The new year brought on resolutions for many Americans, and for some, it meant the start of Dry January. The month-long sober period where Americans abstain from drinking alcohol has become all the rage, and CivicScience’s yearly tracking predicted a big year for participation. Data showed that 27% of U.S. adults 21+ were ‘very likely’ to cut out alcohol in January, and another 22% said they were ‘somewhat likely’ to do so – both figures up from 2023. 

Fast-forwarding to now, how many people actually followed through with Dry January? And, will it lead to a permanent shift in drinking habits? Here’s what CivicScience data says:

1. A quarter of Americans 21+ participated in Dry January.

Among those 21+ who drink alcohol, a whopping 25% report they successfully completed Dry January – just shy of the 27% who were ‘very likely’ to participate ahead of the event. This figure also surpasses the 16% who avoided alcohol during Dry January 2023.

High completion rates were spearheaded by younger Americans this year. Thirty-five percent of Gen Z aged 21-24 successfully completed Dry January, more than double the percentage of Americans 55+ (14%).

Join the Conversation: Did you participate in “Dry January” this year?

2. How did they fill the void?

Cutting out alcohol meant filling the void in other ways for some Americans. Those who participated in Dry January were most likely to replace alcohol with soda / seltzer products (22%), and cannabis/CBD products came in at a close second (19%). Other alcohol replacements included mocktails (14%), non-alcoholic beer (12%), and kombucha (5%) – with mocktails being a Gen Z fan favorite. However, the majority of Dry January participants answered ‘none of the above / I did not replace alcohol with anything’ (56%). 

3. Will Dry January lead to a lasting shift in alcohol consumption?

Prior to Dry January, participants reported a wide range of drinking habits. In 2023, 37% said they averaged 1-2 drinks per week, 31% had 3-5, and 32% averaged 5+ drinks in a week. 

That said, will they revert back to their normal drinking habits? It’s looking like most say they aren’t going back to how much they drank before Dry January. New CivicScience data show that just 28% of those who avoided alcohol in January will return to their normal drinking habits, whereas the majority plan to reduce their intake or cut out alcohol altogether. Thirty-seven percent plan to drink less, but not cut it out completely. This stands only a couple of points higher than the 35% who’ve decided to cut alcohol out altogether.

Perhaps this is the result of the health and wellness benefits of not drinking alcohol, such as better sleep, weight management, and avoiding a bad hangover.

Despite high participation from Gen Z, they are the most likely age group to return to their normal drinking habits (41%), but still, the majority plan to reduce their alcohol consumption in some capacity. Conversely, adults 45+ are half as likely as Gen Z to return to their pre-Dry January drinking habits. 

Answer our Polls: Do you think Dry January is effective?

While Americans are still fresh off of Dry January, it’s evident that the month-long sober period has already made some mindset shifts for consumers. Many believe they’re far less likely to return to their pre-Dry January drinking habits, and they could continue to fill the void with other non-alcoholic beverages or cannabis. Sober spaces at venues, mocktail menus at restaurants, and a growing interest in sober lifestyles are just a few examples of alcohol-free trends that are already taking shape.

If you’re interested in learning how your customers are responding, or want to learn how you can tap into CivicScience’s InsightStore™ platform of over five billion responses, contact us here. Also, if you’re a reporter interested in seeing more insights like these for your pieces, contact us here

Note: This post is not to be confused with the official Dry January program, which has more comprehensive protocols.