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Tips for a Successful Dry January (and Beyond)

Tips for a Successful Dry January (and Beyond)

Tips for a Successful Dry January (and Beyond)

Tips for a Successful Dry January (and Beyond)

A journey of mocktails, mindfulness, and self-discovery this new year

A journey of mocktails, mindfulness, and self-discovery this new year

A journey of mocktails, mindfulness, and self-discovery this new year

A journey of mocktails, mindfulness, and self-discovery this new year

January 25, 2024
January 25, 2024
January 25, 2024
January 25, 2024
Sam O'Keefe
Co-founder & CEO of Flex
Sam O'Keefe
Co-founder & CEO of Flex
Sam O'Keefe
Co-founder & CEO of Flex
Sam O'Keefe
Co-founder & CEO of Flex
Flex - Tips for a Successful Dry January
Flex - Tips for a Successful Dry January
Flex - Tips for a Successful Dry January

Overview

As the last echoes of the New Year's fireworks fade away and the confetti settles, many of us find ourselves at a crossroads of resolutions. Some vow to master yoga poses they can't pronounce, others pledge allegiance to gyms and kale smoothies, while others still swear to cut back… on just about anything. 

One of the more common, and contemporary, goals is to quit the clink. Enter Dry January — a toast to good health and a much-needed holiday for your liver. It’s on trend too: About 1 in 5 drinking-age U.S. adults vowed to reduce their alcohol consumption this January, according to a Morning Consult poll

While the New Year is a convenient time to freshen up old habits, you don’t need to wait until the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31 to make a resolution — any time of the year works! Ready to raise one to a lower BAC? The health benefits and savings are worthy of a toast.



What We’ll Cover: From Tips for a Successful Dry January to the Benefits of Giving up Alcohol

Join us for a month of mocktails and learn how to navigate Dry January this year. Here is what we’ll cover:

  • What is Dry January

  • What is considered drinking in moderation

  • What are the short and long-term risks of drinking

  • What are the benefits of giving up alcohol

  • Tips for quitting or reducing your drinking for Dry January

  • How Reframe can help you reduce or quit drinking

  • How Flex can help

  • What is excessive drinking

  • How HSA/FSA can assist you in overcoming alcohol dependency

What is Dry and Damp January?

Dry January is a growing global movement that challenges you to kickstart the year on a healthy note by consuming no alcohol for 31 days. That’s right. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

Damp January, on the other hand, is about reducing your drinking for the month. Cutting back is a great way to mindfully explore your relationship with alcohol without the heavy handedness of going cold Wild Turkey.

However you want to approach this, it's an opportunity to reassess what alcohol means to you, break habits, and experience the positive changes that come with a month of sobriety.

What Is Considered Drinking in Moderation?

First things first, let’s set a baseline for where most casual drinks are coming from.

Drinking in moderation typically refers to consuming alcohol in a way that does not pose a risk to your health. According to the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025,” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is recommended to limit intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women. 

What is considered a standard drink in the US?

In the United States, a standard drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. This roughly translates to 12 ounces of beer (with an ABV of 5%), 5 ounces of wine (typically about 12%), or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (40%).

Still, even limited alcohol consumption can have some risks. 



What Are the Short and Long-Term Risks of Drinking?

If life were a game of Russian roulette, excessive alcohol consumption would be like loading a few extra bullets.

Sure, the occasional hangover might seem like a small price to pay for a fun night out, but boy do they seem to get worse as you get older! More than that, alcohol impairs motor coordination and decision-making, which can increase your chances of accidental injury (to yourself or others) or lead to undesirable behavior.

Longer-term, sustained drinking can have detrimental effects on your vital organs. The liver beers the brunt of the damage (see what we did there?), which can lead to one of more than 100 liver diseases, cirrhosis, and even organ failure. Spirits do more than haunt in the night, they can be bad on your heart too — long-term consumption may contribute to deadly heart conditions such as increased and irregular heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and ultimately can lead to alcoholic cardiomyopathy (a weakening of the heart function).

Regular drinking is also linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including breast, liver, and esophageal. These risks reinforce the importance of moderation or, in the case of Dry January, complete abstinence. 

For more information about the long-term effects of drinking, here are some popular articles and podcasts. It’s always good to weigh the risks and do your research so you can make an educated decision.

What Are the Benefits of Giving up Alcohol?

The benefits of giving up alcohol are multifaceted. Expect better sleep, clearer thoughts, and a complexion that rivals a Photoshopped Instagram filter. It’s almost like hitting the reset button on your well-being. 

Here are some commonly asked questions about the perks of personal prohibition:

Does sleep improve without alcohol?

Quitting drinking is likely to improve your sleep. While you might experience drowsiness from alcohol and others might use it to help them go to bed, drinking actually reduces the quality of sleep and disrupts your natural circadian rhythm. From increased awakenings in the night, as a result of frequent urination or altered breathing (it can exacerbate sleep apnea), to suppressing Rapid Eye Movement (REM), playing with alcohol means a worse sleep score.

Will quitting alcohol lower cholesterol?

Yes, it can. Alcohol raises your levels of triglycerides, may increase LDL (“bad” cholesterol) which leads to atherosclerosis, can lead to weight gain (especially around the belly which is associated with higher LDL and lower HDL) and strains the liver (which helps regulates cholesterol). 

Some research has suggested drinking moderate levels of red wine can increase HDL (the “good” cholesterol) which may reduce the risk of heart disease. However, the risks of alcohol usage tend to outway this potential advantage. 

Will I lose weight if I stop drinking alcohol?

It’s very possible! There is a reason why one of the first recommendations when dieting is to stop drinking your calories — beverages are highly consumable extra calories that don’t tend to make you feel satiated (whether it’s soda, orange juice, or beer). Not to mention, these drinks are typically nutrient deficient. 

Along those lines, alcohol is calorically dense (a typical mid-strength lager, around 4.5% ABV, contains around 200 calories) so cutting it out is easy math, and can lead to weight loss. Plus, without those 3 am alcohol-induced cravings, maintaining a healthy diet becomes much more manageable.

