YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Since COVID-19 began, studies show Americans are drinking 14% more often. For women, that number is 17%. So if you’re feeling like you need a break, a cleanse, you might be right and this is your month. It’s what many call “Dry January.”

It’s a trend to take the entire month of January and not have a sip of alcohol. But will just 31 days make a difference? Dr. Carolina Figley said absolutely.

“Hopefully, you do it forever, but if you decide not to have some alcohol that month you will see a difference,” she said.

Those differences could be both long-term mental and physical health along with short-term.

“What alcohol does is dehydrate us. So, the dehydration not only is noticed in your body, you notice on your skin, on your hands and on your hair,” Figley said.

If health is your goal, cutting back on alcohol could come with weight loss, and it can reduce the risk of chronic illness.

“Alcohol is all empty calories. You don’t get any nutrients from it. You will see a huge and important decrease in pounds,” Figley said. “In the long-term, we have cardiovascular disease – high blood pressure, strokes, we have several types of cancers starting from your mouth and your throat and stomach cancer.”

And maybe you’re thinking what am I supposed to do on my Friday nights if I don’t go to the bar?
Kast Iron Soda Works in Salem may be one answer.

“You still get the bar feel without the temptation and all kinds of new things to try,” said owner Lesley Kline.

With over 500 types of sodas, you can swap out that beer for a bottle of whatever flavor pop you can think of.

“You still get the same social interaction that you would feel in a bar. On top of that, it is just a fun place to hang out. We always have good music. We have tons of board games,” Kline said.

If soda seems a bit too sweet or you’re doing dry January to cut the calories, they have healthy options, too.

“On top of all those sodas, we have several craft, small-batch seltzers. We carry high vita seltzers, sunshine seltzers,” Kline said.

Many people will make it two to three weeks without alcohol and back out, but Figley says to look back think about how good you’ve felt the last 19 days or so.

Another option is still going to the bar but ordering a mocktail, a non-alcoholic drink that still looks like a cocktail to feel more comfortable in that social setting.