There are about five possible New Year’s Resolutions at this point, and they’re all boring. Participating in Dry January, the month-long commitment to abstain from drinking alcohol that the government officially piggybacked on in 2014 and has since made its way overseas, is one of the classics. It’s bland, health-oriented, attainable, and you get to tell people you’re doing it, which projects discipline and competence. Perfect!
But a recent YouGov survey suggests interest in month-long stretches of sobriety are waning. In December, only 14 percent of the 22,760 respondents said they’d be participating in Dry January 2020, versus last year’s poll, when 23 percent of respondents said they were going to attempt it. Does that mean booze-fueled debauchery is on the rise instead? The opposite, actually: 33 percent of respondents said they “don’t ever” drink alcohol, versus 24 percent in late 2018, a 38 percent increase in people choosing lifestyle sobriety.
That new increase in year-round sobriety tracks. 2019 was the year sober bars and nightlife spaces evolved into places that are actually fun to socialise in (which still means “spend £9 per drink in while standing around with other adults,” for better or worse). And, although it might be a little premature, the rise of legal cannabis, and with it more ways to enjoy weed in a social context, may have something to do with the collective turn away from alcohol, too. Even beer companies are preparing for full-fledged sobriety. According to trade publication The Drinks Business, BrewDog are both offering special Dry January deals on non-alcoholic or low-ABV beers, which have been steadily gaining a larger segment of the total beer market, even as sales of traditional beers decline.
So Dry January's one-off decline this year doesn’t mean that booze has us all by the balls and sobriety is futile. That’s great news, especially because while Dry January’s actual health benefits have always been a little dubious, sobriety’s positive impacts on mental and physical health is scientifically backed and wide-ranging. But, given the fact that we’re all ruminating on our habits and intentions, now could definitely be a good time to give an alcohol-free lifestyle a whirl. Look, it's January: there's not that much fun to be had otherwise anyway.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.