Have you ever thought about taking a break from alcohol but haven’t made the leap? Not drinking for a while might seem daunting or like there’s no good time to do it, but let’s see what hitting pause on drinking really looks like.
What does it mean to take a break from drinking?
Taking a break from drinking doesn’t have to mean giving up alcohol for months on end. Not drinking for just 30 days can have major benefits. For example, you can use an alcohol break to support your physical readiness. You could also time the break right during Dry January when people all over the world are also taking a break.
Why take a break from drinking in the first place?
The benefits speak for themselves. Check out the following positive impacts you could see if you hit pause on drinking:
- Say “Goodbye!” to the extra weight. When your body isn’t taking in empty calories from alcohol, it can more easily digest the nutrients, vitamins and protein from your food. This can help you stay fit and build muscle. Taking a break from drinking will also help your health in other ways (think: a boost in your immune system and spike in energy level).
- Watch the cash pile up. If you take a break from drinking, look at how much cash you’ll save— it could easily be hundreds! Think about all of the rewarding ways you could spend your extra cash (like buying a new laptop to keep in touch with buddies or a nice dinner with a loved one). You could also stash the cash for a rainy day.
- Get better sleep. Getting quality sleep is hard enough with the usual demands of military life. Remember that alcohol actually worsens sleep. Taking a break from drinking can only help your sleep schedule – whether you’re preparing to wake up for a long night shift or an early morning workout.
- Enjoy better sex. If none of the other points are intriguing enough to take a break from alcohol, maybe better sex is a reason to try it out. Know that when you remove alcohol from the equation, your sexual performance and decision-making will improve. Keep the night exciting and safe for everyone!
When you drink less, your health, lifestyle and relationships gain more. Cutting back on alcohol by taking a break could be a first step. If you want to really see these benefits in your life, choose 30 days to drop drinking, see if a buddy will join you and think about how you feel along the way. During the process, learn how you can reshape your drinking routine and best manage alcohol in your life.
Individuals who are heavy drinkers (for women, having 4 or more drinks in a day or 8 or more drinks per week; for men, 5 or more drinks in a day or 15 or more drinks per week) who want to take a break from drinking are at a high risk of experiencing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal when they stop drinking. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from mild (think: shaking, sweating, headaches, nausea and irritability) to severe and life-threatening, including death. If you drink heavily and are preparing to hit pause, talk with your health care provider before you stop drinking so you can keep yourself safe. Remember to also review your Service policy
so you know where you can self-refer or self-identify for help with alcohol use concerns. Asking for help before an incident does not result in an adverse action.
Use this activity sheet [PDF 831KB] to track your alcohol free days and fill in progress as you go!