Dry, damp, or sober curious: Why does January drinking require a label?

(Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for NYCWFF)
(Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for NYCWFF) /

When the number on the calendar changes, many people resolve to make changes in their lifestyle. Whether it is grabbing the salad over a burger or walking an extra block instead of taking that Uber, the hope is that little changes will reap big rewards. Although positive change can be a good thing, lifting a glass seems to come with a qualification during the first month of the year. Why does January drinking require a label?

Terms like Dry January, Sober Curious, and a variety of other descriptors call to drinkers and ask them to put down that favorite beer, wine, or cocktail and sip on something less potent. It might be a way to step away from the overindulgences from the holiday season. Still, adding that label to the choice seems to lend to its gravity. Is it really an all or nothing scenario when it comes to particular choices?

It is often said that around mid-January, the resolution resolve becomes less forefront. While having a commitment buddy can help make it over the mid-month hump, it newest can wear off and it can be harder to resist the imbibe. Although people might want to stay on the straight and narrow, the all or nothing approach does not have to be the only choice.

Just like healthy eating, going to the extremes one way or another is not the easiest choice. Just like no one should eat a whole box of cookies, the same can be said about January drinking. Dry January is not about instantly correcting the sins of the past, but the notion of putting a label on how, when and what is drunk can add a level of negativity to the whole situation. That cloud doesn’t make the situation easier, in some ways it might make it harder.

As some studies have shown, being questioned about why or if people are participating in Dry January can lead to uneasy feelings. If the whole concept isn’t that big of a deal, why does it need a name. Just like a person picks chicken over beef, it is just one of many food choices on the table.

Now that a new year has started choosing a mocktail over a cocktail or a soda water over a hard seltzer does not have to come with a declaration that the beverage is a symbol of Dry January inclusion. It can just be a thirst for one beverage over another. That notion does not require a label for January drinking.