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2024 New Year Resolution: Dry January with Cannabis

By Danyal Swan January 3, 2024
Cannabis for Dry January

As of January 2023, 34% of Americans are trying to drink less, according to a survey conducted by NCSolutions.

Year after year, more and more look to add Dry January to their list of New Year resolutions. This annual tradition started in the UK of abstaining from alcohol for the first month of the year has gained significant popularity as people seek to detox after the holiday season and start the new year with healthier habits. This can prove difficult, however – the same study found that 93% of Americans feel drinking is a big part of the country’s culture.

Could cannabis be an alternative to alcohol in recreational states?

According to BDSA, 54% of adult-use consumers use cannabis to have fun, much in the way alcohol is used. In addition to the swath of health benefits the plant is known for, it also produces no hangover when compared to booze. Read on to learn the benefits of Dry January and how cannabis may aid the new year’s resolution.

Health Benefits of Dry January

Outside of no hangovers or drunk calls and texts, there are other benefits to participating in Dry January.

The effects of omitting alcohol short-term were observed in a study published in 2018. Researchers recruited 94 participants to abstain from alcohol use, while 47 were assigned to the control group to continue their normal alcohol use. Despite this relatively short timeline, researchers found those in the sober group:

  • Slept better
  • Reported more energy
  • Lost weight – on average, 4.5 pounds
  • Had measurably lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Had a reduction in cancer-related proteins measured in their blood

And, in a follow-up conducted 6-8 months later, the abstaining group reported significant reductions in alcohol consumption.

If Dry January wasn’t on your list of resolutions, the observations from this study may sway you. Of course, Dry January is the biggest initiative, but going sober for a month does not have to be in January, nor does it need to start on the first of the month. And just because you’re cutting social boozing doesn’t mean you can’t let loose in a different way.  

Swapping Alcohol for Cannabis, Intentionally or Not

Cannabis Mocktail Recipes for Dry Jan

There are a handful of reasons Americans are seeking cannabis instead of alcohol, according to BDSA. 67% of consumers believe the plant to be healthier than booze, while 57% state marijuana does not impair them as much as alcohol.

In January 2023, 21% of respondents to a survey conducted by CivicScience said they were using cannabis or CBD instead of alcohol for Dry January. Similarly, in a survey conducted at a medical cannabis dispensary in Berkley, CA, 40% of respondents used cannabis “as a substitute for alcohol,” 26% in replacement of illegal drugs, and 66% in replacement of prescription drugs.

And, even more compelling are the results from a 392-question survey of medical cannabis patients in Canada published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

The responses broke down as such:

  • 44% stated they decreased alcohol use over 30 days
  • 34% reported a decrease in the number of drinks had per week
  • 8% reported no alcohol use in the 30 days before the survey

Interestingly, researchers noted: “Being below 55 years of age and reporting higher rates of alcohol use in the pre-period were both associated with greater odds of reducing alcohol use, and an intention to use medical cannabis to reduce alcohol consumption was associated with significantly greater odds of both reducing and ceasing alcohol use altogether.”

Overall, the results lead researchers to conclude cannabis use “may be associated with self-reported reductions and cessation of alcohol use among medical cannabis patients.”

Cannabis for Binge Drinking and Alcohol Use Disorder – What the Research Says

Though research is preliminary and ongoing, cannabinoids have shown promise in published studies for binge drinking and alcohol use disorder.

CBD in particular has shown to help curb cravings in those with alcohol use disorder. In a meta-analysis published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, researchers looked at 26 studies whose topics included CBD and alcohol. Three categories stood out as potential benefits for those with alcohol use disorder, illustrating the need for further research: CBD caused a reduction in drinking; CBD for reduced “alcohol-related liver inflammation;” and CBD reduced “alcohol-related brain damage.”

The non-psychoactive cannabinoid also displayed curbing effects in mice. Published in Addiction Biology in 2018, researchers leveraged the two-bottle paradigm, in which two beverages are accessible to the test subjects to determine the preference between the two. The results showed that “CBD reduced ethanol consumption and preference in the two-bottle choice, significantly decreased ethanol intake and the number of effective responses in the oral ethanol self-administration, and reduced ethanol-induced relapse,” leading researchers to believe the cannabinoid could be leveraged in treating alcohol use disorders.

