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OPINION: Self-imposed sobriety isn’t too bad

This article expresses the views of its author(s), separate from those of this publication. Readers are encouraged to comment or submit a Letter to the Editor to share their opinions. To submit a Letter to the Editor, follow the instructions here.

To paraphrase a book I’ve never read, it is a truth universally acknowledged that alcohol can be bad for you. From liver damage and high blood pressure to regrettable actions and memory loss, we’ve all become aware of the adverse effects of one too many. With holiday indulgences firmly behind us, a break was in order.

I especially needed a sober sabbatical. Each year, December is a holiday triple-header consisting of my birthday, Christmas and New Year’s. I even had an Advent calendar containing 24 days of German pints. This flood of fermented grains into my body was precisely why I participated in “Dry January” this year.

This voluntary vow has become increasingly popular each year. According to CivicScience, intended participation for “Dry January” increased from 24% in 2022 to 27% in 2023. People are becoming more and more health-conscious, which is why sales of non-alcoholic beverages and mocktails are also increasing.

Where did “Dry January” come from, though? The challenge started in the United Kingdom in 2011 when Emily Robinson abstained from drinking alcohol to help train for her first half marathon. Long story short, she ended up enjoying the benefits of sobriety so much that she joined Alcohol Change UK to create the “Dry January” campaign. Over a decade later, people worldwide continue to participate officially and unofficially.

So, what was my experience with “Dry January?” Putting it simply, it’s not that bad.

If I were doing this as a freshman (for the record, I don’t support nor encourage underage drinking), I would’ve had a much more significant challenge. For most college students, that portion of one’s life is all about understanding that hangovers suck and missing classes has consequences. Thankfully, my partying impulses have been sated, and I can buy beer at 9 a.m. if I want to.

Now, aside from December, the only drinks I have in a typical week are a beer or two with a Friday dinner and a cocktail to sip on for Saturday. I’m just chill like that, I guess.

With my everyday drinking habits being pretty tame, “Dry January” wasn’t exactly a nail-biter. I treated the month more like a factory reset after almost daily drinking in December. I have to say, I did notice improvements in how I felt. I was more energized, drank a lot more water and I think I even lost a few pounds.

There were some challenges, though. A friend was turning 21, and One Night Taco Stand had some good-looking margaritas. There were also a few nights with the guys where I couldn’t indulge.

Nevertheless, I persisted and didn’t waste a single opportunity to remind my friends about my self-imposed sobriety (sorry, y’all). Dry January wouldn’t be a challenge without some, well, challenges.

During the month, I was also surprised by the plethora of non-alcoholic options available. Forever an explorer of gastric delights, I used “Dry January” as an opportunity to try a few brands. First off was Heineken’s non-alcoholic entrant, Heineken 0.0. I was shocked when it tasted exactly like a regular bottle of Heineken. Another win for the Dutch.

Athletic Brewing Company’s non-alcoholic Run Wild IPA (Ethan Leckie)

I also tried two beer varieties from Athletic Brewing Company—their flagship Run Wild IPA and Upside Dawn Golden. Again, I was impressed, especially by the IPA, which tasted as hoppy and crisp as any other. It made me feel much less guilty at only 65 calories and 14 grams of carbs. Yay, America.

Overall, my favorite part of Dry January was accomplishing a feat of discipline I hadn’t tried before. One of the biggest things I want to work on in 2024 is being more disciplined. Whether it’s about sticking to a healthier diet or committing to my professional and academic goals, I want to be more structured. Reaching the end of January without a drop of alcohol consumed proved to me that I could make a goal and follow through with it.

So, when December rolls around again, consider giving dry a try. Not only will your liver thank you, but you might even learn a thing or two about yourself. Or the growing non-alcoholic beverage industry. You can definitely spend a whole month trying their options.

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About the Contributor
Ethan Leckie, Opinions Editor
A Pad Thai enthusiast, NASCAR follower, and Jon Bois fanboy, Ethan Leckie is a third-year journalism major at the University of North Florida, minoring in international studies. He first began his involvement with Spinnaker as a volunteer reporter in the fall of 2021 and currently holds the position of Opinions Editor. Ethan has always had a passion for writing and hopes to work for a newspaper one day. He enjoys watching YouTube, cooking, and visiting restaurants in his free time. If you see him on campus, ask him about his pieces- he loves to talk about them!

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