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After celebrating the holidays, maybe it's time to try 'dry January'


OK, we're now on the third day of dry January, for those who celebrate - or more to the point, those who don't.


The notion is to avoid alcohol for the month right after the excesses of the holidays. Surely, some people violated dry January at one minute after midnight on New Year's. But Richard de Visser insists you're not too late.

RICHARD DE VISSER: Anyone could start any time.

SCHMITZ: He's at England's Brighton and Sussex Medical School. He says no alcohol in January means a month without hangovers, better sleep and money saved.

DE VISSER: People also say that they feel more in control of their drinking. They have more of a sense of saying, well, actually, if I feel a bit tempted to have a drink, I know what I can do instead. I've actually found out another drink I can have instead. Or if I feel like when I'm with certain people it's difficult to refuse a drink, maybe I'll go and socialize in different ways.

INSKEEP: In studying people who practice dry January, de Visser said some people reported results six months later.

DE VISSER: We find that people are actually drinking less. So they're drinking on fewer days per week. And then on the days when they are drinking, they're drinking less.

SCHMITZ: Zack Riesland (ph) says he tried it and will try some more.

ZACK RIESLAND: Kind of started from scratch again and kind of keep it at bay.

INSKEEP: Riesland is a father of four and says, for energy and better sleep, he's made his own rules.

RIESLAND: Sometimes I put different boundaries around it. Like, I'll say, I'm not going to drink at home, you know, for this month. So if I'm out with people, I'll allow it.

SCHMITZ: Some might call this damp January. Chris Swonger calls this try January - that's with a T. He leads, which promotes lifelong responsible alcohol consumption.

CHRIS SWONGER: Try January is really what it's all about. Try a balanced, healthy lifestyle when it comes to beverage alcohol 12 months out of the year.

SCHMITZ: And de Visser, who conducted that study, says any period of abstinence is good.

DE VISSER: So even if people try for one week and don't make it through, they've still done something which is different, which is questioning their own behavior and questioning maybe the way that society thinks about drinking as well.

INSKEEP: Let me pour you some coffee.

(SOUNDBITE OF REZIDENT'S "REFLECTION") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.