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Three wine glasses: the first is intact, the second has some cracks, and the third is shattered with liquid draining out

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My year of Dry January

A monthlong break from drinking was just the beginning for me. 

Two people in bed, a man and a woman. Caption reads “Sometime between 11:53 PM on December 31, 2022, and when I got out of bed on January 1, 2023, I decided to try doing Dry January.” Thought bubble above the woman’s head reads “I need a break…”
Woman sitting at a computer, reading lots of news headlines about Dry January. Caption reads “I knew plenty of people who had observed the month, where the idea is that you stop drinking alcohol. Each year it seemed like more folks were participating.”
Man and woman in a bedroom. Caption reads “I’d never taken a break like that before.” Woman says, “I’m not sure I’m even capable of it…I guess that’s probably a sign I should have tried this sooner.”
Three panels: A bar, a woman on a date with a frog, and a bunch of people at a party in a shoebox. Caption reads “I’d been drinking regularly since I was in college. After I graduated and moved to New York City, the frequency increased from (long) weekends to near nightly. At work happy hours, on dates, in cramped apartments with friends.”
Woman in a swimsuit poised to dive into a large wine glass. Caption reads “For a long time I liked to drink. I liked who I was after a couple of beers or an old-fashioned: more free, more expansive, less anxious. I liked the hazy, conspiratorial feeling of a conversation over cocktails or a party gone late.”
Woman swimming in the wine glass, which has cracks in the surface. Caption reads “Even then, cracks emerged. I first blacked out in my late teens and would do so once or twice a year after that. I can still summon shame from a decade ago induced by half-remembered rants, fights I picked with undeserving people, or sex I didn’t particularly want to have.”

Woman trapped in wine glass, where most of the liquid has seeped out from the cracks. Caption reads “Still, that wasn’t enough to make me reexamine my habits. I rationalized the hangovers and spikes of bad feeling as just part of the deal, something everyone else around me was navigating too.”
Man and woman on a couch, holding video game controllers, with alcohol bottles in front of them. Caption reads “It wasn’t until the depths of lockdown that my mindset started to shift. My partner and I had begun drinking at home with much greater frequency, going through bottles of wine and whiskey each week.”
Bottles overflowing from a recycling bin. Caption reads “It was the only way I knew to signal to my brain that I was done with work for the day. That first glass inevitably turned into three or sometimes four, which inevitably turned into bleary-eyed sluggishness the next morning.”
Woman taking recycling bag out to the bin. Caption reads “It didn’t feel like something I was choosing to do, or even getting that much pleasure out of anymore; it felt more akin to a mandate, a necessary way for me to reach my own baseline. I wish I’d stopped then of my own accord, but it took years, and the permission of a collective gesture like Dry January, to finally do it.”
Woman shopping in a grocery store. Caption reads “Those first few weeks were easier than I expected. I quickly realized I couldn’t just remove alcohol from my life; I had to swap it with something else, or maybe several somethings.”
Woman sitting at a bar, turning over her shoulder to face the reader. Caption reads “I was lucky that the nonalcoholic beer and spirits market had recently begun to pick up steam (the jury’s still out on wine). It felt almost seamless to simply switch my order at the bar from an IPA to an NA.” The woman says, “I’m also lucky weed has been decriminalized in my state…but that’s something to unpack in another comic.”
Three phone screens featuring snippets of conversations with friends. Caption reads “I was lucky that for the most part, the people around me didn’t care that I wasn’t drinking. At first I was self-conscious.”
Four women hanging out on an apartment building stoop. Caption reads “My friends, though, just wanted to see me. It turned out that a lot of them were reconsidering their own relationships with alcohol.” Friends say, “I haven’t started drinking again since I gave birth.” “I’m off drinking while I train for the marathon.” “I just want to take a little choice back.”
Split panel of woman waking up in the morning and knitting on a couch at night. Caption reads “What kept me going day after day, week after week, was the realization that all of a sudden I had more time — or at least time of much higher quality than before. My mornings were no longer reserved for recovering from the previous night. My nights no longer had a productivity cap after that first sip.”
Woman crossing off dates on a calendar, whichis open to May. Caption reads “I didn’t necessarily feel amazing, but I certainly felt the absence of bad, which I hadn’t experienced in more years than I could count.” Woman thinks, “I should probably stop calling what I’m doing ‘Dry January.’”
Image of woman’s face, a brain, and a scale. Caption reads “So that’s where I am now, almost exactly a year later. There are some measurable effects. My skin is clearer. My physical anxiety has decreased overall. I’ve lost a little weight. It’s not a cure-all by any means (I still have acne and panic attacks), but no matter how you slice it, drinking less has considerably improved my life.”
Two panels: woman at a wedding and at a restaurant. At the wedding, she says, “Cheers to the happy couple!” Caption reads “I haven’t cut out alcohol entirely; in fact, lately I’ve been trying to suss out when a drink or two is what I really, truly want and will enhance a given situation. I’ll have some wine at a wedding…or at a special dinner with friends. The difference is that now it’s a choice, and no longer my default.”
Split-panel image of cooking dinner, attending a baseball game, and going to a party. Caption reads “I don’t think I’ll ever go back to regular drinking, but there are parts I sometimes miss. A glass of wine while cooking dinner. A beer at a baseball game. In a gossipy gaggle at a party. What’s been most helpful in those moments is to tell myself it’s okay if I do drink — I just have to genuinely want it. The answer has so far almost always been no. It makes the yeses that much more deliberate.”
Woman sitting at a table with a friend, holding a menu. Caption reads “That’s maybe the most significant result of my year of Dry January: realizing that I have the capacity to change. That while so much is out of my control, this one particular way I engage with the world and with my own body doesn’t have to be.” Woman says, “This is going to sound weird, but do you want to share a glass of wine?”
Same image as previous: woman sitting at a table with her friend. Caption reads “I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions, but I do believe in that.” Friend says, “Oh absolutely!”

For more information on alcohol use disorder, including treatment options, check out this piece by Rachel DuRose.

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