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Since its inception in 2012, millions have participated in what has become a life changing movement termed Dry January.

What is Dry January?

Dry January or Booze-free January is a public health campaign urging people to abstain from alcohol in the month of January after December excesses.

Though the campaign was introduced in Finland in 1942 with the term “Sober January,” “Dry January” was launched in the UK and trademarked by charity group Alcohol Concern (now Alcohol Change UK).

Despite being particularly practiced in the UK, Dry January has spread to North America and hopefully will extend to Africa in the future.

Why?

Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions, including: mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers; high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver; and depression [1].

In England in 2016/17, there were an estimated 1.13 million hospital admissions related to alcohol consumption (7% of all hospital admissions), 67% higher than ten years previously. In the same period there were 337,000 admissions for conditions directly caused by alcohol, 17% higher than ten years previously [2].

Also, in the UK one person every hour dies as a result of alcohol. This affects not only the individual but also their loved ones.

Impact

New research from the University of Sussex shows that taking part in Dry January has led to weight loss, better sleep and increased financial savings.

Led by Sussex psychologist Dr. Richard de Visser, the study was conducted with over 800 people who took part in Dry January in 2018. The results show that Dry January participants are still drinking less in August.

Participants have also reported a reduced frequency and quantity of alcohol consumed even several months after Dry January with the findings coming from self-reported online surveys.

According to Dr. de Visser, “The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term: by August people are reporting one extra dry day per week. There are also considerable immediate benefits: nine in ten people save money, seven in ten sleep better and three in five lose weight.

It’s worth the try

Globally, alcohol misuse was the fifth leading risk factor for premature death and disability in 2010. Among people between the ages of 15 and 49, it is the first [4].

Dr. Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK, said “Many of us know about the health risks of alcohol – seven forms of cancer, liver disease, mental health problems – but we are often unaware that drinking less has more immediate benefits too. Sleeping better, feeling more energetic, saving money, better skin, losing weight … The list goes on. Dry January helps millions to experience those benefits and to make a longer-lasting change to drink more healthily.”

Given the immense benefits of Dry January and its promise of immediate benefits, “sampling sobriety” can introduce one to a healthier lifestyle.

References

[1] Burton, R. et al. (2016). The Public Health Burden of Alcohol and the Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Alcohol Control Policies: An Evidence Review.

[2] NHS Digital (2018). Statistics on Alcohol, England, 2018.

[3] How ‘Dry January’ is the secret to better sleep, saving money and losing weight. https://www.sussex.ac.uk/news/all?id=47131

[4] World Health Organization (WHO). Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health. p. 57. 2014 ed. Available at: http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/global_alcohol_report/msb_gsr_2014_1.pdf?ua=1 (link is external). Accessed 18/1/19.