“There’s a difference between quitting drinking and pressing pause,” said Smith, who worries that heavy drinkers could be using a month of sobriety to make excuses for abuse, dependence or addiction the other 11 months of the year. (Source)
Smith has a point, oftentimes a person struggling with substance use disorder will get stuck in the denial stage, and look to any “evidence” that they do not have a problem. Following this rationale, if they can put down a substance for a month, then they do not have a substance use issue. The difficulty with this is two-fold: binge drinking is not seen as a problem, and people assume that an issue with alcohol implies dependence. While Dry January can be a self reflective time for some, for others it may prolong denial and excuse binge drinking.
Other drawbacks of Dry January:
Withdrawal symptoms: Heavy drinkers who suddenly abstain from alcohol may experience withdrawal symptoms like headache, fatigue, and nausea. Some may be at a higher risk of severe symptoms like seizures and delirium. Consult with a doctor before joining the challenge.
Less Socialization: While socializing should not depend on drinking, participants report less social contact during the challenge. This can cause feelings of loneliness or isolation from your contacts.
Health Benefits are Reversed: During a month of abstinence from alcohol, your health improves, however, the health benefits can be lost by drinking again when the month ends.
Not Enough Research: Experts say the popularity of Dry January does not confirm its effectiveness, as this type of campaign has had no rigorous evaluation. Accurate statistics are difficult because the participant pool is unknown (as is their relationship with alcohol).