Dry January is coming again.
The awareness month, which promotes a 31-day alcohol-free period, was started in 2013 by the British nonprofit organization Alcohol Change. It gives companies another chance to show their support for varied talent demographics throughout the year.
Similar to factors like age, race, sexual orientation, place on the handicap spectrum, and gender, the path to sobriety can be a very individualized journey. It is a true form of inclusion and belonging work to hold space for the sober or sober-curious, yet this “invisible” demographic is frequently left out of diversity debates.
To be fair, their visibility is growing due to the annual growth of the nonalcoholic beverage sector. The most recent statistics from Nielsen IQ, collected between August 2021 and August 2022, showed a 20% rise in sales of nonalcoholic beverages. Researchers commented on the data in a statement, saying, “A few beers, shots, or cocktails were a staple of social gatherings, but in recent years, non-alcoholic beverage trends have been rising.”
Sales of nonalcoholic beer rose by almost 20% annually. Sales of nonalcoholic wine rose by roughly 14%, while sales of spirits with no proof surged by roughly 89%. Additionally, according to NielsenIQ, the sale of alcoholic beverages has somewhat declined. To put things in perspective, the percentage of nonalcoholic beer, wine, and spirits in “alcohol” sales is rather low—0.47%. “This is still a small figure, [but] this percentage share has steadily grown over the past five years,” the researchers noted.
How Companies Can Help During Dry January
Researchers at NielsenIQ observed a pattern of sober curiosity in their data sharing, emphasizing that Gen Z is generally “less interested in drinking alcohol than previous generations.” Nevertheless, they acknowledged a wider trend in which “more people [are] trying to take better care of themselves from every age and stage of life.”
There is a plethora of information available because the awareness month has been held for eleven years. Numerous best practices are provided by Alcohol Change. For instance, if a person is alcohol dependent, the organization cautions against the risks of abruptly quitting drinking. Finding nonalcoholic substitutes for beer, wine, or liquor—like mocktails—is emphasized by Harvard Medical School as being crucial.
Some advocacy organizations provide workplace training and e-learning courses on workplace accountability.
How companies may promote sobriety throughout the year
Employers can better integrate sober or sober-curious personnel by removing opportunities for “othering” or exclusion.
Office parties can be this flashpoint, according to Ashley Loeb Blassingame, the co-founder of the virtual addiction treatment platform, Lionrock Recovery. While a mocktail would not raise uncomfortable questions, a guest carrying a bottle of water would. Establishing a culture where employees do not put pressure on one another to drink is also important, according to Marc Turner, interim CEO of Gateway Foundation, a substance abuse treatment center.