Every January, brave men and women around the country decide to go cold turkey and give up alcohol for the entire month.
Alcohol Concern’s Dry January is now in its fifth year and, last year, 1 in 6 of us took up the challenge and noticed improved health and wellbeing.
Joanna Simons, Chief Executive at Alcohol Concern, says: “As the festive season draws to a close, we’re urging people to get their 2017 off to a positive and healthy start by signing up to Alcohol Concern’s Dry January.
“By signing up with Alcohol Concern, receiving the support and information throughout the month means it’s more likely you’ll complete the month booze-free, and cut down your drinking longer term. Even people who have slipped up once or twice throughout the month were consuming less alcohol six months after the campaign.
“Our new app, Dry January and Beyond, is a great visual reminder to stay Dry throughout the month, while seeing how many calories and how much money you’re saving.
“Having the break from alcohol during Dry January allows us all to think about what we’re drinking, break those bad habits and in the long term cut down and improve our health.”
What health benefits can you expect from a Dry January?
According to Alcohol Concern, these were the main health (and financial) benefits experienced by those who took part last year:
- Weight loss: 49% of people lost weight over a month of no alcohol. A glass of wine has the same number of calories as a piece of chocolate, and a pint of lager has the same calories as a packet of crisps, according to NHS stats. The average wine drinker can consume an extra 2,000 kcal per month, while five pints of lager a week is equal to 44,200 kcal a year or an incredible 221 donuts!
- Better quality sleep: 62% of people slept better. In the course of a night, we usually have six to seven cycles of REM sleep, leaving us feeling refreshed. But if you’ve been drinking, you can have only one or two cycles and might wake feeling exhausted. Not to mention having a broken night with a trip to the toilet and snoring.
- Spend less: 79% of people saved money.
- Cut down or stay dry: 65% of participants had sustained reduced levels of drinking six months after completing Dry January, while 8% of people stayed dry.
Added to this is research on the lasting benefits on your body of having a month off from alcohol:
- In 2015, the Royal Free Hospital in London found that a month off has a positive impact on blood sugar levels, blood pressure and the liver. Heavy drinking is known to cause high blood pressure and cholesterol and raise the risk of type 2 diabetes, while 20% of drinkers will develop liver problems that could kill them.
Professor Kevin Moore, a liver specialist at the Royal Free London NHS Trust told the Daily Mail: “Our research on people drinking an average of 35 units a week has shown that going dry for just one month decreases liver stiffness [a sign of damage], by 10-15% and leads to significant reductions in weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin resistance. So it is well worth it.”
- Research from the University of Sussex in 2016 also found that 1 in 4 Dry January participants reported an improvement in wellbeing.
Alcohol Concern’s Dry January campaign is an opportunity for social drinkers to reflect on their drinking patterns and to give their body a break from alcohol after the festive period. For more information about how to sign up and to download the app, visit www.dryjanuary.org.uk
Are you giving up alcohol this January? Tell us how it’s going in the comments box below