Will quitting alcohol help me save money?

Absolutely, even more than you might expect. According to a Gallup poll from July 2023, 12% of respondents had over eight drinks in the last week, while 55% had between one and seven. Say that is equivalent to a bottle of wine or a 6-pack, and they go for $12 a pop. Over the course of a year (52 weeks), that’s $624 spent on alcohol consumption.

This doesn’t factor in the costs of long-term complications from liver damage or cirrhosis, missed days at work or reduced productivity, and on and on. It’s clear that the financial savings from abstaining from alcohol adds up, and that money could be redirected toward other self-improvement activities or savings goals.

Tips for Dry January: Quitting or Reducing Your Drinking

Attempting a Dry January (or February, or anytime, really) is a commendable, but often challenging goal. Let us be your designated driver on your road toward sobriety, with some tips in tow.

Pro tip: Don't keep alcohol in the house

Out of sight, out of mind — eliminate temptations by removing any alcohol from your home. This simple step can significantly reduce the likelihood of a sip.

Find a substitute non-alcoholic drink

Whether it’s tea, sparkling water, or a mocktail that makes you feel like James Bond, experiment with various non-alcoholic beverages to find a satisfying alternative to sip on in social settings.

How to stop alcohol cravings

When cravings arise, distract yourself with activities such as sports, exercise, painting, meditation, or anything else that engages the mind. 

If necessary, reach out to a support system, whether it's friends, family, or an organized support group, to share your feelings and seek encouragement. 

Mindfulness techniques, like deep breathing or meditation, are also worth considering, as they help manage stress and cravings more effectively.



How Reframe Can Help You Reduce or Quit Drinking

Like everything else these days, quitting alcohol can be made much easier with the right software. In our case, we recommend Reframe, a popular app and evidence-based behavior change program in one.

Developed in collaboration with medical and mental health experts, their neuroscience-centric approach can help you reduce or completely quit drinking. In fact, 91% of Reframe users noted a substantial decrease in alcohol use within 3 months.

The app also includes a guide on mindful drinking, which means strategically enjoying alcohol with minimal effect on your health, in-depth courses, a personalized drink tracker, and a space where you can talk to and celebrate milestones with other anonymous participants.

As is the case with Sunnyside, Try Dry, and similar apps, your HSA/FSA can help pay for Reframe. Enjoy an affordable path to a more sober future.

How Flex Can Help You Along Your Sobriety Journey

If you’re looking for services or tools like we’ve described, Flex makes the process of using HSA/FSA to cover your medical expenses simple. Here’s how it works for Reframe:

If the item falls outside of standard IRS guidelines: Flex will check your eligibility for a Letter of Medical Necessity. When you go to checkout, a doctor’s appointment takes place: 

  • Fill out a short eligibility form, sharing relevant information with Flex’s medical team. 

  • If you qualify, Flex sends the LOMN to you via email.

  • Then, simply enter your HSA or FSA card details and complete the purchase. Again, no more need for reimbursements!

Apply These Tips for a Successful Dry January — And Beyond!

Even a single month without alcohol can lead to reduced anxiety, improved mood, increased energy levels, enhanced self-esteem, and many more benefits.

Dry January is not just a fad; it's a chance to take back the reins of your health, rewrite the script, and redefine what it means to have a good time. 

However, while most people drink in moderation, some have developed deeper challenges, such as having difficulty controlling how much they consume or using alcohol in a way that puts themselves or others at risk. If you think this might describe you, or someone you care about, we’ve shared signs of potential alcohol problems and advice for getting help below.

Maybe You Drink a Bit More Than What We’ve Been Talking About (Or Are Unsure)… What Is Excessive Drinking?

Excessive or heavy drinking is often characterized as regularly consuming more than the recommended limits. This generally means crossing the abovementioned recommendation of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Drinking of this nature is linked to a variety of health risks, such as motor vehicle crashes, violence, sexual risk behaviors, high blood pressure, and cancer (as noted above).

In fact, in the U.S., excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 140,000 deaths each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and was responsible for $249 billion in economic costs in 2010, from a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

What are the signs of potential alcohol problems?

Recognizing potential symptoms early on is crucial. Signs include:

  • Withdrawal symptoms:

    • Experiencing physical or psychological symptoms when not drinking, such as tremors, anxiety, nausea, or irritability.

  • Loss of control:

    • Inability to limit the amount of alcohol consumed or failing attempts to cut down.

  • Neglecting responsibilities:

    • Failing to meet obligations at work, school, or home due to alcohol use.

  • Social isolation:

    • Separating from friends and family or avoiding social activities that don't involve alcohol.

  • Change in priorities:

    • Shifting priorities in favor of alcohol use, neglecting hobbies or activities.

Denial:

  • Minimizing or denying the extent of the alcohol-related problems.

What is alcohol use disorder (AUD)?

Alcohol use disorder covers a range of unhealthy alcohol use patterns that can be mild, moderate or severe. This is based on the number of symptoms one experiences, some of which are listed above, and it occurs more frequently for people in their 20s and 30s. 

Alcohol abuse is generally defined as habitually consuming more alcohol than is recommended leading to unhealthy behaviors. It involves harmful or hazardous use that leads to physical or mental health problems. Typically, it’s a pattern of drinking that affects one's ability to function in daily life.

Alcoholism is a severe category of AUD, and is a chronic disease characterized by an inability to control or stop drinking despite the negative consequences. It is a pattern of excessive alcohol consumption that interferes with physical health, mental well-being, and social functioning. 

Professional treatment and support are often necessary for recovery.



How HSA/FSA Can Assist You in Overcoming Alcohol Dependency

If you’re facing severe challenges on your journey to quit drinking, your Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) can help. 

A wide range of services related to alcohol dependence treatment are eligible for reimbursement with your HSA and FSA. Here are some examples:

  • Behavioral therapies: Behavioral therapies, including sessions with an alcohol abuse therapist, drug and alcohol counseling, and even online alcohol counseling, may be covered.

