Planning on kicking off the new year by cutting back on alcohol? These 8 easy tips can help you reach that goal. Getty Images
  • Beginning the new year with a resolution to abstain from alcohol use for a month is a growing health trend known as Dry January.
  • Many studies have shown that even short-term abstinence from alcohol can improve health.
  • Dry January can be an excellent time to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol and make healthy changes that last beyond the first 30 days of the year.

Dry January — kicking off the new year by cutting out alcohol for an entire month — is a health trend more people are trying each year.

Although relatively novel, Dry January is generally attributed to starting in the UK around 2014 as a way to help individuals stop drinking.

And it’s catching on in the U.S. as well.

“Dry January gives people the opportunity to see what their lives would be like without the alcohol. Often people get into routines and patterns and they just self-perpetuate and you really need to break it and you realize you feel better,” Bruce Goldman, LCSW, director of the Zucker Hillside Hospital Addiction Services in Glen Oaks, New York, told Healthline.

However, making your Dry January a successful one may not be as easy as it seems.

Having a plan in place can not only help you reach your goal more easily, but enjoy the experience along the way as well.

So, if you’re one of the many people who’ll be starting off 2020 with a resolution to drink less, these 8 tips can help make your Dry January a healthy and happy one.

1. Make goals

This one may feel like a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s really important.

Not only should you have realistic expectations for yourself, but you should also get your friends and family involved.

Making goals can also mean writing them down or posting them somewhere as a physical reminder of your intentions.

“It’s also important to publicly declare your goals, to have others — it doesn’t have to be everyone — be aware of what you’re doing. I think the commitment out loud is important. It increases one’s likelihood of following through,” said Goldman.

2. Ask for support

By making your goals public to friends and family you also open up a channel of communication and support from them that’s invaluable.

“We’re social animals. We are primates and social interaction is probably one of the most powerful reinforcers that we have,” said George Koob, PhD, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). “It doesn’t mean you have to go to Alcoholics Anonymous… you can find that kind of social affirmation in many different ways.”

Use the people closest to you as a support network to help keep you on track. You may even encourage them to take on Dry January with you.

3. Avoid triggers

Whether it’s wanting a nice glass of wine on a Friday after work or wishing for a cold beer at a baseball game, many people have particular times, locations, or situations that they associate with drinking.

These are known as triggers. To cut down on drinking, it’s important for everyone to first understand what their triggers are and then avoid them.

But don’t psych yourself out either. Stopping drinking doesn’t mean you can’t ever go to another baseball game or brunch with your friends.

“People feel like ‘Oh, I can never go to a bar again.’ And that’s ridiculous. The idea is that if today you don’t want to have a drink, don’t go to a bar today. You need to think short term and not forever more,” said Goldman.

4. Plan for urges

You’ve made a plan for Dry January, but it may not always be easy to stick to it. Plan for the inevitability of an urge to drink at some point and know which actions you’ll take to overcome it.

“You really need to learn to ride out the urge. I use the analogy of a wave with a peak, but it always breaks. You need to ride out the wave. If you don’t act on it, it will definitely subside,” said Goldman.

There are simple strategies to employ when an urge strikes that can help such as a quick change of scenery. If you’re inside, go outdoors. If you’re with friends, take some alone time.

Small changes in environment can help distract you or take your mind off of drinking long enough to ride out the urge.

5. Find alternatives

“If you’re using alcohol as a coping mechanism or a way of relaxing, maybe try and find some other way of doing that,” said Koob.

At the top of his list: exercise.

Go for a walk, try some relaxing yoga, or join a recreational sports team.

“Exercise is good for everything. If there’s one universal thing that helps everyone it’s exercise,” said Koob.

This is also a great time to reconnect with your other hobbies, interests, and passions. Time (and money) not spent out at bars can instead be used for that ship in a bottle you gave up on, or that thousand piece jigsaw puzzle collecting dust in the closet.

6. Know your ‘no’

Sometimes it’s hard to say no to a drink. Saying no to friends or family is likely the hardest thing you’ll have to do to get through Dry January.

This tip comes straight from the NIAAA’s list of ways to quit drinking, and it means having the conviction to stick to your resolutions.

Turning down a drink can sometimes feel awkward, so Goldman recommends thinking through these potential situations and even rehearsing what you’re going to say.

