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Need help getting through 'Dry January'? DC area doctor breaks down top tips

Alcohol, beer on tap at the bar{ }on Monday, March 15, 2022. (7News/File)
Alcohol, beer on tap at the bar on Monday, March 15, 2022. (7News/File)
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Five days into 2023 and 7News is here with a resolution check-in. Have you kept yours? For many people, reducing alcohol intake is a top New Year's goal.

While it is not necessarily a yearlong commitment, Dry January can be a sober month after what is often a boozy holiday season.

“It’s all about taking action to reduce or completely abstain from alcohol use,” said Dr. Jason Singh of Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic.

Whether you’re a happy hour drinker, a wine-while-cooking kind of person or you tend to overindulge, Dry January can help your body. According to the National Institutes of Health, alcohol use can cause heart, liver and pancreas issues, and weaken the immune system. Drinking is also linked to depression and anxiety, so beer or wine after work could be doing more harm than good.

Singh says the resolution is doable, even if it isn’t all at once.

SEE ALSO | Is your New Year's resolution about losing weight? Here's one expert's advice

“Some folks may have a hard time with Dry January. I have patients that are having a hard time cold turkey-ing it. So, we have something called ‘Damp January’ which is a modified version where you set your own rules, your own boundaries and find a good middle ground,” Dr. Singh said.

Sticking to an alcohol-free month or modified version often requires a support system. Singh says getting help for reducing those 21-and-over drinks can actually come from your kids and other family members.

“Is there a plan for families so that it’s not just, ‘I’m the adult so I’m the one that has to do this?’” Sanchez asked.

“So, kids tend to model behavior from their parents. Whatever their parents are doing, more than likely will manifest with them as well. A good strategy is to come up with a family fitness program. That’s what a lot of folks tend to lean towards. But also coming up with alternatives to alcohol: juices, teas, coffees, smoothies. I love smoothies, my family loves making smoothies. My kids that are 10, 7 and 5 love making smoothies with me,” he said.

A round of smoothies is a healthy alternative that everyone can participate in. He says while juices are better than alcohol, water tops them all. Dr. Singh suggests becoming “a family of water drinkers.” Filling up cups with water can also instill healthy behaviors for kids.

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Sanchez Family Tip: If you want to feel like you’re celebrating a special occasion and you would usually turn to champagne or wine, break out the non-alcoholic sparkling cider and fancy glasses. My mom did this for us growing up. To this day, while I am older than 21, I’ll opt for this drink, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

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