haven't attended a birthday party sober since Kindergarten. OK, maybe not Kindergarten, but you know what I mean. It should be real interesting to see how this sober partying thing goes. Perhaps I'lll order a Red Bull — or maybe I'll just go home after 20 minutes. Overall, I do feel healthier — I'm eating better, I'm sleeping better, and my skin is less problematic! Whether that's psychological or not remains to be seen. I'll be sure to update y'all next week! In the mean time, drink double for me. Erm, make it triple, will you, please?

Week 3

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I've got to admit, guys. This is getting progressively easier! As we speak, a few of my coworkers are enjoying wine and beer in the common space, but, here I sit, chugging water and pretending it's vodka. Fun fact: I don't even like vodka. OK, so, yes, there are times that not drinking sucks, but for the most part it's pretty freakin' great. I haven't been hungover since, well, New Year's Day. Last weekend's party was a success! As far as health benefits goes, my skin looks really nice. At least that's what I've been told — I'm not just being cocky. Alcohol is notorious for causing breakouts, puffiness, and dryness, by the way. Seriously thought, the best benefit is saving money. I basically haven't spent money on the weekends which makes my cash situation pretty damn liquid — even if my glasses are empty. Pretty clever, huh? If you're thinking of trying this out next month, I'm going to declare week 3 the easiest thus far! So, there's my update!

Week 4

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OK, guys, here we are! My final Friday of Dry For January. For starters, not having a single hangover in 26 days feels pretty F'in awesome. As I've explained in earlier posts, I do not handle hangovers well. I convince myself I'm dying, sometimes I wonder if I really am — so, to not feel that is better than all the top shelf liquor in the world. As far as additional physical benefits, I can now confirm with certainty that drinking alcohol really does mess with your skin! If you're prone to breakouts, quitting the sauce for a bit can work wonders! To be honest, that's the only real drastic physical change I've noticed. The other benefits, however, are just as noteworthy.

The money saving aspects are incredible. I'm way too generous when I'm drunk, so, not buying myself and the entire bar drinks has made my wallet very (very) happy. I haven't calculated exactly how much money I've saved, but I'd venture to say enough to pay a couple of my bills. Finally, because I'm not drinking, I've become hyperaware of drinking culture in general. My walk to the train every night is in Times Square — meaning I pass, oh, I don't know, 10-12 pubs. All of the signs reading, "It's 5'o'clock somewhere" or "You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning" went from being cute to, erm, problematic.

I will without a doubt return to drinking, but the way society promotes not alcohol, but alcohol abuse, is pretty apparent to me now. Is it really necessary for bars to offer Happy Hour specials that include a beer and shot at the same time? Or how about those restaurants that offer margaritas the size of an infant. Sure, it might just be for shock value, but, someone, somewhere, is going to drink that, and really, it's beyond unhealthy. When you take a conscious step back and analyze not only your relationship with alcohol, but how you've been conditioned to consume it, well, it changes your perspective.

Overall, alcohol is good and bad and fun and dangerous — I've known this for years. Life is nothing if not about moderation, but remember, if you're not about a partying/drinking lifestyle, don't be! Just because you pass 10 pubs on the way home, doesn't mean you have to go in one. Just because every meme on the internet says blacking out is funny, doesn't mean you have to laugh. Have a beer, have 10, it's of no consequence to me! Just recognize and accept responsibility for your decisions, that's all! I hope that didn't read too much like a PSA from the 1980s. I'm just sayin', there's more to life than boozing.

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