Wellness·6 min read

Tired Of Dry January? This Sober Curious TikTok Trend Might Be For You.

A woman drinking a glass of wine
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
January 12, 2023

In recent years, hitting pause on alcohol for a month has become pretty popular. See: Dry January, Sober October. If you want to cut back on drinking but going cold-turkey feels too intense, there's another option for you. Enter: Damp drinking or choosing a damp lifestyle.

It's a mindful approach to monitoring your alcohol consumption without cutting it out of your life altogether. And it’s all over TikTok. In the new year, Damp January — an alternative to Dry January —  became a challenge that gained more than 1.4 billion views on the platform. But it might not be for everyone. So we called up Katie Witkiewitz, director of the Center on Alcohol, Substance Use and Addictions at the University of New Mexico, to learn more about who could benefit from a damp lifestyle — and how.

What does “damp drinking” actually mean?

Damp drinking means taking a mindful approach to reduce alcohol consumption without giving it up altogether. It’s essentially drinking in moderation — something that’s been recommended for years. It’s “a time to take a look at our drinking, maybe decrease the frequency of drinking, or decrease the amount when we drink,” said Witkiewitz. The best part is: You get to make the rules, based on what feels right for you. That might look like cutting back to one drink a week, only drinking on weekends, or limiting yourself to one drink when you go out.

For anyone who’s sober curious, a damp lifestyle might be the right fit. In addition to the health benefits (more on that below), Witkiewitz says it may be a good opportunity to “just to start taking a look at your relationship with alcohol.”  

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What are the health benefits of living a damp lifestyle?

Unsurprisingly, less alcohol comes with health benefits. And if you’re coming off of a particularly heavy-drinking period (think: the holidays or a vacation), cutting back on alcohol may give your body a break. 

Witkiewitz noted that the health benefits directly reflect how much you cut back, even if you don’t eliminate drinking altogether. “The more [alcohol] you reduce, the more benefits you're probably going to see,” she said. That may include: thinking more clearly, lowering your blood pressure, and reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and accidents or injuries. Not to mention better sleep, more energy, improved mental health, and even more money in your wallet.  

The main caveat here: The health benefits only last as long as the damp lifestyle does, Witkiewitz said. So if you cut back for a couple of weeks, and return to drinking more

heavily after that, you’ll stop seeing many of the health benefits. 

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Is a damp lifestyle right for me?

If you’re not sure if damp drinking is the right fit, Witkiewitz suggests asking yourself a few questions to evaluate your relationship with alcohol and understand if damp drinking might be beneficial to you.

Questions to ask yourself before trying a damp lifestyle
Design: theSkimm

And if you try damp drinking, Witkiewitz recommends keeping a journal and asking yourself…

  • When did challenges come up? 

  • What are the situations in which you need alcohol, or more alcohol than you wanted? Example: “Were there times when you set a goal for only one drink at an occasion, but then you really wanted a second, what happened there?” she said. 

  • When did you notice improvements in how you felt?

The answers to these questions may inform how you change or maintain your drinking habits going forward. 

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I want to try damp drinking. Where’s a good place to start?

Start by setting the rules for yourself. Like in what situations you want to drink and how much. Consider what might be a trigger to avoid (like happy hours or bar dates). If you want something to sip on in the meantime, there are alternatives like non-alcoholic wine, low ABV beverages, and liquor substitutes. And never underestimate the power of a fancy ice cube to elevate your mocktails. 


There’s no shame in questioning your relationship with alcohol. If you feel like you want to cut back on drinking, you don’t have to wait until Jan. 1 to hit the reset button. And if you're not looking to cut out alcohol altogether, but you’re looking for ways to drink more mindfully, then a damp lifestyle might be the right choice for you. 

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute a medical opinion, medical advice, or diagnosis or treatment of any particular condition. 

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