What is Dry January?
Dry January has really gained momentum over the last few years, possibly fuelled by altering attitudes to health and fitness developed through the pandemic lockdowns. In fact, Dry January started as a health initiative by Alcohol Concern, a UK charity that has partnered with Public Health England in the past.
Data collated in December 2022 by Alcohol Change UK demonstrated that nearly 9 million people in the UK were planning to participate in Dry January 2023 and take the month off drinking.
While the value of Dry January may at first seem quite obvious, the process will have differing impacts on individuals taking part. Everyone begins in a different place and will go through a variety of experiences during Dry January.
However, there are some definite advantages, highlighted in recent studies, that reveal how people can really boost their quality of life with an activity like Dry January.
Does Dry January work?
A study by the Royal Free Hospital in London and published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that a month off alcohol lowers blood pressure and cholesterol while reducing the risk of diabetes and levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood.
Plus, there is evidence to suggest that the real benefits of Dry January occur after the month is finished. Research carried out by the University of Sussex discovered that six months on, around 70% of people who participated in alcohol reduction for the month were drinking more healthily over the rest of the year.
A unit of alcohol is usually between 10ml to 80ml of pure alcohol; this is the amount an adult’s liver can process in one hour. The UK Government suggests that if you want to support better health and wellbeing, it is advised not to drink more than 14 units in one week.
It’s always important to take the steps that feel comfortable for you and your individual situation. If you want to cut down a little alcohol or reduce by a larger proportion for a while, then it has to be what feels good for you at that point in time.
What are the benefits of Dry January?
With more research becoming available than ever before around the health benefits of reducing alcohol consumption, it’s fair to say there seems to be a whole range of positives to consider.
Reduced alcohol consumption can promote improved sleep patterns, help with weight loss and create positive impacts around relationships – both at home and at work.
The benefits of reducing alcohol consumption are significant, not only the way you feel inside, but also in terms of greater financial savings, more collaborative social behaviour and better physical energy.
In the first week, you might notice you have more energy and improved concentration. You may also gain some quality sleep. Then, during the second week people often report the ability to think more clearly and experience less acid reflux or heartburn.
What’s astonishing are the noticeable effects at the one-month mark. After this amount of time, your risk of developing certain cancers, including two of the most common worldwide – breast and colorectal – is diminishing.
According to a 2018 Lancet report, reduction in your drinking will also help lessen your risk of strokes and heart disease, plus it could increase your life expectancy.
Alcohol free social benefits
Then there’s the social dimension to assess. When out for a meal, for example, the price of a bottle of wine will substantially increase the bill cost – sometimes by almost double. You also won’t be able to drive so the cost of public transport or a taxi to safely get yourself home will add to the overall costs for the evening.
Avoiding alcohol or drinking less can help reduce the prospect of a heavy head and lethargy the next morning; something which can really take the spark out of your day.
There’s also a reduction in the possibility of having to experience ‘hangxiety’, a new term for that creeping feeling of worry the next morning after a night of drinking that perhaps something was said or done you now may regret.
There is growing evidence that, in fact, expanding numbers of people, particularly younger groups, are turning to low or no alcohol products on a more regular basis.
Some data research published in The Morning Advertiser reinforces this with the statistic that 32% of UK drinkers in 2022 ‘semi-regularly’ consume low and no alcohol products, compared to one in four (25%) in 2020.
Low and no alcohol products are really taking off in supermarkets aisles and in pubs, bars and restaurants. There is now so much choice on offer that you have so much more freedom to select reduced alcohol drinks without much hassle at all.
It’s also true to say that low and no alcohol drinks manufacturers have spent time in research and development to create new drinks that taste like more alcoholic versions. As a result, people can feel they are still part of the party, without undergoing negative impacts to the body and mind that many attribute to alcohol consumption.
Used in safe quantities, alcohol can be a pleasant treat to indulge in, if that’s what you’re looking for. However, replacement with low or no alcohol products is becoming more popular and could help create a healthier life.
The Taymount Team
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