Health

For the new year, an easy-to-sip guide that helps you abstain from alcohol for a month — or longer


And now it has a manual. “The Dry Challenge” tells readers how to get through an alcohol-free January (or March, or September, or whenever). It’s a fun look at what readers can gain by setting down the glass — from extra money to health benefits such as better sleep, clearer skin and fewer digestive problems.

Author Hilary Sheinbaum has written an easy-to-sip guide to stopping alcohol for a month. From recipes for nonalcoholic alternatives to tips on how to enlist friends to support the effort, it’s a lighthearted look at a serious undertaking.

For many, the stakes feel higher as 2020 comes to an end. As the pandemic dawned, alcohol sales skyrocketed. This October, a nationally representative panel of American adults said they were drinking alcohol 14 percent more often, and the number of people drinking heavily also rose.

Although the book contains some decidedly pre-coronavirus guidance — think advice on parties and bars — it’s at its strongest when talking about the inside game of abstinence.

“Not everything (social or solo) has to involve booze — and some moments, to be honest, shouldn’t,” Sheinbaum writes. She suggests putting your alcohol out of sight to limit triggers, keeping a journal that documents your accomplishments and taking advantage of social media to find like-minded supports.

“Even a simple action like texting a photo of seltzer water to a friend or to the group chat can act as a subtle reminder that it’s important to stick it out,” she says.

“The Dry Challenge” isn’t a substitute for medical intervention for those with severe alcohol problems. But if you’re looking to detangle your relationship with booze, an alcohol-free new year may be just the ticket.


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