  • Residential treatment: For those requiring more intensive care, HSAs and FSAs can contribute to the costs of residential alcohol or substance abuse treatment programs. 

  • Medication for alcoholism: Medications prescribed for alcoholism, which may aid in the recovery process, are eligible for HSA/FSA reimbursement.

  • Support groups: Groups such as those affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), can be financially supported through these accounts.

  • Detox and withdrawal: You can use your HSA/FSA for expenses related to detoxification and withdrawal management, other vital components of the recovery journey.

 Know that you’re not alone and there are many ways to get help.

Overview

As the last echoes of the New Year's fireworks fade away and the confetti settles, many of us find ourselves at a crossroads of resolutions. Some vow to master yoga poses they can't pronounce, others pledge allegiance to gyms and kale smoothies, while others still swear to cut back… on just about anything. 

One of the more common, and contemporary, goals is to quit the clink. Enter Dry January — a toast to good health and a much-needed holiday for your liver. It’s on trend too: About 1 in 5 drinking-age U.S. adults vowed to reduce their alcohol consumption this January, according to a Morning Consult poll

While the New Year is a convenient time to freshen up old habits, you don’t need to wait until the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31 to make a resolution — any time of the year works! Ready to raise one to a lower BAC? The health benefits and savings are worthy of a toast.



What We’ll Cover: From Tips for a Successful Dry January to the Benefits of Giving up Alcohol

Join us for a month of mocktails and learn how to navigate Dry January this year. Here is what we’ll cover:

  • What is Dry January

  • What is considered drinking in moderation

  • What are the short and long-term risks of drinking

  • What are the benefits of giving up alcohol

  • Tips for quitting or reducing your drinking for Dry January

  • How Reframe can help you reduce or quit drinking

  • How Flex can help

  • What is excessive drinking

  • How HSA/FSA can assist you in overcoming alcohol dependency

What is Dry and Damp January?

Dry January is a growing global movement that challenges you to kickstart the year on a healthy note by consuming no alcohol for 31 days. That’s right. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

Damp January, on the other hand, is about reducing your drinking for the month. Cutting back is a great way to mindfully explore your relationship with alcohol without the heavy handedness of going cold Wild Turkey.

However you want to approach this, it's an opportunity to reassess what alcohol means to you, break habits, and experience the positive changes that come with a month of sobriety.

What Is Considered Drinking in Moderation?

First things first, let’s set a baseline for where most casual drinks are coming from.

Drinking in moderation typically refers to consuming alcohol in a way that does not pose a risk to your health. According to the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025,” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is recommended to limit intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women. 

What is considered a standard drink in the US?

In the United States, a standard drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. This roughly translates to 12 ounces of beer (with an ABV of 5%), 5 ounces of wine (typically about 12%), or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (40%).

Still, even limited alcohol consumption can have some risks. 



What Are the Short and Long-Term Risks of Drinking?

If life were a game of Russian roulette, excessive alcohol consumption would be like loading a few extra bullets.

Sure, the occasional hangover might seem like a small price to pay for a fun night out, but boy do they seem to get worse as you get older! More than that, alcohol impairs motor coordination and decision-making, which can increase your chances of accidental injury (to yourself or others) or lead to undesirable behavior.

Longer-term, sustained drinking can have detrimental effects on your vital organs. The liver beers the brunt of the damage (see what we did there?), which can lead to one of more than 100 liver diseases, cirrhosis, and even organ failure. Spirits do more than haunt in the night, they can be bad on your heart too — long-term consumption may contribute to deadly heart conditions such as increased and irregular heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and ultimately can lead to alcoholic cardiomyopathy (a weakening of the heart function).

Regular drinking is also linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including breast, liver, and esophageal. These risks reinforce the importance of moderation or, in the case of Dry January, complete abstinence. 

For more information about the long-term effects of drinking, here are some popular articles and podcasts. It’s always good to weigh the risks and do your research so you can make an educated decision.

What Are the Benefits of Giving up Alcohol?

The benefits of giving up alcohol are multifaceted. Expect better sleep, clearer thoughts, and a complexion that rivals a Photoshopped Instagram filter. It’s almost like hitting the reset button on your well-being. 

Here are some commonly asked questions about the perks of personal prohibition:

Does sleep improve without alcohol?

Quitting drinking is likely to improve your sleep. While you might experience drowsiness from alcohol and others might use it to help them go to bed, drinking actually reduces the quality of sleep and disrupts your natural circadian rhythm. From increased awakenings in the night, as a result of frequent urination or altered breathing (it can exacerbate sleep apnea), to suppressing Rapid Eye Movement (REM), playing with alcohol means a worse sleep score.

Will quitting alcohol lower cholesterol?

Yes, it can. Alcohol raises your levels of triglycerides, may increase LDL (“bad” cholesterol) which leads to atherosclerosis, can lead to weight gain (especially around the belly which is associated with higher LDL and lower HDL) and strains the liver (which helps regulates cholesterol). 

Some research has suggested drinking moderate levels of red wine can increase HDL (the “good” cholesterol) which may reduce the risk of heart disease. However, the risks of alcohol usage tend to outway this potential advantage. 

Will I lose weight if I stop drinking alcohol?

It’s very possible! There is a reason why one of the first recommendations when dieting is to stop drinking your calories — beverages are highly consumable extra calories that don’t tend to make you feel satiated (whether it’s soda, orange juice, or beer). Not to mention, these drinks are typically nutrient deficient. 

Along those lines, alcohol is calorically dense (a typical mid-strength lager, around 4.5% ABV, contains around 200 calories) so cutting it out is easy math, and can lead to weight loss. Plus, without those 3 am alcohol-induced cravings, maintaining a healthy diet becomes much more manageable.

Will quitting alcohol help me save money?

