Dry January and the rise of sobriety amongst Gen Z

No hangovers and better sleep, or the longest, most boring month of the year?

Dry January – the nice self guilt trip you enact on yourself after drinking yourself to death at Christmas and New Years. One month of sobriety then back to the piss-up in February – you can’t have Valentines without sharing a bottle of Lidl’s best, most romantic red wine, can you?

Sobriety is a sensitive topic, even in relation to Dry January. It is undeniable it is a hot topic, probably will always be, so do not take anything said in this article as the final word on the subject. It will forever be a subjective topic, one that we explore throughout our own lives.

I have personally been on and off sober curious for the past year or so. Like everyone between the ages of 18-25, I have pulled the famous week of sobriety after an intense night, swearing off the drink for the rest of my life. Then the next Friday you will find me happily sinking Guinness after Guinness in the Nags Head after a quick picture in PeckhamPlex – a film for a fiver and a pint for £3.60, how could a girl say no?

However, now, with wellness trends seemingly having a faster turnover than fashion trends, sobriety has become the new ‘thing’. Rather than having to explain why you’re not drinking, Dry January or not, it’s not even talked about. Who knows if my soda and lime also includes vodka, not a big deal if it doesn’t.

I wanted to see first hand how dry January is working for Gen Z – are we doing it for health benefits and overall wellness, or are we doing it as more of a mission for ourselves that we can survive five weekends without going on a bender.

Through conducting a survey, I wanted to find out the effects and takeaways halfway through this sober month. One respondent replied to the question: “What positives have you gained from Dry January so far?”, by saying: “I feel so much better when I don’t drink – my sleep is way better, and I am surprised at how easy it is to have fun when I’m sober.”

Personally, I think the idea of not having fun, the overwhelming idea of FOMO, is what deters a lot of young people from the idea of being sober, even if it does make them feel and sleep better. Chainsmoking is usually a foolproof way for staying alert, as if you’ve had a drink, but this is arguably counterintuitive if you’re sober for the health benefits.

Usually, the hardest thing to conquer, is dancing without a drink in hand, or talking to a mate of a mate you barely know without an alcoholic drink to sip through the painful small talk about the weather and your current work life.

But after January is done, who will continue not drinking? Will we all just fall back into those unhealthy habits of binge drinking, a few too many after a tough day, slowly turning into SuperHans in the Lexington bathrooms?

Many in the survey said they wouldn’t continue sobriety, with a few stating they would drink less. One said drinking less allowed the money for other, more rewarding experiences, such as eating out or visiting friends in other cities. It could be argued, maybe more people would stick to sobriety if mocktails, glorified fruit juice and fizzy drinks, weren’t the exact same price as a good old espresso martini.

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