© 2024 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Could a "Dry January" lead to a dry lifetime?

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

Don McLeese spent decades as a successful music journalist, and was a loving husband and father. His life worked, and worked well, until it didn't.

Slippery Steps: Rolling & Tumbling Toward Sobriety is McLeese's fourth book, and the first work that focuses inward on himself and the weight alcohol put on his life. Now 13 years sober, McLeese says the freedom from drinking has enriched his life in ways he never imagined.

River to River host Ben Kieffer talks with McLeese about his years as a functioning alcoholic, and how the worst day of his life turned out to be one of the best.

Paul Gilbert of the UI College of Public Health also joins the conversation to talk about how the "Dry January" trend can bring positive mental and physical benefits to those taking a temporary break from alcohol. These abstinence challenges can lead to moderate and intentional drinking, continued sobriety, or consideration for whether greater help is needed.


  • Don McLeese, associate professor, University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Paul Gilbert, associate professor of community and behavioral health, University of Iowa College of Public Health
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.