Absolutely, even more than you might expect. According to a Gallup poll from July 2023, 12% of respondents had over eight drinks in the last week, while 55% had between one and seven. Say that is equivalent to a bottle of wine or a 6-pack, and they go for $12 a pop. Over the course of a year (52 weeks), that’s $624 spent on alcohol consumption.

This doesn’t factor in the costs of long-term complications from liver damage or cirrhosis, missed days at work or reduced productivity, and on and on. It’s clear that the financial savings from abstaining from alcohol adds up, and that money could be redirected toward other self-improvement activities or savings goals.

Tips for Dry January: Quitting or Reducing Your Drinking

Attempting a Dry January (or February, or anytime, really) is a commendable, but often challenging goal. Let us be your designated driver on your road toward sobriety, with some tips in tow.

Pro tip: Don't keep alcohol in the house

Out of sight, out of mind — eliminate temptations by removing any alcohol from your home. This simple step can significantly reduce the likelihood of a sip.

Find a substitute non-alcoholic drink

Whether it’s tea, sparkling water, or a mocktail that makes you feel like James Bond, experiment with various non-alcoholic beverages to find a satisfying alternative to sip on in social settings.

How to stop alcohol cravings

When cravings arise, distract yourself with activities such as sports, exercise, painting, meditation, or anything else that engages the mind. 

If necessary, reach out to a support system, whether it's friends, family, or an organized support group, to share your feelings and seek encouragement. 

Mindfulness techniques, like deep breathing or meditation, are also worth considering, as they help manage stress and cravings more effectively.



How Reframe Can Help You Reduce or Quit Drinking

Like everything else these days, quitting alcohol can be made much easier with the right software. In our case, we recommend Reframe, a popular app and evidence-based behavior change program in one.

Developed in collaboration with medical and mental health experts, their neuroscience-centric approach can help you reduce or completely quit drinking. In fact, 91% of Reframe users noted a substantial decrease in alcohol use within 3 months.

The app also includes a guide on mindful drinking, which means strategically enjoying alcohol with minimal effect on your health, in-depth courses, a personalized drink tracker, and a space where you can talk to and celebrate milestones with other anonymous participants.

As is the case with Sunnyside, Try Dry, and similar apps, your HSA/FSA can help pay for Reframe. Enjoy an affordable path to a more sober future.

How Flex Can Help You Along Your Sobriety Journey

If you’re looking for services or tools like we’ve described, Flex makes the process of using HSA/FSA to cover your medical expenses simple. Here’s how it works for Reframe:

If the item falls outside of standard IRS guidelines: Flex will check your eligibility for a Letter of Medical Necessity. When you go to checkout, a doctor’s appointment takes place: 

  • Fill out a short eligibility form, sharing relevant information with Flex’s medical team. 

  • If you qualify, Flex sends the LOMN to you via email.

  • Then, simply enter your HSA or FSA card details and complete the purchase. Again, no more need for reimbursements!

Apply These Tips for a Successful Dry January — And Beyond!

Even a single month without alcohol can lead to reduced anxiety, improved mood, increased energy levels, enhanced self-esteem, and many more benefits.

Dry January is not just a fad; it's a chance to take back the reins of your health, rewrite the script, and redefine what it means to have a good time. 

However, while most people drink in moderation, some have developed deeper challenges, such as having difficulty controlling how much they consume or using alcohol in a way that puts themselves or others at risk. If you think this might describe you, or someone you care about, we’ve shared signs of potential alcohol problems and advice for getting help below.

Maybe You Drink a Bit More Than What We’ve Been Talking About (Or Are Unsure)… What Is Excessive Drinking?

Excessive or heavy drinking is often characterized as regularly consuming more than the recommended limits. This generally means crossing the abovementioned recommendation of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Drinking of this nature is linked to a variety of health risks, such as motor vehicle crashes, violence, sexual risk behaviors, high blood pressure, and cancer (as noted above).

In fact, in the U.S., excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 140,000 deaths each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and was responsible for $249 billion in economic costs in 2010, from a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

What are the signs of potential alcohol problems?

Recognizing potential symptoms early on is crucial. Signs include:

  • Withdrawal symptoms:

    • Experiencing physical or psychological symptoms when not drinking, such as tremors, anxiety, nausea, or irritability.

  • Loss of control:

    • Inability to limit the amount of alcohol consumed or failing attempts to cut down.

  • Neglecting responsibilities:

    • Failing to meet obligations at work, school, or home due to alcohol use.

  • Social isolation:

    • Separating from friends and family or avoiding social activities that don't involve alcohol.

  • Change in priorities:

    • Shifting priorities in favor of alcohol use, neglecting hobbies or activities.

Denial:

  • Minimizing or denying the extent of the alcohol-related problems.

What is alcohol use disorder (AUD)?

Alcohol use disorder covers a range of unhealthy alcohol use patterns that can be mild, moderate or severe. This is based on the number of symptoms one experiences, some of which are listed above, and it occurs more frequently for people in their 20s and 30s. 

Alcohol abuse is generally defined as habitually consuming more alcohol than is recommended leading to unhealthy behaviors. It involves harmful or hazardous use that leads to physical or mental health problems. Typically, it’s a pattern of drinking that affects one's ability to function in daily life.

Alcoholism is a severe category of AUD, and is a chronic disease characterized by an inability to control or stop drinking despite the negative consequences. It is a pattern of excessive alcohol consumption that interferes with physical health, mental well-being, and social functioning. 

Professional treatment and support are often necessary for recovery.



How HSA/FSA Can Assist You in Overcoming Alcohol Dependency

If you’re facing severe challenges on your journey to quit drinking, your Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) can help. 

A wide range of services related to alcohol dependence treatment are eligible for reimbursement with your HSA and FSA. Here are some examples:

  • Behavioral therapies: Behavioral therapies, including sessions with an alcohol abuse therapist, drug and alcohol counseling, and even online alcohol counseling, may be covered.

  • Residential treatment: For those requiring more intensive care, HSAs and FSAs can contribute to the costs of residential alcohol or substance abuse treatment programs. 