It can feel weird to be out with friends and ordering a soda or a nonalcoholic beer, but as the evening progresses and everyone is having fun, no one will really care what’s in your cup.

7. Avoid ‘all or nothing’ thinking

So, you’ve made your resolution to stop drinking. You’ve written it down and told your friends. But, two weeks into January you have a beer. Uh oh, you blew it, right?

No. It’s not the end of the world.

“People tend to be perfectionists,” said Goldman. “It’s OK if you drink. It’s not all or nothing. I think that trips a lot of people up. Ninety-nine percent dry January would be good, too. As would an eighty percent dry January.”

In fact, just cutting back is better than nothing at all. The point to remember is that you need to bounce back.

Click here to read the full article.

Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/tips-to-make-your-dry-january-successful#1.-Make-goals via Healthline: Say ‘Cheers!’ to Dry January with These 8 Easy Tips (preventionconversation.org)


Why do Dry January?

Dry January means going alcohol-free for the month of January, and that can bring huge, obvious benefits – but the really good stuff is under the surface…

1. What you’ll notice

See your skin get brighter, your wallet fuller, your days busier. Feel your step get bouncier, your mind calmer, your nights sleepier. Most people who do Dry January see a whole host of obvious benefits that make Dry January the perfect start to the New Year.

2. On the inside

A month alcohol-free has a lot of benefits: research published in 2018, conducted by the Royal Free Hospital and published in the British Medical Journal, found that a month off:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces diabetes risk
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Reduces levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood.


3. Long-term change

The real magic happens when Dry January is over. Dry January helps people to drink more healthily year-round. Research conducted by the University of Sussex has found that six months after Dry January more than 70% of people who take on the month with Alcohol Change UK’s support are still drinking more healthily. On top of that, they have boosted levels of wellbeing, and much more besides.

How can it be that just a month off has a long-term impact? Being alcohol-free for 31 days shows us that we don’t need alcohol to have fun, to relax, or to socialise. It helps us learn the skills we need to manage our drinking. That means that for the rest of the year we are better able to make decisions about when we drink and how much, so we can avoid slipping into drinking more than we really want to.

That’s extra good news, because alcohol is linked with more than 60 health conditions, including liver disease, high blood pressure, depression and seven types of cancer. In fact, alcohol is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability for people aged 15-49 in the UK. Cutting back on alcohol long-term reduces your risk of developing these conditions.

Why do the official Dry January?

People who take on the official Dry January with Alcohol Change UK are twice as likely to have a totally alcohol-free month, and to get amazing long-term benefits. What does it mean to sign up?

  • Download the free Try Dry app. It’s your booze-free buddy for Dry January and beyond, helping you keep track of your units, calories and money saved and letting you earn badges along the way. Plus you can use it to track your drinking and set personalised goals all year round.
  • Sign up for free coaching emails. We’ll offer you daily tips, stories and much more to help you get the most out of your Dry January. You can sign up for these via the app, or sign up for just emails here.

(available to residents outside of the UK)

Download the app for Apple

Download the app for Android

For more information on Dry January, please visit https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january

or visit Dry9 | AGLC (drinksenseab.ca)


December Webinar Update

We’re taking a short break from our CanFASD webinar series for the month of December but will return in the new year. In the meantime, you can re-watch all of our past webinars on our YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe to our channel to get regular updates!

Here are a few other series you may be interested in.

Parenting During a Pandemic

Strong Minds Strong Kids ran a webinar with expert panelists Dr. Amanda Zelechoski and Dr. Lindsay Malloy called Guilt, grief, and grace, oh my: Parenting during a PandemicThis is a great resource for caregivers who are struggling balancing childcare with regular responsibilities during a pandemic.

Perinatal Substance Use

B.C.’s Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health ran a fall webinar series called Learning & Acting Together – Perinatal Substance Use. This four-part series included panel discussions from a number of experts with research, practice, policy, and lived experience.

Learn about:

Indigenous Cultural Safety

PHSA Indigenous Health developed a webinar series about Indigenous Cultural Safety in collaboration with an advisory circle of Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders across Canada.  

This learning series addresses a broad range of issues related to how Indigenous people experience and interact with a number of different systems, such healthcare, justice, education, and child-welfare. They provide a space to address the complex experience of Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination while promoting advocacy and empowerment.

