When Mic Deane struck out multiple times trying to go 100 days without alcohol, she discovered the root of the problem: a lack of community.
"It's really hard to get sober without a community around you and without a community that you feel like is for you," said Deane, who moved to Vancouver from Ireland.
The 26-year-old searched online for sober events or groups in Vancouver and was "shocked" she couldn't find any.
That's why Deane, together with Zelika Brown, co-founded Sober Babes Vancouver.
The sobriety group organizes events and hangouts for women, non-binary people and members of the LGBTQ+ community who want to drink less or just make new friends.
They've hosted picnics, movie and paint nights, and brought together as many as 100 people to drag shows.
Deane says many have been following her group on social media and asking about events because of 'Dry January', when people choose not to drink alcohol between New Year's Day until Feb. 1.
She says it can be difficult for people to come up with activities that do not involve alcohol.
"For a lot of people, when they do Dry January, you've got the January blues too and you feel boring," Deane said.
"I feel like our events are going to help people."
Benefits of abstaining from alcohol
Adam Sherk, a scientist with the University of Victoria's Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, says Dry January can challenge people to think about their relationship with alcohol.
"It's something that is just so normalized in our society. It's a celebratory drug of choice, and so many people are users," he said.
"But then on the other side of the ledger, it causes a vast amount of harm."
Sherk says there are many physical benefits to abstaining from alcohol, including better sleep, weight loss, and drinking less year-round.
He pointed to research from the University of Sussex which found that seven out of 10 people continued to drink less alcohol six months later, after Dry January.
Perhaps most importantly, Sherk says, drinking less is a good thing because alcohol can cause cancer.
Alcohol has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen for decades by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, along with tobacco and asbestos. It is also a top cause of preventable cancer after smoking and obesity.
"Not many of us want to develop cancer in our lifetime and so that's kind of a good motivator toward drinking a little bit less," Sherk said.
A safe space
Deane says she is happy her group can help people this month and beyond.
"I think it's so important to have a wide variety of people that you can reach out to in those moments where you're feeling alone," she said.
She says it's also crucial to have a group that's safe for non-binary people and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Deane says she "didn't see my demographic represented" in the few Alcoholics Anonymous meetings she attended.
"It made me feel kind of alienated like I was the only young queer person doing this and so it was just really important for me to be able to create [this] space."