People often relax with a glass of wine after a long day of work or before a first date to calm nerves. Actor Tom Holland noticed alcohol helps him take the edge off and made him “feel more comfortable in a social environment,” he said during a podcast interview “On Purpose with Jay Shetty” Monday. But he noticed it became more of a necessity when entering a social situation.
“It just really scared me,” Holland said, reflecting on his alcohol use after undergoing Dry January by abstaining from alcohol for the month. “I felt like I couldn’t be social. I felt like I couldn’t go to the pub and have a lime soda. I couldn’t go out for dinner. I was really really struggling.”
While some people participate in Dry January for fun, others may wish to challenge their consumption, monitor sleep habits, improve productivity, or assess alcohol’s effect on their mental health.
“I would look back and recognize that I would go to events for work, and I can’t enjoy myself until I’ve had a few beers, and I just felt so much pressure,” adding that social drinking is a large part of the rugby community he was a part of.
Holland’s experience points to alcohol’s larger role in providing a social shield in public. It concerned him.
A month of sobriety can spark reflection
“It can become a very reflective moment,” Dr. Akhil Anand, a psychiatrist with Cleveland Clinic’s Drug and Recovery Center, previously told Fortune about a month of sobriety. Anand says people begin to notice when they crave alcohol. Some end up realizing they don’t need it to enhance experiences, while others feel they keep thinking about when their next drink will appear.
Holland’s experience points to a stark reality—the fear of attending events without its presence.
“I was definitely addicted to alcohol, not shying away from that at all,” the Spider Man star shares on the podcast.
As of 2022, over 60% of Americans report drinking which has stayed consistent within the last few decades, according to a Gallup poll (some estimates found alcohol consumption rose during the pandemic). Especially as people are returning to in-person work, happy hours and alcohol-centered events are becoming more commonplace.
“We live in the culture we’re involved in, whether it be at work or socially with friends, [and] alcohol is everywhere,” Anand previously told Fortune. Social drinking does not indicate alcoholism, which is often associated with craving alcohol alone and when feeling lonely. But it’s important to note, excessive alcohol consumption in any setting can lead to alcohol abuse disorder, alcohol dependence, memory problems, and mental health issues, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It can also harm relationships at work and at home.
After reflecting, Holland said he decided to “prove” to himself that he could make due without alcohol and decided to continue sobriety until his birthday six months later.
“I was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I can sleep better. I can handle problems better,” he said, adding that initially it was extremely hard.
Now, he is a year and a half in and hasn’t looked back. “It doesn’t even cross my mind.”
While dry January, dry July, or any break from alcohol doesn’t work for everyone, experts say reflecting on usage is the best way to be critical about when and how much you consume.