There are 12 webinars to choose from, with presentations from a number of different community leaders across Canada.

Implications of COVID-19 

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) has put together a webinar series about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on substance use and access to healthcare services and supports.

These webinars feature presentations from leaders from across Canada who discuss issues such as harm reduction, domestic violence, adverse childhood experiences, youth, and more. You can watch all of the recordings on their website. 

FASD Learning Series

The Government of Alberta put together a free FASD Learning Series with close to 100 videos available about various topics related to FASD. You can see presentations from a number of experts and community leaders, including some from our very own CanFASD Research Leads. 

This Too Shall Pass

This Too Shall Pass is a heartwarming and honest series that tells short stories about the lives of adults with FASD as they adapt to the new challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The series was filmed and created by the staff and residents at Options for Independence, a supported housing initiative in the Yukon for adults with FASD.  

Happy watching!

Retrieved from: December Webinar Update (canfasdblog.com)


Upcoming FASD Trainings

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) is hosting a free virtual workshop on February 3, 2021 to address the important role of front-line service providers in screening for alcohol use during pregnancy and supporting women throughout pregnancy.

SAVE THE DATE – Registration opens January 4, 2021

*Spaces are limited and will be available on a first come basis.

Register by signing up for an email reminder HERE and be notified once registration opens in January.

This workshop includes expert guest speakers, a lived experience presentation, opportunities for discussion, and an interactive virtual learning experience! Participants will receive a certificate of attendance and a package including evidence-based screening tools. 

Here is the link to the Eventbrite page: VIRTUAL WORKSHOP FOR FRONT-LINE SERVICE PROVIDERS Tickets, Wed, Feb 3, 2021 at 1:15 PM | Eventbrite


The 2021 Symposium is a virtual event. Attendees will be able to participate online (virtually) from home or office from all parts of Canada and the United States.

The Regular rate is $125 CAD and is available until the registration cut-off of January 15, 2021

For more information visit: FASD Symposium Registration Information | ABLE2



Excerpt from https://healthexperiences.ca/perinatal-mental-health/mental-health-and-pregnancy

In this film, you will see and hear women talking about their experiences of mental health problems during and after pregnancy. Researchers from the Canadian Health Experiences Research Group, at St. Mary’s Research Centre and McGill University, interviewed 21 women in Quebec and Ontario. We asked them about, for example, the challenges they encountered, what sorts of supports were helpful, as well as about what could be improved. This film presents key themes that were important to these women with examples from their stories. We hope that by listening to these women, people might reflect on their own experiences as a patient or someone who cares for someone with these problems, including friends, family and healthcare professionals, and help ‘trigger’ ideas about what could be done differently to improve the lived experiences of those with perinatal mental health problems.

Our sincere thanks to all the women who participated in this study.

We welcome feedback from anyone using this film, to know how and where it was viewed, and if it was helpful in some way.

We are grateful to the Royal Bank of Canada Foundation for providing financial support for this study.

This research is part of the Canadian Health Experiences Research Program: https://healthexperiences.ca/




Amy Bell · CBC News · Posted: Nov 21, 2020

Clinical counsellor Kuldip Gil says a lack of routine and structure could be contributing to increased alcohol consumption. (Getty Images/Imagebroker RF)

This story is part of Amy Bell’s Parental Guidance column, which airs on CBC Radio One’s The Early Edition.

From “quarantinis” to zoom cocktails, the pandemic certainly hasn’t been a dry one.

With liquor stores deemed an essential service, and alcohol easily available for delivery, many people have been turning to the bottle — including parents.

According to a study conducted by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction shortly after the pandemic first threw our lives into chaos, seven out of ten Canadians were, obviously, at home more. And of those people, two out of ten reported an increase in their drinking — for different reasons.

Dr. Seonaid Nolan, a clinician researcher with the B.C. Centre on Substance Use, says the reasons for increased consumption differ between men and women. 

“Women were more likely to cite that stress was the predominant reason for an increase in their alcohol consumption compared to men,”  Nolan says. “Men were reporting an increase in their alcohol consumption mainly as a result of boredom.”

Registered clinical counsellor Kuldip Gill has also noticed the trend in her patients.

