Break from booze

Put down the bottle for a while and gain some perspective

Put that beer down for just a second. There’s a growing movement inspired by Dry January, which is based on the idea that laying off the bottle for a short while—like, say, a month—can reset your relationship with alcohol. William Miller, author of Controlling Your Drinking, has been arguing in favor of this approach for decades. “To practice not doing something you habitually do, it builds up your self-control muscle,” he said, “your ability to manage your own behavior.” There may be health benefits as well. In a small study of 10 regular drinkers who abstained for five weeks, researchers at London Medical School found that liver fat, an early indicator of liver damage, fell by an average of 15 percent; blood sugar, a risk factor for diabetes, fell by16 percent; blood cholesterol dropped by 5 percent; and the participants lost an average of 3 pounds. They did, however, report less social contact.