  • Medication for alcoholism: Medications prescribed for alcoholism, which may aid in the recovery process, are eligible for HSA/FSA reimbursement.

  • Support groups: Groups such as those affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), can be financially supported through these accounts.

  • Detox and withdrawal: You can use your HSA/FSA for expenses related to detoxification and withdrawal management, other vital components of the recovery journey.

 Know that you’re not alone and there are many ways to get help.

Overview

As the last echoes of the New Year's fireworks fade away and the confetti settles, many of us find ourselves at a crossroads of resolutions. Some vow to master yoga poses they can't pronounce, others pledge allegiance to gyms and kale smoothies, while others still swear to cut back… on just about anything. 

One of the more common, and contemporary, goals is to quit the clink. Enter Dry January — a toast to good health and a much-needed holiday for your liver. It’s on trend too: About 1 in 5 drinking-age U.S. adults vowed to reduce their alcohol consumption this January, according to a Morning Consult poll

While the New Year is a convenient time to freshen up old habits, you don’t need to wait until the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31 to make a resolution — any time of the year works! Ready to raise one to a lower BAC? The health benefits and savings are worthy of a toast.



What We’ll Cover: From Tips for a Successful Dry January to the Benefits of Giving up Alcohol

Join us for a month of mocktails and learn how to navigate Dry January this year. Here is what we’ll cover:

  • What is Dry January

  • What is considered drinking in moderation

  • What are the short and long-term risks of drinking

  • What are the benefits of giving up alcohol

  • Tips for quitting or reducing your drinking for Dry January

  • How Reframe can help you reduce or quit drinking

  • How Flex can help

  • What is excessive drinking

  • How HSA/FSA can assist you in overcoming alcohol dependency

What is Dry and Damp January?

Dry January is a growing global movement that challenges you to kickstart the year on a healthy note by consuming no alcohol for 31 days. That’s right. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

Damp January, on the other hand, is about reducing your drinking for the month. Cutting back is a great way to mindfully explore your relationship with alcohol without the heavy handedness of going cold Wild Turkey.

However you want to approach this, it's an opportunity to reassess what alcohol means to you, break habits, and experience the positive changes that come with a month of sobriety.

What Is Considered Drinking in Moderation?

First things first, let’s set a baseline for where most casual drinks are coming from.

Drinking in moderation typically refers to consuming alcohol in a way that does not pose a risk to your health. According to the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025,” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is recommended to limit intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women. 

What is considered a standard drink in the US?

In the United States, a standard drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. This roughly translates to 12 ounces of beer (with an ABV of 5%), 5 ounces of wine (typically about 12%), or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (40%).

Still, even limited alcohol consumption can have some risks. 



What Are the Short and Long-Term Risks of Drinking?

If life were a game of Russian roulette, excessive alcohol consumption would be like loading a few extra bullets.

Sure, the occasional hangover might seem like a small price to pay for a fun night out, but boy do they seem to get worse as you get older! More than that, alcohol impairs motor coordination and decision-making, which can increase your chances of accidental injury (to yourself or others) or lead to undesirable behavior.

Longer-term, sustained drinking can have detrimental effects on your vital organs. The liver beers the brunt of the damage (see what we did there?), which can lead to one of more than 100 liver diseases, cirrhosis, and even organ failure. Spirits do more than haunt in the night, they can be bad on your heart too — long-term consumption may contribute to deadly heart conditions such as increased and irregular heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and ultimately can lead to alcoholic cardiomyopathy (a weakening of the heart function).

Regular drinking is also linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including breast, liver, and esophageal. These risks reinforce the importance of moderation or, in the case of Dry January, complete abstinence. 

For more information about the long-term effects of drinking, here are some popular articles and podcasts. It’s always good to weigh the risks and do your research so you can make an educated decision.

What Are the Benefits of Giving up Alcohol?

The benefits of giving up alcohol are multifaceted. Expect better sleep, clearer thoughts, and a complexion that rivals a Photoshopped Instagram filter. It’s almost like hitting the reset button on your well-being. 

Here are some commonly asked questions about the perks of personal prohibition:

Does sleep improve without alcohol?

Quitting drinking is likely to improve your sleep. While you might experience drowsiness from alcohol and others might use it to help them go to bed, drinking actually reduces the quality of sleep and disrupts your natural circadian rhythm. From increased awakenings in the night, as a result of frequent urination or altered breathing (it can exacerbate sleep apnea), to suppressing Rapid Eye Movement (REM), playing with alcohol means a worse sleep score.

Will quitting alcohol lower cholesterol?

Yes, it can. Alcohol raises your levels of triglycerides, may increase LDL (“bad” cholesterol) which leads to atherosclerosis, can lead to weight gain (especially around the belly which is associated with higher LDL and lower HDL) and strains the liver (which helps regulates cholesterol). 

Some research has suggested drinking moderate levels of red wine can increase HDL (the “good” cholesterol) which may reduce the risk of heart disease. However, the risks of alcohol usage tend to outway this potential advantage. 

Will I lose weight if I stop drinking alcohol?

It’s very possible! There is a reason why one of the first recommendations when dieting is to stop drinking your calories — beverages are highly consumable extra calories that don’t tend to make you feel satiated (whether it’s soda, orange juice, or beer). Not to mention, these drinks are typically nutrient deficient. 

Along those lines, alcohol is calorically dense (a typical mid-strength lager, around 4.5% ABV, contains around 200 calories) so cutting it out is easy math, and can lead to weight loss. Plus, without those 3 am alcohol-induced cravings, maintaining a healthy diet becomes much more manageable.

Will quitting alcohol help me save money?

Absolutely, even more than you might expect. According to a Gallup poll from July 2023, 12% of respondents had over eight drinks in the last week, while 55% had between one and seven. Say that is equivalent to a bottle of wine or a 6-pack, and they go for $12 a pop. Over the course of a year (52 weeks), that’s $624 spent on alcohol consumption.

