Dry January 2021
Alcohol is linked with more than 60 health conditions, including liver disease, high blood pressure, depression, seven types of cancer; it is also the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability.
Current recommendations are to drink no more than 14 units per week, spread over three or more days, and with at least two days off. However, many people do not follow the guidance and a lot more alcohol is consumed.
Dry January is an annual movement run by the charity Alcohol Change UK through which millions of people give up alcohol for the month of January. The idea for the Dry January campaign was born in 2012 when several people working for the charity began to think about their drinking habits and the benefits of having a break from drinking, especially after Christmas.
The first Dry January started in 2013 with 4,000 people. A debate about the usefulness of giving up alcohol for a month ensued and alcohol behaviour-change expert Dr Richard de Visser from the University of Sussex volunteered to survey those taking part in Dry January to study the effects. Six months after the campaign finished, seven out of ten people were found to have continued to drink less riskily than before.
Over the next few years, more and more people took up ‘Dry January’ and in 2019 the new app Try Dry was launched. Independent research by the University of Sussex in the same year compared Dry January participants to a control group and added to evidence which shows that Dry January participants are still drinking less even six months after the challenge.
Thinking about your drinking?
Many people feel like they are drinking a bit too much, or too often; or could just do with some time off. A month off is the perfect way to reset your relationship with alcohol. Research shows that it only takes three weeks to break a habit, so this could be your route to happier, healthier drinking long-term.
Reasons to try Dry January
A month alcohol-free has a lot of benefits: research published in the British Medical Journal in 2018, found that a month off alcohol lowers blood pressure, reduces diabetes risk, lowers cholesterol, and reduces levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood. According to Professor Kevin Moore, Consultant in Liver Health Services, University College London Medical Centre, stopping drinking for a month alters liver fat, cholesterol and blood sugar and helps them lose weight.
Giving your body a break from booze for a month is great but the real magic happens when Dry January is over. Independent research conducted by the University of Sussex with over 800 Dry January participants showed that Dry January participants are still drinking less even six months later.
Being alcohol-free for 31 days shows us that we do not need alcohol to have fun, to relax, to socialise. This means that for the rest of the year we are better able to make decisions about our drinking, and to avoid slipping into drinking more than we really want to. Dry January is an excellent way of learning what your habits are and how to break them, enabling you to cut down longer-term.
You can take a month of alcohol anytime and there is support available:
- Download the free app to track your month off including your units, calories and money saved, and give you some motivation every day.
- Check out the Dry January blog for lots of tips and tricks for a dry month.