The Best Ways to Use Cannabis in Social Settings

There are countless ways to get a buzz with cannabis. Whether you’re reaching for THC or CBD to take the edge off, let loose, or simply enjoy yourself a little more, consider our favorite options to socialize with cannabis:

  1. Cannabis mocktails. If you want a beverage a little more uplifting than your typical sparkling water, try a DIY cannabis mocktail recipe. These marijuana-infused beverages are easy to whip up and look like some of your favorite cocktails, with the benefit of no hangover. Remember that oral ingestibles are creepers, slowly introducing effects in roughly an hour.
  2. Infused beverages. If you’d prefer to skip making your own drink, explore infused beverages instead. These drinks range from drink mixes (think liquid or powder) to premade syrups to carbonated options. Though available in limited markets (Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Nevada), infused beverages make for a great alternative to making your own marijuana mocktail.
  3.  Marijuana edibles. Edibles used to be one size fits all in terms of effect, but no longer. Targeted outcomes are all the rage, achieved with terpene blends or strain-specific options. Our favorite options are microdoses; enough THC to take the edge off, with a boost of adaptogens and minor cannabinoids for synergy. Don’t forget that edibles can take an hour or so to kick in.
  4. Flower. If you’d prefer more immediate effects, inhalation is the way to go. Flower can be trickier to use in social settings – you always want to be sure everyone around you is comfortable with the plant. In some cases, this option may be best served by using it before your outing, with a ride queued up to take you there and home, of course.
  5. Vapes. A discreet way to gain the benefits of THC, vaping is great for social settings. There’s minimal odor, and what can be sniffed out by even the most discerning nose dissipates in just a few minutes. Of course, you’ll still want to ensure those around you are comfortable with the vapor exhaled.
  6. Concentrates. A potent macrodose that many love for the caffeine-like buzz of each dab, concentrates can make a great option for socializing. Dab pens and portable rigs are the best ways to inhale these extracts in social settings, with minimal odor due to the vapors produced in lieu of smoke. As with vapes, you’ll still want to check with those around you before whipping out your handy-dandy dab pen or e-rig.

Remember, cannabis can be used on private property with the owner’s permission, not in public settings. For your state’s specific laws, head to our State Resources.

Find Alcohol Alternatives at Your Local Zen Leaf

Shop Cannabis for Dry January at Zen Leaf

If Dry January is in your cards for 2024, cannabis might be a nice social alternative. Whether you’re thinking inhalation or edibles, DIY mocktails or premade drinks, shop cannabis online or stop by your local Zen Leaf. Our trusted Cannabis Advisors are standing by to aid you in your New Year’s resolution, guiding you to the best option for your social needs.

Most importantly, make 2024 an incredible year!


  1. Alcohol use and your health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. April 14, 2022, cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm. Accessed January 2, 2023.
  2. Boyd S., Lucas P., Milloy, M-J, Walsh Z. (2020). Reductions in alcohol use following medical cannabis initiation: results from a large cross-sectional survey of medical cannabis patients in Canada. International Journal of Drug Policy, Vol. 86. doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.102963
  3. De Ternay J, Naassila M, Nourredine M, Louvet A, Bailly F, Sescousse G, Maurage P, Cottencin O, Carrieri PM, Rolland B. Therapeutic prospects of cannabidiol for alcohol use disorder and alcohol-related damages on the liver and the brain. Front Pharmacol. 2019 May 31;10:627. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.00627. PMID: 31214036; PMCID: PMC6554654.
  4. Hamelink C. (2008). Comparison of cannabidiol, antioxidant, and diuretics in reversing binge ethanol-induced neurotoxicity. Acc. Chem. Res 45 (6), 788–802. 
  5. Reiman A. Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs. Harm Reduct J. 2009 Dec 3;6:35. doi: 10.1186/1477-7517-6-35. PMID: 19958538; PMCID: PMC2795734.
  6. Sober curious nation: one in three Americans are trying to drink less alcohol in 2023 (2023). NCSolutions. ncsolutions.com/the-goods/sober-curious-nation-alcohol-survey/. Accessed December 21, 2023.
  7. Viudez-Martínez A, García-Gutiérrez MS, Navarrón CM, Morales-Calero MI, Navarrete F, Torres-Suárez AI, Manzanares J. Cannabidiol reduces ethanol consumption, motivation and relapse in mice. Addict Biol. 2018 Jan;23(1):154-164. doi: 10.1111/adb.12495. Epub 2017 Feb 13. PMID: 28194850.

Digital Content Manager for MÜV Florida and Zen Leaf Dispensaries. A cannabis connoisseur with a passion for explaining the miraculous possibility of the plant, Swan began her journey with cannabis as a recreational user and quickly realized its positive impact on her depression and severe anxiety. She joined the cannabis industry as Receptionist and MedTender and witnessed first-hand the immense potential of the plant for a wide variety of ailments, deepening her passion for alternative medicine. Swan is dedicated to self-education on the plant and sharing its potential with all. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Iowa.

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