This doesn’t factor in the costs of long-term complications from liver damage or cirrhosis, missed days at work or reduced productivity, and on and on. It’s clear that the financial savings from abstaining from alcohol adds up, and that money could be redirected toward other self-improvement activities or savings goals.

Tips for Dry January: Quitting or Reducing Your Drinking

Attempting a Dry January (or February, or anytime, really) is a commendable, but often challenging goal. Let us be your designated driver on your road toward sobriety, with some tips in tow.

Pro tip: Don't keep alcohol in the house

Out of sight, out of mind — eliminate temptations by removing any alcohol from your home. This simple step can significantly reduce the likelihood of a sip.

Find a substitute non-alcoholic drink

Whether it’s tea, sparkling water, or a mocktail that makes you feel like James Bond, experiment with various non-alcoholic beverages to find a satisfying alternative to sip on in social settings.

How to stop alcohol cravings

When cravings arise, distract yourself with activities such as sports, exercise, painting, meditation, or anything else that engages the mind. 

If necessary, reach out to a support system, whether it's friends, family, or an organized support group, to share your feelings and seek encouragement. 

Mindfulness techniques, like deep breathing or meditation, are also worth considering, as they help manage stress and cravings more effectively.



How Reframe Can Help You Reduce or Quit Drinking

Like everything else these days, quitting alcohol can be made much easier with the right software. In our case, we recommend Reframe, a popular app and evidence-based behavior change program in one.

Developed in collaboration with medical and mental health experts, their neuroscience-centric approach can help you reduce or completely quit drinking. In fact, 91% of Reframe users noted a substantial decrease in alcohol use within 3 months.

The app also includes a guide on mindful drinking, which means strategically enjoying alcohol with minimal effect on your health, in-depth courses, a personalized drink tracker, and a space where you can talk to and celebrate milestones with other anonymous participants.

As is the case with Sunnyside, Try Dry, and similar apps, your HSA/FSA can help pay for Reframe. Enjoy an affordable path to a more sober future.

How Flex Can Help You Along Your Sobriety Journey

If you’re looking for services or tools like we’ve described, Flex makes the process of using HSA/FSA to cover your medical expenses simple. Here’s how it works for Reframe:

If the item falls outside of standard IRS guidelines: Flex will check your eligibility for a Letter of Medical Necessity. When you go to checkout, a doctor’s appointment takes place: 

  • Fill out a short eligibility form, sharing relevant information with Flex’s medical team. 

  • If you qualify, Flex sends the LOMN to you via email.

  • Then, simply enter your HSA or FSA card details and complete the purchase. Again, no more need for reimbursements!

Apply These Tips for a Successful Dry January — And Beyond!

Even a single month without alcohol can lead to reduced anxiety, improved mood, increased energy levels, enhanced self-esteem, and many more benefits.

Dry January is not just a fad; it's a chance to take back the reins of your health, rewrite the script, and redefine what it means to have a good time. 

However, while most people drink in moderation, some have developed deeper challenges, such as having difficulty controlling how much they consume or using alcohol in a way that puts themselves or others at risk. If you think this might describe you, or someone you care about, we’ve shared signs of potential alcohol problems and advice for getting help below.

Maybe You Drink a Bit More Than What We’ve Been Talking About (Or Are Unsure)… What Is Excessive Drinking?

Excessive or heavy drinking is often characterized as regularly consuming more than the recommended limits. This generally means crossing the abovementioned recommendation of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Drinking of this nature is linked to a variety of health risks, such as motor vehicle crashes, violence, sexual risk behaviors, high blood pressure, and cancer (as noted above).

In fact, in the U.S., excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 140,000 deaths each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and was responsible for $249 billion in economic costs in 2010, from a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

What are the signs of potential alcohol problems?

Recognizing potential symptoms early on is crucial. Signs include:

  • Withdrawal symptoms:

    • Experiencing physical or psychological symptoms when not drinking, such as tremors, anxiety, nausea, or irritability.

  • Loss of control:

    • Inability to limit the amount of alcohol consumed or failing attempts to cut down.

  • Neglecting responsibilities:

    • Failing to meet obligations at work, school, or home due to alcohol use.

  • Social isolation:

    • Separating from friends and family or avoiding social activities that don't involve alcohol.

  • Change in priorities:

    • Shifting priorities in favor of alcohol use, neglecting hobbies or activities.

Denial:

  • Minimizing or denying the extent of the alcohol-related problems.

What is alcohol use disorder (AUD)?

Alcohol use disorder covers a range of unhealthy alcohol use patterns that can be mild, moderate or severe. This is based on the number of symptoms one experiences, some of which are listed above, and it occurs more frequently for people in their 20s and 30s. 

Alcohol abuse is generally defined as habitually consuming more alcohol than is recommended leading to unhealthy behaviors. It involves harmful or hazardous use that leads to physical or mental health problems. Typically, it’s a pattern of drinking that affects one's ability to function in daily life.

Alcoholism is a severe category of AUD, and is a chronic disease characterized by an inability to control or stop drinking despite the negative consequences. It is a pattern of excessive alcohol consumption that interferes with physical health, mental well-being, and social functioning. 

Professional treatment and support are often necessary for recovery.



How HSA/FSA Can Assist You in Overcoming Alcohol Dependency

If you’re facing severe challenges on your journey to quit drinking, your Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) can help. 

A wide range of services related to alcohol dependence treatment are eligible for reimbursement with your HSA and FSA. Here are some examples:

  • Behavioral therapies: Behavioral therapies, including sessions with an alcohol abuse therapist, drug and alcohol counseling, and even online alcohol counseling, may be covered.

  • Residential treatment: For those requiring more intensive care, HSAs and FSAs can contribute to the costs of residential alcohol or substance abuse treatment programs. 

  • Medication for alcoholism: Medications prescribed for alcoholism, which may aid in the recovery process, are eligible for HSA/FSA reimbursement.

  • Support groups: Groups such as those affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), can be financially supported through these accounts.

  • Detox and withdrawal: You can use your HSA/FSA for expenses related to detoxification and withdrawal management, other vital components of the recovery journey.

