Jackie Nitschke Center: Dry January — a good starting point, but with caution for those facing addiction

(Green Bay, Wis.) – The New Year is here, which means it’s “Dry January,” when many people refrain from drinking alcohol for the month. Dry January has been around for nearly a decade and is becoming more popular as people stop alcohol consumption as a way to improve their health. But for someone with a true addiction, caution is urged about suddenly trying to stop drinking alcohol.

“We certainly applaud those who want to get healthy in the New Year and those who realize that too much alcohol isn’t a good thing,” said Tina Baeten, Clinical Supervisor of the Jackie Nitschke Center in Green Bay. “But, if someone is truly addicted to alcohol, there can be intense or even dangerous withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly cut alcohol consumption. For those with addictions, they need to have a plan in place, along with the proper support, to be able to reach their goal of sobriety.”

How do you know if you’ve crossed the line into alcohol addiction?  Here are a few of the warning signs:

  • You often drink more than you intend do, and over a longer period of time than you intended.
  • You have a strong desire or urge to drink alcohol.
  • Most of your activities focus around drinking; if you can’t drink you don’t attend those events or activities.
  • Your drinking is causing problems in your personal or work life.
  • Your tolerance level continues to increase; you drink more to feel intoxicated.

The Jackie Nitschke Center offers treatment, support and education to individuals and families through inpatient and outpatient services for those facing substance addictions. “A pledge of being sober during Dry January can certainly be a good place to start, but rather than going it alone and abruptly stopping drinking, we have programs that can help people navigate recovery,” Baeten said. “Getting sober is not easy and, if you have an addiction, it’s even more difficult when you try to do it on your own.” 

An estimated 15 million people in the U.S. have an alcohol use disorder, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.  It is the second most common addiction after cigarette/tobacco usage. 

“Unfortunately, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people seeking substance abuse services since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” added Baeten.  “It’s important for people to educate themselves about when they need to seek treatment and the options that are available to them.”