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Editorial: Dry January – Cochrane Today

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After a few weeks of indulgence during the holiday season, it's likely many Cochrane residents are currently partaking in the recent trend known as 'Dry January' – a month-long commitment to abstaining from alcohol. 
The January objective of temporarily giving up drinking has caught on across Canada in recent years, alongside other pledges like 'Vegan-uary.' These brief abstinence commitments are in line with the idea behind New Year's resolutions and starting a new year off on a fresher, healthier foot. 'New year, new me,' as the adage goes.
Booze is still, by far, the most popular and normalized drug in modern society (though some studies claim alcohol's popularity could be decreasing among the younger Generation Z). While cannabis has been legal across Canada for nearly five years now, the psychoactive plant doesn't share nearly the same level of social acceptance as booze. 
For people who are not drinking alcohol (whether it's for health, religious, personal, or other reasons), the holidays can be a tough period to navigate. Depending on the circles you run with, alcohol can be a nearly ubiquitous addition to social gatherings in late December, whether it's a company Christmas party, family reunion, or New Year's Eve party. There can be increased social or peer pressure to imbibe during this time of year. 
That's a shame, because it should be no one's business why someone chooses not to drink alcohol and they shouldn't feel ostracized for not doing so. They could be pregnant, recovering alcoholics, practicing Muslims, trying to be healthier, or simply don't enjoy the taste. 
Studies show there are plenty of reasons for someone to want to reduce their alcohol consumption, such as improving their sleep, mental health, and energy. While alcohol can be a great social lubricant, it really doesn't serve any physical benefits, especially if consumed in large doses. 
Though admittedly gimmicky, pledges like Dry January can provide a great way for people to reconsider their current relationship with alcohol, not just for January but year-round. 
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