 Know that you’re not alone and there are many ways to get help.

Overview

As the last echoes of the New Year's fireworks fade away and the confetti settles, many of us find ourselves at a crossroads of resolutions. Some vow to master yoga poses they can't pronounce, others pledge allegiance to gyms and kale smoothies, while others still swear to cut back… on just about anything. 

One of the more common, and contemporary, goals is to quit the clink. Enter Dry January — a toast to good health and a much-needed holiday for your liver. It’s on trend too: About 1 in 5 drinking-age U.S. adults vowed to reduce their alcohol consumption this January, according to a Morning Consult poll

While the New Year is a convenient time to freshen up old habits, you don’t need to wait until the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31 to make a resolution — any time of the year works! Ready to raise one to a lower BAC? The health benefits and savings are worthy of a toast.



What We’ll Cover: From Tips for a Successful Dry January to the Benefits of Giving up Alcohol

Join us for a month of mocktails and learn how to navigate Dry January this year. Here is what we’ll cover:

  • What is Dry January

  • What is considered drinking in moderation

  • What are the short and long-term risks of drinking

  • What are the benefits of giving up alcohol

  • Tips for quitting or reducing your drinking for Dry January

  • How Reframe can help you reduce or quit drinking

  • How Flex can help

  • What is excessive drinking

  • How HSA/FSA can assist you in overcoming alcohol dependency

What is Dry and Damp January?

Dry January is a growing global movement that challenges you to kickstart the year on a healthy note by consuming no alcohol for 31 days. That’s right. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

Damp January, on the other hand, is about reducing your drinking for the month. Cutting back is a great way to mindfully explore your relationship with alcohol without the heavy handedness of going cold Wild Turkey.

However you want to approach this, it's an opportunity to reassess what alcohol means to you, break habits, and experience the positive changes that come with a month of sobriety.

What Is Considered Drinking in Moderation?

First things first, let’s set a baseline for where most casual drinks are coming from.

Drinking in moderation typically refers to consuming alcohol in a way that does not pose a risk to your health. According to the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025,” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is recommended to limit intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women. 

What is considered a standard drink in the US?

In the United States, a standard drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. This roughly translates to 12 ounces of beer (with an ABV of 5%), 5 ounces of wine (typically about 12%), or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (40%).

Still, even limited alcohol consumption can have some risks. 



What Are the Short and Long-Term Risks of Drinking?

If life were a game of Russian roulette, excessive alcohol consumption would be like loading a few extra bullets.

Sure, the occasional hangover might seem like a small price to pay for a fun night out, but boy do they seem to get worse as you get older! More than that, alcohol impairs motor coordination and decision-making, which can increase your chances of accidental injury (to yourself or others) or lead to undesirable behavior.

Longer-term, sustained drinking can have detrimental effects on your vital organs. The liver beers the brunt of the damage (see what we did there?), which can lead to one of more than 100 liver diseases, cirrhosis, and even organ failure. Spirits do more than haunt in the night, they can be bad on your heart too — long-term consumption may contribute to deadly heart conditions such as increased and irregular heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and ultimately can lead to alcoholic cardiomyopathy (a weakening of the heart function).

Regular drinking is also linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including breast, liver, and esophageal. These risks reinforce the importance of moderation or, in the case of Dry January, complete abstinence. 

For more information about the long-term effects of drinking, here are some popular articles and podcasts. It’s always good to weigh the risks and do your research so you can make an educated decision.

What Are the Benefits of Giving up Alcohol?

The benefits of giving up alcohol are multifaceted. Expect better sleep, clearer thoughts, and a complexion that rivals a Photoshopped Instagram filter. It’s almost like hitting the reset button on your well-being. 

Here are some commonly asked questions about the perks of personal prohibition:

Does sleep improve without alcohol?

Quitting drinking is likely to improve your sleep. While you might experience drowsiness from alcohol and others might use it to help them go to bed, drinking actually reduces the quality of sleep and disrupts your natural circadian rhythm. From increased awakenings in the night, as a result of frequent urination or altered breathing (it can exacerbate sleep apnea), to suppressing Rapid Eye Movement (REM), playing with alcohol means a worse sleep score.

Will quitting alcohol lower cholesterol?

Yes, it can. Alcohol raises your levels of triglycerides, may increase LDL (“bad” cholesterol) which leads to atherosclerosis, can lead to weight gain (especially around the belly which is associated with higher LDL and lower HDL) and strains the liver (which helps regulates cholesterol). 

Some research has suggested drinking moderate levels of red wine can increase HDL (the “good” cholesterol) which may reduce the risk of heart disease. However, the risks of alcohol usage tend to outway this potential advantage. 

Will I lose weight if I stop drinking alcohol?

It’s very possible! There is a reason why one of the first recommendations when dieting is to stop drinking your calories — beverages are highly consumable extra calories that don’t tend to make you feel satiated (whether it’s soda, orange juice, or beer). Not to mention, these drinks are typically nutrient deficient. 

Along those lines, alcohol is calorically dense (a typical mid-strength lager, around 4.5% ABV, contains around 200 calories) so cutting it out is easy math, and can lead to weight loss. Plus, without those 3 am alcohol-induced cravings, maintaining a healthy diet becomes much more manageable.

Will quitting alcohol help me save money?

Absolutely, even more than you might expect. According to a Gallup poll from July 2023, 12% of respondents had over eight drinks in the last week, while 55% had between one and seven. Say that is equivalent to a bottle of wine or a 6-pack, and they go for $12 a pop. Over the course of a year (52 weeks), that’s $624 spent on alcohol consumption.

This doesn’t factor in the costs of long-term complications from liver damage or cirrhosis, missed days at work or reduced productivity, and on and on. It’s clear that the financial savings from abstaining from alcohol adds up, and that money could be redirected toward other self-improvement activities or savings goals.

Tips for Dry January: Quitting or Reducing Your Drinking

Attempting a Dry January (or February, or anytime, really) is a commendable, but often challenging goal. Let us be your designated driver on your road toward sobriety, with some tips in tow.

