Dry January

Can you go 31 days Alcohol free?

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. Alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among 15-49 year-olds in the UK, and the fifth biggest risk factor across all ages.

What is Dry January?

Dry January is a campaign by Alcohol Concern which encourages social drinkers to give up alcohol for the month of January.

Giving up the booze for the first month of the year is a fairly recent phenomenon, and like most social trends no one is quite sure who started it and why.

What we do know is that the phrase dry January was coined by Alcohol Concern back in 2012 when it launched its flagship campaign to encourage people to ditch the hangover after Christmas and quit the booze for 31 days. 

Participating in Dry January enables you to take control of your relationship with alcohol and also drives a conversation surrounding alcohol. Why do we drink it, what does it do, and how can we reduce the harm it can cause?

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.

Here are some hints and tips to help get you through: 

Avoid bars

It goes without saying, but nothing is going to make you crave alcohol more than being surrounded by other people who are drinking. If you normally meet up with your friends in the pub, why not suggest a cafe, the cinema or museum. You never know, you might not miss that wonky old pub stool. 

Non-alcoholic tipples

If you can’t avoid a trip to the pub remember major pub chains stock non-alcoholic beer – especially at this time of year as customers try to keep on the straight and narrow. 

Have a tonic without the gin – they’re something about the comforting about taste of the tonic that can almost fool you into believing you’re having a Proper Drink. Almost.  

If you’re one of the millions who have banished the booze this month – here’s how you’ll be benefiting:

Research from the Royal Free Hospital says a month off the booze improves concentration, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and is of course, good for the liver.

Having more energy, sleeping better, having clearer skin and losing weight are also among the benefits cited by those who took part in the challenge.

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!

As well as the abundance of health benefits, there’s the money you’ll save (which in January is always welcome), not to mention fewer wasted weekends nursing hangovers and the sense of achievement come February 1.