I am a little sleepy as I write this… I stayed up later than normal watching the college football national championship game between Georgia and Alabama. I cannot understand why this game is played on a Monday night. Pretty much every single college football game, with a few Thursday night exceptions, is played on a Saturday. But, when it comes to the final game of the year, it is on a Monday night. I would much prefer a Friday or Saturday night game!

Anyway, shout out to the Georgia Bulldogs who were able to best Alabama in their seventh recent bid for a national championship. Personally, I didn’t have a “dawg” in this fight (although my husband and our Georgia family certainly did) but was really happy to be able to watch two Southeastern Conference teams battle it out for first place. As the SEC grows larger with its new additions, I think we will begin to see more and more same conference teams vying for the national title. Anyway, college football is not the reason for this week’s column.

Nine years ago in the UK, a new trend started called “Dry January.” You have probably heard about it — it is a movement to stop drinking alcohol for one month, each January. This idea has gained more steam here in the United States over the past couple of years with thousands of people attempting to abstain from the use of any alcoholic beverage for 31 days. If you are one of those abstaining this month, go ahead and pat yourself on the back as you have almost made it to the halfway point. Tomorrow is January 15!

The reasons behind “Dry January” are multi-faceted. Some say it is a reset for them; others say it has huge benefits. Some say they over indulged during the holidays and want a break from it, while still others indicate the month long abstention actually led to a six months long or longer dry period. Hundreds of participants say they chose to never drink again after seeing the results of their month long experiment. 

So, exactly what are the benefits of not utilizing alcohol for a month? My research indicates experts say there are quite a few. They include better sleep, more energy, clearer skin, less anxiety, fewer headaches, weight loss and for some, even a stronger immune system. 

Choosing not to partake is not as easy as it sounds. Proponents of “Dry January” say you must have a plan that includes alternative activities; how you will say no if offered a drink; what beverage options you will choose to replace the alcohol (sparking water?) and a good support system. Participants are also encouraged to avoid places that may trigger their wanting to drink.

A watered down version of “Dry January” has also emerged. It is called “Damp January.” Proponents of this trend indicate rather than abstain totally during this first month of the year, they limit alcohol intake to one or two beverages a week. 

A Vermont beverage company has gotten on board and has released non alcohol versions of customers’ favorite drinks. They are hoping to fill the gap during the period of abstinence.

Re-assessing relationships with alcohol has also contributed to another trend. According to the research revealed by the dating app Bumble, there is also a new phenomenon that is called “dry dating.” Apparently, 34 percent of global daters are now more interested in going on dates that do not involve alcohol. Another 29 percent believe that societal norms around drinking and dates are beginning to shift. 

Those who are participating in “Dry January” may not have an alcohol problem… they are just choosing to dial down their use after many say; they just overindulged during the holidays. If you do feel you have a problem with alcohol, however, you need to check with your doctor before quitting cold turkey. If you are hearing about this a little too late to participate in this new month’s event perhaps you can do “Dry January” in February. 

January is also the month set aside for Stalking Awareness, Firefighters Cancer Awareness, Cervical Health, Glaucoma, National Birth Defects, Blood Donor, and Thyroid Awareness Month just to name a few.

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High school basketball resumes this weekend, weather permitting, with the Cumberland County High School Jets and Lady Jets on the road to Clarkrange tonight, Friday, Jan. 14, and the Stone Memorial Panthers and Lady Panthers hosting Warren County in their home gym. You can hear CCHS district games on 102.5 Wow Country and SMHS district games on the Mix 99.3.

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