Pro tip: Don't keep alcohol in the house

Out of sight, out of mind — eliminate temptations by removing any alcohol from your home. This simple step can significantly reduce the likelihood of a sip.

Find a substitute non-alcoholic drink

Whether it’s tea, sparkling water, or a mocktail that makes you feel like James Bond, experiment with various non-alcoholic beverages to find a satisfying alternative to sip on in social settings.

How to stop alcohol cravings

When cravings arise, distract yourself with activities such as sports, exercise, painting, meditation, or anything else that engages the mind. 

If necessary, reach out to a support system, whether it's friends, family, or an organized support group, to share your feelings and seek encouragement. 

Mindfulness techniques, like deep breathing or meditation, are also worth considering, as they help manage stress and cravings more effectively.



How Reframe Can Help You Reduce or Quit Drinking

Like everything else these days, quitting alcohol can be made much easier with the right software. In our case, we recommend Reframe, a popular app and evidence-based behavior change program in one.

Developed in collaboration with medical and mental health experts, their neuroscience-centric approach can help you reduce or completely quit drinking. In fact, 91% of Reframe users noted a substantial decrease in alcohol use within 3 months.

The app also includes a guide on mindful drinking, which means strategically enjoying alcohol with minimal effect on your health, in-depth courses, a personalized drink tracker, and a space where you can talk to and celebrate milestones with other anonymous participants.

As is the case with Sunnyside, Try Dry, and similar apps, your HSA/FSA can help pay for Reframe. Enjoy an affordable path to a more sober future.

How Flex Can Help You Along Your Sobriety Journey

If you’re looking for services or tools like we’ve described, Flex makes the process of using HSA/FSA to cover your medical expenses simple. Here’s how it works for Reframe:

If the item falls outside of standard IRS guidelines: Flex will check your eligibility for a Letter of Medical Necessity. When you go to checkout, a doctor’s appointment takes place: 

  • Fill out a short eligibility form, sharing relevant information with Flex’s medical team. 

  • If you qualify, Flex sends the LOMN to you via email.

  • Then, simply enter your HSA or FSA card details and complete the purchase. Again, no more need for reimbursements!

Apply These Tips for a Successful Dry January — And Beyond!

Even a single month without alcohol can lead to reduced anxiety, improved mood, increased energy levels, enhanced self-esteem, and many more benefits.

Dry January is not just a fad; it's a chance to take back the reins of your health, rewrite the script, and redefine what it means to have a good time. 

However, while most people drink in moderation, some have developed deeper challenges, such as having difficulty controlling how much they consume or using alcohol in a way that puts themselves or others at risk. If you think this might describe you, or someone you care about, we’ve shared signs of potential alcohol problems and advice for getting help below.

Maybe You Drink a Bit More Than What We’ve Been Talking About (Or Are Unsure)… What Is Excessive Drinking?

Excessive or heavy drinking is often characterized as regularly consuming more than the recommended limits. This generally means crossing the abovementioned recommendation of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Drinking of this nature is linked to a variety of health risks, such as motor vehicle crashes, violence, sexual risk behaviors, high blood pressure, and cancer (as noted above).

In fact, in the U.S., excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 140,000 deaths each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and was responsible for $249 billion in economic costs in 2010, from a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

What are the signs of potential alcohol problems?

Recognizing potential symptoms early on is crucial. Signs include:

  • Withdrawal symptoms:

    • Experiencing physical or psychological symptoms when not drinking, such as tremors, anxiety, nausea, or irritability.

  • Loss of control:

    • Inability to limit the amount of alcohol consumed or failing attempts to cut down.

  • Neglecting responsibilities:

    • Failing to meet obligations at work, school, or home due to alcohol use.

  • Social isolation:

    • Separating from friends and family or avoiding social activities that don't involve alcohol.

  • Change in priorities:

    • Shifting priorities in favor of alcohol use, neglecting hobbies or activities.

Denial:

  • Minimizing or denying the extent of the alcohol-related problems.

What is alcohol use disorder (AUD)?

Alcohol use disorder covers a range of unhealthy alcohol use patterns that can be mild, moderate or severe. This is based on the number of symptoms one experiences, some of which are listed above, and it occurs more frequently for people in their 20s and 30s. 

Alcohol abuse is generally defined as habitually consuming more alcohol than is recommended leading to unhealthy behaviors. It involves harmful or hazardous use that leads to physical or mental health problems. Typically, it’s a pattern of drinking that affects one's ability to function in daily life.

Alcoholism is a severe category of AUD, and is a chronic disease characterized by an inability to control or stop drinking despite the negative consequences. It is a pattern of excessive alcohol consumption that interferes with physical health, mental well-being, and social functioning. 

Professional treatment and support are often necessary for recovery.



How HSA/FSA Can Assist You in Overcoming Alcohol Dependency

If you’re facing severe challenges on your journey to quit drinking, your Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) can help. 

A wide range of services related to alcohol dependence treatment are eligible for reimbursement with your HSA and FSA. Here are some examples:

  • Behavioral therapies: Behavioral therapies, including sessions with an alcohol abuse therapist, drug and alcohol counseling, and even online alcohol counseling, may be covered.

  • Residential treatment: For those requiring more intensive care, HSAs and FSAs can contribute to the costs of residential alcohol or substance abuse treatment programs. 

  • Medication for alcoholism: Medications prescribed for alcoholism, which may aid in the recovery process, are eligible for HSA/FSA reimbursement.

  • Support groups: Groups such as those affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), can be financially supported through these accounts.

  • Detox and withdrawal: You can use your HSA/FSA for expenses related to detoxification and withdrawal management, other vital components of the recovery journey.

 Know that you’re not alone and there are many ways to get help.

Flex is a modern marketplace for consumers to discover and purchase HSA/FSA eligible products. From fitness and nutrition, to sleep and mental health, Flex takes a holistic view of healthcare and enables consumers to use their pre-tax money to do the same.