Twelve years ago, I made a commitment to start January sober. No, I am not the Dry January OG, but I did start before it was a thing. A case could be made. My streak started following a routine check-up in 2008. I was a bit too honest when answering the “How many alcoholic drinks do you have every week” question. Everyone lies on this one, but I checked the max. 14+.
I was in the wine Industry at the time, where open bottles and deep conversations on styles, regions, varieties, etc. is the norm. I really enjoyed wine, not to mention beer, whiskey, and all the other great beverages of the world. I still do. 2-3 drinks a day, plus a few more on the weekend did not seem like much, but it was. My doctor was quick to point this out. I was a healthy adult, who regularly exercised and had a decent diet. If I just gave myself a few weeks to dry out it would do my liver and health wonders. Easy enough. My Dry January journey began.
It’s important to note that for many people, the idea of switching between drinking and sobriety is not an option. It's addictive. If you need additional assistance in abstaining from drinking, Julia Bainbridge provides some excellent resources in this recent New York Times piece.
From the beginning, I always stayed true the first 2 weeks. Then I would cheat a day here and there. I’d end my Dry January before January actually ended. The benefits were obvious. Weight loss, decreased appetite, improved sleep, and better skin are all reasons to skip the drinking , but habits are hard to break. I finally completed an entire month in 2015. After the month ended, I predictably returned to the mean, often making up for lost time.
By 2019, I was determined to quit the cycle and make a meaningful move towards a more sober life. I decided to stay sober during the week, drinking only on the weekends.
It did not take long to be really bored with my options. Like most people, I stocked-up on tea, sparkling water, and kombucha to get through Dry January. 31 days is one thing, most of the year is another. They say necessity is the mother of all invention. Well I was desperate to find something that had character and complexity like cocktails and other alcoholic beverages. Most non-alcoholic beverages rely on sugar for their flavor and are too sweet. Thankfully, I knew Chef Paul Eschbach. He was just about to have a baby and was looking for the same kind of thing. Within weeks Betera was born (at least the concept), with Aaron Sanchez joining soon after.
Being sober, whether part-time or all the way has never been easier. We were proud to be listed by Forbes as one of the “Seven Non-Alcoholic Drinks to Help You Stay Sober in January.”Betera helped me stay sober for the first 70 days of 2020 and by the end of the year I was rarely drinking. I did this during the pandemic, while launching the company, and moving from Sonoma to San Diego. I learned that most of my drinking was attributed to craving a quality beverage, not the buzz. Breaking the habit of always grabbing a certain beverage during a certain time of the day was the hard part. Betera made the decision easier. To start 2021, I am the healthiest I have been in years. Great sleep, improved focus, weight-loss, and a lot more energy.
I chose to drink like there’s a tomorrow, and I encourage you to join me as well. You’ll be glad you did.
Nick Benz is the Founder and CEO of Betera