After a few weeks of indulgence during the holidays, it’s no surprise that some people are looking for a reason to cut back. That’s where “Dry January” comes in, a month of abstaining from alcohol to either lose weight, cleanse, or just reset for the year.

Anyone looking to participate in Dry January can do so easily, either by simply just not drinking for the entire month or by signing up online or using a motivational app. The trend started in 2011 when one person in the United Kingdom, who was training for a half marathon, said she cut out alcohol to help her training. The next year she did it again and got more people involved, and since it has snowballed into a movement that included five million people in Britain who all took part in the official “Dry January” with the organization Alcohol Concern.

The organization has an app that offers support, tips and tricks for not drinking all month long for those looking to make the change. People can also make the decision to not drink even without the app or signing up with an organization.

Either way, there are a few things that happen when a person cuts alcohol out of their diet.  

Alcohol Concern promotes the trend by saying that giving up alcohol is good for the body, improves sleep, skin, helps with weight loss and helps people save money too. Those who give up alcohol for a month will definitely save some money that they otherwise would have been spending on booze. Additionally, drinking alcohol can lower sleep quality and prevent the rapid eye movement stage of sleep from occurring so cutting it out can lead to a better more restful night’s sleep.

Depending on how much a person drank before they decided to stop for Dry January, weight loss is a possible benefit. Alcohol is full of calories and in some cases sugar as well: an average glass of wine has between 110 and 150 calories in it generally, and beer has up to double that. Cutting that caloric intake, and not replacing it with anything else, could help some people lose weight.

Those who abstain from drinking alcohol for several months to a year might find that their attention, problem-solving and memory all improve. This happens because that amount of time can allow structural brain changes that happen due to alcohol consumption to partially correct, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

One last benefit of abstaining from alcohol is a stronger immune system. Alcohol can suppress the immune system meaning the body can be more susceptible to disease or illness. So not drinking alcohol could potentially increase the efficiency of the immune system.  

glass of wine Millions of people around the world are abstaining from drinking alcohol for "Dry January." Photo: Hades2k/Flickr