Dry January: the effects of a month without alcohol

Hungover from a haze of Christmas parties and holiday feasts, people are once again swearing off alcohol for a while. What are the effects of a month-long break from booze? Tilburg University researcher Rob Bovens examined the impact of doing Dry January.

In the Netherlands, the annual Dry January detox is known as IkPas. More than ten thousand people accepted the challenge last year, swearing off alcohol for at least thirty days. Tilburg University researcher Rob Bovens (Tranzo) was asked to write a survey-based report about the effects of IkPas. 

Quick wins

As it turns out, a month of sobriety has several positive effects. Participants reported feeling more energetic, sleeping better, losing weight and saving money. And those are just the short-term effects, or the “quick wins”, which you’ll begin to notice after just a few weeks.

Long-term effects

Bovens also looked at long-term effects. He found that abstaining from alcohol for a while can help you ditch unhealthy drinking habits. Six months after taking a month-long break from alcohol, 70% of participants reported drinking less than before they took part in the IkPas campaign. On average, their alcohol consumption had dropped from 14,2 beverages a week to 9,8. Their frequency of drinking also decreased, from 4,5 days a week to 3,6.


People may take part in Dry January for different reasons. Bovens reported that most participants of last year’s IkPas campaign wanted to experience what a month without alcohol would do for them. Many others saw it as a challenge, or they hoped to feel better physically or mentally.

The report by Rob Bovens shows that there are quite a few reasons to put those champagne glasses away for a while. Doing Dry January can quickly help you feel better and save money. In the long term, it can help you break the habit of drinking too much too often.

The full report (in Dutch) is available here. If you want to sign up for IkPas, you can do so here.

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