“People are describing a pattern of drinking more,” Gil says. “The lack of routine, structure that we had to our day, stress … all could be contributing reasons to why we are drinking more. People are developing different coping strategies.” 

Sara Funk also increased her intake significantly in the first weeks of COVID restrictions.

Alcohol was an easy way for her and her husband to escape the stress and worry temporarily each night. But as the weeks have turned to months, both she and her partner are still indulging more than she is always comfortable with, and she worries how that might impact her three teens. 

“They’ll be like ‘Are you drunk mom?’ That actually kind of bothers me where I’ll actually go ‘Oh, maybe they are paying attention?’” Funk says.

Click here for the full article.

Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/people-are-drinking-more-during-the-pandemic-including-parents-1.5810488

and preventionconversation.org



Join international colleagues at the Virtual Solutions for Substance Use Care Conference. Registration is free.

This conference will provide a good overview of the core elements of virtual mental health care given by international colleagues. From online prevention to psychotherapy and from risk assessment and management to virtual clinics. In workshops, you will get the opportunity to learn more about ongoing projects in detail with the opportunity for exchange and networking. The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, The University of British Columbia Addictions and Concurrent Disorders Research Group, and the World Psychiatric Association section for informatics and telemedicine have brought together a significant group of pioneers in this field with the aim of broadening the efforts of mental health and substance use care.

Learn more about the conference and register here: http://bit.ly/VSSUCC

Retrieved from: https://preventionconversation.org/2020/11/19/register-for-the-virtual-solutions-for-substance-use-care-conference-december-9-10/


New Webinar: Pain and FASD

Register now for our webinar, Pain as Experienced by Individuals with FASD. This 60-minute webinar with Dr. Kathryn Birnie, Dr. Kyle Sue, Catherine (CJ) Lutke, and Myles Himmelreich will be held on November 27, 2020, at 1:00pm EST.

Pain as experienced by individuals with FASD is under-researched and frequently misunderstood and under-recognized in the medical community. People with FASD have varying levels of pain tolerance, ranging from high to low. This means that individuals with FASD may not recognize that they have an injury. Additionally, their disability may make them unable to communicate their pain. The stigma surrounding FASD may cause physicians to dismiss their pain as ‘made up’ or view it as a means to an end.

In the webinar, Dr. Kyle Sue will present on pain as experienced by individuals with FASD including topics such as the prevalence of pain and sensory issues, the biological underpinnings of pain, how pain presents in the real world, management of pain, and pain across the lifespan. Following this presentation, CJ Lutke and Myles Himmelreich will discuss how pain influences their lives as individuals with FASD. Dr. Kathryn Birnie will then provide an overview of Solutions for Kids in Pain (SKIP), a national knowledge mobilization network working to improve children’s pain management.

This webinar is geared towards individuals with FASD, caregivers, front-line workers, healthcare professionals, but all are welcome to attend. Be sure to register now!

Retrieved from: https://canfasdblog.com/2020/11/13/new-webinar-pain-and-fasd/



Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addictions, said removing user fees will increase access to addictions treatment for all Albertans. (Audrey Neveu/CBC)

Albertans will no longer have to pay out-of-pocket to receive treatment for addictions.

The provincial government announced Friday morning that the $40-per-day user fee to access publicly-funded residential treatment beds — or, $2,400 for 60 days of therapy — has been eliminated. 

“We are giving all Albertans — regardless of their financial situation — the opportunity to recover and build a better life. Recovery is for everyone,” Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addictions, stated in the news release.

Low-income Albertans already had their costs for treatment covered by the government.

According to the news release, the Residential Addiction Treatment Allowance (RATA), provided through the Alberta Supports program, paid for the treatment of about 2,700 individuals, including about 200 recipients of the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program.

The change, the release said, will make residential addiction treatment available for “students, senior citizens, and people in the workforce who make too much to qualify for Income Support, but not enough to pay privately.”

Click here to read the full article.

Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/government-eliminates-user-fees-for-albertans-seeking-addictions-treatment-1.5792638?_cldee=bGlzYUByb2dvemluc2t5Lm9yZw%3d%3d&recipientid=contact-e551c9199c4ce8118147480fcff4b171-1d39b3e469bf4286bb17ad5373e716ef&esid=a4eaef10-9b22-eb11-a813-000d3af4a4ca