Dry January Isn’t Enough: Try Alcohol-Free For 12 Weeks (Not 30 Days)

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Dry January, Sober October, and other 30-Day Alcohol-Free challenges are all a great way to start. But keep going if you truly want to transform. There is something extraordinary about challenging yourself to go 12 weeks without alcohol — with God at the wheel.

For those doing these challenges without a faith-based approach, the choice generally entails the reliance on the power of your own will instead of God’s will.  Generally this process doesn’t provide the reflection and staying power that is needed to have a true shift in the way you feel about using the substance. Another Dry January recently finished, and statistics show many are back to beer and wine routines (and many times drinking more than before!) by March. In fact, a recent 2021 study revealed that alcohol intake often increases after a month of abstinence. Time Magazine shares that “research found that casual drinkers felt that they could drink in excess during other periods of the year because of their participation in Dry January” (Check the full article out here: https://time.com/6552262/dry-january-origins-alcohol-drinking/). 

If you have done a 30-day challenge and succeeded, you may have felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment when you reached the midnight hour of your last day. Congratulate yourself because this is a great achievement!  For many, though, as time goes on beyond 30, those familiar temptations arise. Many find themselves quickly sliding right back into their formidable drinking woes and can forget that God has other plans for us that are so much more than our alcohol habit: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

Harnessing commitment for a 12-week alcohol-free challenge instead of a 30-day one, with God front and center, is about taking a journey with the power of the Holy Spirit into self-discovery, healing, and meaningful connection. Compared to 30-days, a 12-week alcohol-free challenge is like choosing a marathon over a sprint. In 1 Corinthians 9:24 (NIV) Paul encourages us to “run the race to win.” It’s about building endurance. When you give up alcohol for 12 weels, you’re giving your body, mind, and soul a break to a level where you can truly reset and reap the benefits. It’s not just about the initial detox and the immediate short-term glow. It’s about allowing enough time to elapse to adapt to a life that is lived with freedom and without the psychological slavery of an alcohol habit. This approach opens some real space for spiritual growth when we realize that true transformation and endurance come from a place of faith and surrender, rather than just personal willpower.

Over the course of 12 weeks, you can experience improved sleep patterns, reduced stress levels, increased finances, better mental clarity, more confidence in yourself and deeper relationships. Many even lose weight and notice better overall health. This 12-week timeframe also offers a more profound opportunity to reflect on these benefits as well as identifying the operating system that is/was on auto-play in your mind.  Understanding your relationship with the substance and the reasons behind your drink choices come to light much more profoundly than when blasting through thirty days with willpower alone.

Most importantly, placing God at the helm is the most essential part of this journey. This reliance on our Heavenly Father can provide a profound sense of peace and purpose, making the challenge less about what you’re giving up and more about what you’re gaining as you learn to follow Him. This is about learning that you have a choice in living a life free with Him. When you begin your 12-week journey, you take a leap of faith, trusting that God indeed does have a better plan for you, one that you can be excited to see, participate in and experience.

When you commit to 12 weeks, you start to see the fruits of your labor. You experience first-hand those promises. You have the ability to compare these two worlds: the emptiness and troubles of a life worshiping alcohol or the incredible rewards and fulfillment of a life spent following God.

The unfolding 12-weeks free from alcohol encourages us to run the race for the prize as we discover the countless gifts and rewards from this experience, many times that were not expected. These surprises are blessings that nurture and inspire this journey. Spending time in God’s Word helps us discover all the ways God is there to help us and give us strength (Timothy 1:7: “for God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity”) and shows how God has equipped all of us with what it takes to run the marathon, and how He gives us what we need for long-term success (1 Corinthians 10:13: “God will not ask you to bear more than you can handle”).

Ultimately, a 12-week timeframe with God as the central focus gives you the opportunity to experience the full range of life’s ups and downs without alcohol while leaning on your faith to navigate those challenges. Living alcohol-free for 12-weeks is about building a foundational framework of trust in God’s plan for you. Sustainable, healthier lifestyle choices and a deeper connection with God are just a beginning. God has a plan for all of us, and setting aside alcohol for 12 weeks enables the bud of that promise to blossom.

If you are having difficulties staying on course towards alcohol freedom, make sure to get your copy of The Plans He Has For Me Daily Devotional and check out the Choose Freedom Program at https://theplanshehasforme.com/individual/.  You will also find licensed counselors, coaches and organizations to deliver the program under Organizations.  This program, in combination with using the daily devotional, will help you stay the course by delivering the 12 most important biblically based concepts for freedom from alcohol and other toxic substances.