Dry January: the super beneficial and lasting effects of a month without alcohol

We are talking more and more about Dry January and rightly so. Indeed, many of us enjoyed many glasses of wine, beer, champagne during the winter holidays. So, in January, we may feel the need to take a break from alcohol. The Dry January, “dry January” or “January without alcohol” is the best choice we can make for our health, conclude British researchers.

Dry January is an initiative launched by the charity Alcohol Change United Kingdom, which encourages people to try giving up alcohol for a month at the start of the year. Although the charity promoting this effort is based in the UK, thousands of people around the world pledge to take part in this campaign every year.

It is quite logical to assume that giving up alcohol for 31 days can only be beneficial to health. Because regular alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for cancer, liver disease and cardiovascular disease, among others.
However, a study by researchers at the University of Sussex in Falmer, UK, shows how skipping alcohol for a month can improve your life and concludes that these benefits are long-lasting.

Dry January: more energy and less weight

This research, led by Dr Richard de Visser from the University of Sussex, found that people who took part in Dry January in 2018 reported higher energy levels and healthier body weight. They also felt less need to drink alcohol. Even several months after participating in this initiative.

A month without alcohol promotes long-term health

Dr. de Visser and his team analyzed the data they collected from Dry January participants in three online surveys. A total of 2,821 people responded to a survey when they signed up for the campaign in early January. During the first week of February, 1,715 participants completed a survey. Then 816 participants submitted additional data in August 2018.
Researchers found that giving up alcohol for a month helped participants reduce their number of drinking days later in the year. This number increased from an average of 4.3 days per week before participation in Dry January to an average of 3.3 days per week after.

Dry January: less excess alcohol throughout the year

In addition, people who had a month of non-drinking also got drunk much less often later in the year. Rates of binge drinking fell from an average of 3.4 times per month at baseline to an average of 2.1 times per month.
In fact, Dry January participants also learned to drink less. They went from an average consumption of 8.6 units of alcohol per day at the start to 7.1 units of alcohol per day later. “Just taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long run. Also, in August, people report one extra dry day per week,” notes Dr. de Visser.

“The immediate benefits are also considerable: nine out of ten people save money, seven out of ten sleep better and three out of five lose weight,” he adds.

However, there are also significant benefits available to those who give up alcohol for shorter periods. A month without alcohol would be better, but even less than that can still improve a person’s health, says Dr. de Visser.

Dry January: A Long List of Benefits

People who took part in Dry January last year noted many mental and physical health benefits as well as a “healthier” bank account.

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Specifically, the benefits of Dru January

– 93% of participants said they felt a sense of accomplishment at the end of the alcohol-free month
– 88% saved the money they would have otherwise spent on drinks
– 82% of participants said they were more aware of their relationship with alcohol
– 80% feel more in control of their consumption habits
– 76% understood when they felt more tempted to drink and why
– 71% of participants learned that they don’t need alcohol to have fun
– 71% said they benefited from a better quality of sleep
– 70% of respondents said they had better overall health
– 67% had higher energy levels
– 58% of participants lost weight
– 57% of respondents reported improved concentration
– 54% said they noticed better skin health

“The great thing about Dry January is that it’s not really about January. Not having drunk alcohol for 31 days shows us that we don’t need it to have fun, relax and socialise,” says Dr Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK.
This means that for the rest of the year, we are better able to make decisions about our drinking and avoid indulging in drinking more than we really want.
Many of us know the health risks of alcohol: seven forms of cancer, liver disease, mental health issues, but we are often unaware that drinking less also has more immediate benefits. Sleep better, feel more energized, save money, have better skin, lose weight…the list goes on.

A Dry January at any month of the year

So whether it’s January or later in the year, you can try swapping booze for tea, juice, or water for a month or even a few weeks. It could make you happier and healthier, and your bank account will thank you too.

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