January is a time we often associate with new beginnings and many of us use the month to challenge ourselves to make healthier lifestyle choices. Dry January has become increasingly popular as a way to reset our relationship with alcohol and improve our overall health. Dry January can a great way to start the year with a healthier relationship with alcohol, but it should not be the only month of the year when we think about our relationship to alcohol and the health benefits of limiting our alcohol intake. 

Because of my work in oncology, I’m always telling people to drink less to reduce cancer risk, and. Ironically, my husband works in the spirits industry. However, he’s not a big drinker either. We both find we feel so much better when alcohol consumption is only a very occasional thing. We feel happier and healthier physically and mentally. While I used to drink a few times a week, several years ago I started to notice that I had better sleep and less anxiety when I abstained, and it was hard to want to drink after that. 

Admittedly, most people are aware of the mainstream risks involved with consuming alcohol, whether it is a simple hangover or a more complex issue like possibly falling into alcoholism. But drinking alcohol also poses other risks that many of us don’t always consider,  such as disturbing our sleep patterns, aging our skin faster, worsening depression and anxiety, and even increasing the risk of certain cancers. For example, research has shown that for every one drink someone has per day, risk of breast cancer increases by 10%.⁣ Other cancers have been linked to alcohol intake as well. Based on a research of how much alcohol seems to impact risk, I generally recommend keeping alcohol to three or fewer servings of alcohol per week if you do drink. 

Anything that can support risk reduction, such as limiting alcohol, is a plus. So to help you transition out of Dry January and into the rest of the year, I have a few tips for fostering a healthy relationship with drinking:

Explore why you drink alcohol

By understanding our individual motivations for drinking alcohol, we can learn how to use it responsibly and make sure that we develop a healthy relationship with it. Drinking alcohol can be a social activity, a way to relax, or even a ritualistic practice. Ask yourself, when do you find that you consume alcohol the most? Once you understand this, you can gain a better sense of control and begin exploring other ways that you can achieve the same satisfaction. For example, if you use it to relax, replace it with another activity to help you unwind at the end of the day or make a ritual of savoring a non-alcoholic beverage. At first a cup of tea may not sound like a satisfying substitute, but when you serve it in your favorite mug, light a candle, and slip on some cozy slippers, you may find you love the new ritual even more. 


Practice mindful drinking

Another tip for fostering a healthy relationship with alcohol is to practice meaningful consumption. I like to think of it as “mindful drinking.” We should limit our intake and only drink occasionally, and when we do, make sure that it’s meaningful – something that adds to the experience rather than detracts from it. By practicing responsible drinking, we can ensure that we are not overindulging in alcohol or putting ourselves in any kind of danger. It also helps us be mindful of our choices and encourages us to enjoy the moment without getting carried away. Practice safe drinking and making sure that when you do drink, you’re choosing something that really feels like a worthwhile treat to you. 


Find other enjoyable things to drink

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy the taste and ritual of having a drink without the alcohol, there are a wide range of alternatives that you can try. For example, you’ve got sparkling water, juices, kombucha, teas, and shrubs, or you can make your own alcohol-free cocktails or try an alcohol-free wine, beer, or spirit. Yes, they do exist, and while some are disgusting, some are actually good.⁣ 

Mocktails (aka non-alcoholic cocktails) are also a great solution. With their delicious flavors, beautiful presentation, and creative ingredients, mocktails are a great way to enjoy the same experience as an alcoholic beverage without any of the negative effects. There are so many options to choose from that you’ll never get bored with trying something new. So why not give it a try and find out what other enjoyable things you can drink? 

Here’s one of my favorite mocktail recipes:


  • 1⁄4 cup ginger juice or 1⁄2 cup ginger kombucha⁣
  • The juice of 1 lemon (~2 tablespoons)⁣
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon honey⁣
  • Ice⁣
  • Seltzer⁣
  • Slice of lemon or piece of crystallized ginger for garnish⁣


  1. -n a small measuring cup or bowl, mix together the ginger juice or kombucha, lemon juice, and honey, if using.⁣
  2. Pour over ice in a rocks or Collins glass.⁣
  3. Top with seltzer and garnish with lemon slice or crystallized ginger.⁣


If you’re thinking about cutting down on your alcohol consumption, there are many ways to do so without feeling deprived. There are plenty of healthy alternatives that can help keep your social life going strong.  It’s all about finding what works for you. 


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