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London Psychiatrist Gives Tips on How to Keep Going After Dry January

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One in seven (15%) of all UK adults planned to give up drinking alcohol in January according to a survey carried out by Alcohol Change UK, equating to an estimated 7.9 million UK adults.

Almost 3 in 10 drinkers (28%) found themselves drinking more in 2021, compared to 2020, and a quarter (25%) of drinkers saying they wanted to reduce the amount they drink in 2022.

For those feeling as though they may have a wobble, Dr Tony Rao, consultant psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and visiting researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, shares his tips: 

Recommit to your goal  

You probably had one or more reasons why you wanted to do Dry January®, so it’s worth reminding yourself now of what you wanted to achieve by going alcohol-free for 31 days.  

If you wanted to feel fitter: in what way? Did you want to see your resting heart rate reduce, achieve a sporting personal best or something else? If you wanted to improve your sleep: how many hours do you want to get? Can you use an activity tracker to score your sleep through the month? How will you feel when you’re sleeping better or longer? Remind yourself of what was important when committing to Dry January on New Year’s Day and try and recapture some of that can-do attitude. 


If you know there are events coming up or emotional states that would normally have you reaching for a tipple, do your research and planning in advance.  

Thinking through potential drinking situations ahead of time can really help to stop you from saying yes to a drink that you would rather refuse. Planning might include removing left over alcohol from the house (or at least put it out of sight); buying in some alcohol-free alternatives – there’s now so much to choose from; practising what you’ll say if you’re offered a drink. Do your homework: if you’re going out, find out what drinks will be on offer, ask your companions to support your decision, and reward yourself when you overcome a tricky challenge.  

Time for reflection 

It’s a good time for reflection and considering what you’ve learnt along the way – what’s been a challenge, and the benefits you’ve seen as a result of going alcohol-free.  

It’s quite natural for your enthusiasm to start to wane as other priorities start to creep in and your attention is on other things. It’s helpful to set up a routine so that you regularly offer up a little mindfulness to completing the month. Something as simple as using the Try Dry app each day to record your progress each day can keep you on track. Or start a reflective journal; even just a mental check-in each night before bed will increase your chances of success.  

Be accountable  

Use the Try Dry app every day, and watch those daily teacups filling up your calendar. And stay close to the programme: read the daily email every day and browse the amazing stories and comments on our private Facebook group. If for any reason you’re not being supported by friends and family, many people will post on the group to keep themselves accountable and to take motivation from like-minded people. 

Don’t beat yourself up 

If you’re a regular drinker, it’s natural that some parts of the month will have been tough. That’s what makes the experience worth doing. 


Ultimately, cravings are normal, and if you have a slip up don’t think of it as failure. It’s not, it’s a learning experience. Reflect on what happened: who were you with, what happened, how did you feel? Give yourself some grace and don’t let one drink ruin your achievement. Have faith in yourself and keep going.

Ben Smith is a media relations consultant for Definition Agency, which comprises W&PRedhouse, and TopLine Film

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