The “Dryathalon”: a month without alcohol

By Kit Murray

murrayki@mnstate.edu

Recently, I discovered that in England (where I am) being sober is encouraged for the first 31 days of the year – better known in the UK as “Dry January” or even the “Dryathalon”.

Putting this into perspective, try going a month without something that you are actively involved with, and you’ll probably find it pretty difficult. It’s like Lent in a way, but if living in England has taught me anything, it’s that alcohol is not something anyone wants to live without.

After being here for only about two weeks, I’ve discovered many things about its culture, including what not to do at the grocery store, and that being American is exotic, apparently.

What has shocked me more than anything, though, is how often they drink. It’s almost as if it’s coming straight from the faucet, and no other form of hydration exists. If I were to ask anyone here if they’ve participated in Dry January and how they were doing, I could only anticipate the moans and groans I would receive in response.

Mark Mullens, a media production student at the University of Lincoln told me, “I stopped drinking for a few months a while back. I had to due to complications with my body, but it helped me realize the benefits of not drinking.”

Even if you’re a homebody like I am, it’s hard not to succumb to the pressure of going out with friends and enjoying a few drinks or trying to socialize and meet others. It’s an activity that our culture definitely enjoys. But, it can certainly have its disadvantages.

“If I had to go a month without alcohol, I’d be fine. I do it socially; it’s not something that I depend on. I could easily go out and not drink if something came up. It all centers around having self-control. 

“But drinking with close friends builds camaraderie,” Alex Brezina,  educational leadership major at NDSU, said. “It boils down to just being responsible.”

British students at Lincoln are especially amazed when we tell them that drinking before 21 is not allowed anywhere in the States. It’s something that’s hard for them to swallow, because we can do almost anything else before 21.

But quitting drinking’s not easy for people under 21, either. The main struggle I’ve come across is realizing that no matter how many times it happens, seeing friends go out to celebrate and having to stay behind at home can be heartbreaking.

It’s interesting that alcohol can have benefits too. We put that out of our minds when we over-analyze and think drinking sounds like a terrible idea. Beer, full of hops, provides a great source of vitamins and minerals derived from flavonoids, which are also commonly found in tea and coffee.

Though good and bad sides exist in everything, I think giving up alcohol for at least a month helps a person step back and realize how it can affect their life. It’s an especially interesting challenge for the average college student.

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