What is the longest amount of time you have ever intentionally gone without drinking alcohol? For many people that participate in sober months, the answer is around 30 days.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people go alcohol-free for one month when they participate in a sober month challenge. One popular sober month is known as Dry July. During the month, people who participate commit to putting down their glass of wine in order to raise money for charity.
What Is Dry July?
Dry July is a type of sober month that takes place in the summertime. The goal of the sober challenge is for participants to go the entire month of July alcohol-free. In order to complete the Dry July challenge, people need to abstain from alcohol for 31 days.
Many people participate in Dry July to get a better understanding of their relationship to alcohol. Others do it to give themselves a break from drinking during the summer months that are often filled with parties and social gatherings. And, some people just want to try out the challenge to see if they can go all of July alcohol-free.
Dry July History
Dry July was started by three Australian friends in 2008. The group decided that they wanted to take a break from alcohol during the month of July. Together, they created the catchy rhyme 'Dry July' and participated in the first-ever event.
The friends used their alcohol-free month to fundraise money to help a local hospital afford a TV for their waiting room. They had a goal to raise $3,000, but they ended up fundraising over $250,000. After this success, the Dry July Foundation was officially started.
Since then, Dry July has encouraged nearly 300,000 people in Australia alone to give up alcohol during the summer month. So far they have raised over $73 million dollars. Now, the foundation has set new goals for fundraising. They provide specialized nursing care, wellness programs, transportation services, and more to help support people living with cancer. And it all started with just three friends.
Dry July Rules
The rules to participate in a Dry July are fairly simple. You can either formally sign up to participate on the Dry July Foundation's website. Or, you can take a pledge on your own to give up drinking alcohol for the month of July.
Then, the next step is to stick to your pledge and refrain from drinking throughout the month. Many people also commit to raising funds for charity at this time by having friends, family, and supportive members of the community donate to their campaign and give them a little extra encouragement to stay sober. However, you don't have to fundraise to participate.
Also, you don't have to wait until a sober month like Dry July, Dry January or Sober September rolls around to go booze-free. You don't even have to start on the first of the month. For example, if you have a work party on October third that you think you will be drinking at, you can still go without alcohol for the rest of Sober October. Just start on the third and go until the third of the next month. Think about your schedule and find what works for you.
Who Participates in Dry July?
Anyone of the legal drinking age can sign up to participate in Dry July. However, you don't have to formally sign up to participate. You can make your own pledge to go alcohol-free for the month. And, maybe even get your friends, family, or office involved.
People who have developed an alcohol dependency should not participate in Dry July. Stopping alcohol consumption abruptly can lead to negative health consequences, such as episodes of vomiting and other side effects of withdrawal.
Dry July may be a good fit for participants that engage in low-risk drinking. Low-risk drinking is defined as having no more than one drink a day or seven per week for women, and no more than two drinks per day or 14 per week for men. If you have any questions concerning participating in Dry July or about your drinking levels, contact your healthcare professional and discuss options before signing up to participate.
Benefits of a Dry July
According to the organization's website, there are numerous benefits associated with abstaining from alcohol for one month. Some of these benefits include:
- A clearer head
- Better sleep
- Healthier skin
- Increased energy
- Potential weight loss
In addition, you may also find that you feel a sense of accomplishment after completing Dry July and sticking with your pledge. Also, it can be a big plus to not experience any hangovers for a while.
Dry July Tips
Are you worried about keeping your Dry July commitment? It can be daunting to break a habit, especially one that you might use to unwind at the end of the day or participate in at social gatherings with friends. There are several things you can do to help you keep your commitment for the month. They might not make your sober month easy, but they can certainly make it easier.
Go Dry With Friends and Family
One way to help yourself keep your sober pledge for the month is to take on the challenge with loved ones. You can lean on one another for social support as the month progresses, and it can be encouraging to know that you're not going sober alone. Also, you may find that you're less tempted to drink alcohol when others around you aren't drinking it either. Your sober group can plan fun, booze-free activities for the weekend, like hosting a movie night or going bowling.
Mentally Prepare for Social Gatherings
You don't have to avoid social gatherings with family and friends during your sober month. However, you might find it helpful to mentally prepare yourself beforehand as they can present some challenges.
For example, you might find yourself in an environment where other people are drinking alcohol and constantly asking you if you would like some. For this reason, it might be helpful to have some responses ready when you turn down offers. You can practice these out loud at home before you arrive, or just brainstorm what you want to say. Some phrases you might find helpful are:
- I heard about sober months and wanted to give it a try.
- I was curious about sobriety and wanted to see how I felt going alcohol-free for a bit.
- I'm giving up alcohol for a bit to see if I notice any changes in my health.
- I'm trying to raise money for charity by going sober and would love your support.
- My friends and I took a sobriety pledge together so I'm not drinking tonight.
Volunteer as the Sober Driver
One way to help yourself stay sober during get-togethers is to offer to be the sober driver for the night. It will give you a strong excuse to turn down drink offers, which can be particularly helpful in avoiding temptation. In addition, it might make you feel good to help out your loved ones and make sure that they get home safely.
Make Yourself a Mocktail
You can make the switch to mocktails and enjoy alcohol-free versions of your favorite drinks. In fact, there are numerous mocktail recipe books out there, such as Good Drinks, to get you started with some ideas. And, you can even enjoy booze-free versions of your favorite wine, spirits, and more through SeedLip.
Bring Something for You to Drink
If you are invited to a movie night, pool party, or barbecue during your Dry July, remember to bring something alcohol-free for you to drink. For example, you can pack your favorite juice, sparkling cider, or iced tea. This way you can guarantee that you have something to drink at the party that you'll actually enjoy and that is also booze-free.
There are also brands of water, that are designed with skulls and awesome graphics to resemble cans of beer and seltzer. These can help you feel like you're more a part of the party, and can also deter others from offering you alcoholic beverages if they see that you've already got a drink.
Change Relaxation Habits
Do you drink alcohol to de-stress and relax at the end of the day? Many people do, which is one reason why a sober month can seem daunting. The good thing is that there are many ways to relax and unwind that don't involve alcohol. And, you might find that you can swap the habit of reaching for a glass of wine at the end of the day with something else that you enjoy.
For example, instead of drinking, you can treat yourself with a bubble bath or face mask, watch an episode of your favorite TV show, or take a stroll around the neighborhood. When you swap one habit with another one that you enjoy, it can help feel like you're gaining a new relaxing activity, instead of losing one.
Track Your Progress
Another way to keep you motivated during your sober month is to track your progress. Make a count-down chain and hang it in your house, cross off days on your calendar as you get closer to keeping your pledge, or start a countdown on your phone. If you are using your sober month to fundraise money for charity, you can keep track of what you've raised, as well.
Are you curious about how much money you are saving during your sober month? You can use the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's alcohol spending calculator to measure your savings.
Try Your Best
Doing a sober month in July when there's a holiday and numerous barbeques is no easy task. All you can do is try your best to keep your pledge. If you have a drink or two during the month, it's okay. Some sober challenges, like Hello Sunday Morning, ask participants to restart their sober months to day one if they drink alcohol. However, there are different levels of commitment spending on the individual and on the challenge. Find what works for you and your schedule. Being more mindful about alcohol is a big accomplishment in and of itself.
Staying sober for an entire month may feel particularly challenging. Or, maybe you'll notice that you don't find it as difficult as you thought you would. Either way, you can learn something new about yourself and it might even bring you closer to loved ones if you take the pledge together. Are you ready to go dry in July?