With all the festivities and over-indulgence behind us, thousands of Brits have opted to take on the Dry January challenge and spend 31 days completely booze-free. Aside from being a great way to raise money for charity however, just how much of a difference can avoiding the pub for one month make to our health and wellbeing?
Whilst some critics have argued that the campaign can be misleading because one month of abstinence can’t undo 11 months of excess, the promoters of Dry January, Alcohol Concern, have emphasised that the exercise is designed to get people thinking about their alcohol consumption and encourage them to drink less generally.
Director of Campaigns at Alcohol Concern, Emily Robinson commented:
“Many of us think the way we drink isn’t a problem but having a few beers after work or a few glasses of wine at home too often can take you over safe limits and store up problems for the future.”
In fact, excess alcohol consumption has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, liver disease, depression and dementia as well as cancer of the mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast.
One of the biggest problems is that people wrongly assume that unless they’re going out every night and getting slaughtered, that they’re not at risk. It’s very easy for casual drinkers to exceed their limit without even realising however. For example women who have more than two to three units of alcohol per day are at an increased risk of developing any of these diseases and one large glass of wine is enough to put you over that limit.
As Dry January is still a relatively new concept, there is little research to suggest the benefits of an alcohol-free month. Of the studies that have been conducted however, it has been revealed that participants lose an average of 3 pounds in weight and reduce blood glucose levels by 16% and cholesterol by 5%.
Furthermore, people taking part in Dry January regularly report being able to sleep better, having improved concentration, more energy, stable moods, weight loss, improved digestion, better immunity and even better skin.
To learn more about alcohol abuse, check out our Alcohol Knowledge Centre. If you are worried about your alcohol consumption and would like advice, please feel free to visit our Alcohol Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Page for more information. You can also contact us for more information.