Sober January ~ Drynuary ~ Interventions And Understanding The Importance Of A Safe Medical Withdrawl From Alcohol

"No drinking"
“No drinking” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A simple Facebook post caught our eye…

According to Wikipedia, FACEBOOK (FB) reported 1.15 billion (yes, with a B) monthly users as of January 2014. So it is pretty fair to say that if you are reading this post you probably also have a FB page. We read an acquaintance’s FB status post the other day which caught our attention.

“So today is 7 days sober! I’m going to try and stick it out til Friday as I’m really not craving alcohol at all.”

The reason we found this status interesting is that it seemed our acquaintance was in some kind of contest or had taken a bet that he could just stop drinking for a particular amount of time. We have no idea if he is a casual drinker or has a problem with alcohol or not. But we became curious about how many people decide to stop drinking after the New Year.

Are you familiar with the term drynuary?

We googled the phrase “sober January” and we came across a number of articles that referred to the term drynuary. Basically it means to abstain from alcohol for the month of January; however, the Urban Dictionary defines it as follows:

The practice of not drinking for the entire month of January — staying “dry” — usually in response to over-consumption during the holidays. Avoiding alcohol for the month can be seen as a form of New Year’s resolution intended to cleanse the liver, promote a more healthy lifestyle, atone for sins of the past, etc. Drynuary usually results in an increase in seeing movies, drinking sparkling water in bars, and hanging out in diners drinking coffee on Saturday nights. Usually followed by an ill-advised reentry into heavy boozing on February 1st without realizing how badly your tolerance has suffered.

L.V. Anderson, a Slate assistant editor, indicates that the term drynuary was coined in 2007 by author John Ore. And apparently this tradition is not practiced just in the United States, but also often mentioned in Great Britain as “sober January.”

The importance of understanding alcohol withdrawal syndrome…

On the surface the idea of taking a break from consuming alcohol sounds like a good healthy decision; however, many people who are high functioning alcoholics and their family members may not be aware of the serious complications of alcohol withdrawal. According to WebMD:

“Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a potentially life-threatening condition that can occur in people who have been drinking heavily for weeks, months, or years and then either stop or significantly reduce their alcohol consumption.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as two hours after the last drink, persist for weeks, and range from mild anxiety and shakiness to severe complications, such as seizures and delirium tremens (also called DTs). The death rate from DTs — which are characterized by confusion, rapid heartbeat, and fever — is estimated to range from 1% to 5%.

Because alcohol withdrawal symptoms can rapidly worsen, it’s important to seek medical attention even if symptoms are seemingly mild. Appropriate alcohol withdrawal treatments can reduce the risk of developing withdrawal seizures or DTs.”

If you are unfamiliar with delirium tremens (DTs), you might recall seeing it depicted in various movies over the years: The Days of Wine and Roses (1962), The Lost Weekend (1945),  The Last Samurai (2003), Leaving Las Vegas (1995), Everything Must Go (2010), to name a few.

Consider an Interventionist

It is not unusual for family members to become aware of a loved one’s serious addiction to alcohol or drugs during the holiday season. Trying to convince a loved one to seek treatment can seem like an impossible challenge. Guidance is often sought from primary care physicians, school counselors, friends, neighbors, relatives, or employee assistance programs; however, reaching out to an interventionist can be one of the healthiest decisions you can make for yourself and for your loved one. An action plan can be set in motion:

  • A determination of the need for an intervention – sometimes when the loved one has already agreed on receiving treatment, a recommendation will be made that doesn’t involve an intervention.
  • Arrangements to execute the intervention (travel, timing, special needs and considerations for the time, place and type of intervention)
  • Pre-intervention counseling and advisement – thorough determination of what families need to prepare such as verbal or written statements to the loved one and what to expect emotionally during an intervention.
  • The intervention
  • Transport to treatment, either with the addicted, family member and/or interventionist or via scheduled travel arrangements to the recommended treatment center.


Recovery is possible; it starts with the first step

To start the New Year we thought we would share with you a video we came across today from Family Health Productions. The video is narrated by Matt Damon and is simply called: Alcohol: True Stories.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Here’s to you, to your health, to your recovery…

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