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Dry January: A month without alcohol to improve your health

  •   3 min reads

This movement called Dry January is supposed to help people improve their health by stopping alcohol during a month. But do people do it seriously or just as a game? And what are the advantages?

Last weekend of January is finished! It was probably the most difficult of the month. One more day and you can open that beer waiting for you in the fridge. But are people aware of all the advantages of doing this challenge before jumping on an alcohol bottle the 1st of February? The Dry January is a challenge created around 2013 by the Alcohol Change UK, an alcohol concerned organization. A movement spread by word-of-mouth; the goal is to spend the entirety of January without drinking a single drop of alcohol. They even developed an app called Try Dry to help people respect their engagement. This weekend, as the last of January, had to be the most complicated to spend. But it sounds like a good start for a new year, and Alcohol Change have proved that stopping alcohol is full of benefits.

In fact, according to their website, 86% of people who stopped alcohol save money, 70% have better sleep and 66% have more energy.

We can easily see the economic advantages in stopping spending money in pubs and clubs. But, according to them, people are even more efficient in their work, they have more energy and are even calmer.

Research published in 2018, conducted by the Royal Free Hospital and published in the British Medical Journal, found that a month off lowers blood pressure, reduces diabetes risk, low cholesterol and reduces levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood.

Alcohol: a British issue

The fact is that alcohol is a huge problem in the UK. During Covid and lockdown, it got worse. A drinking tradition called the binge-drinking is very dangerous among young people in England. This practice consists in drinking a huge quantity of alcohol in a very short period. In 2014, a documentary about drinking culture in UK called A Royal Hangover was published to face this societal issue.

It causes a lot of diseases in UK, especially liver diseases. Since 1970 it has increased to 400%, according to British Liver Trust. Among all liver diseases, 90% of liver diseases are preventable. On this website we can read that 1/5 adults drinks in a way risking contracting a liver disease.

A lot of people use alcohol as a self-medication for shyness, anxiety, lack of confidence… Even if drinking provokes a happy feeling and gives confidence and joy, there is also very bad effect on mental health. After the chill out effect, you usually feel worse than before. This phenomenon is called the “hangxiety”.

To cut a long story short: alcohol can make mental health worse even though you are drinking to make it better. People must keep in mind that drinking causes chemical changes in the brain. Moreover, according to this website, a regular consumption of alcohol reduces serotonin in your brain, a happiness neurotransmitter.

But we can read on the Alcohol Change website that “the real magic happens when Dry January is over”. Research conducted by the University of Sussex shows that 6 months after Dry January, 70% are still drinking more healthily.

In 2022, according to Morning Consult, 1/5 adult says they are doing Dry January. But apparently, even if more and more people do it - up by 13% on the past year - it is more a game than a real aim.

Just a game?

39% of people who hear about Dry January are doing it, and 77% of those who said they did it last year are doing it again now. But still, according to a Morning Consult survey, only 52% completely stopped drinking alcohol. 23% drink only a few days in January and 24% will drink more than a few days but less than the rest of the time. 99% of Dry January participants this year say they do it to be healthier, while 70% say they are trying to cut down on drinking and 62% want to reset their drinking in the new year.

Dry January is obviously an opportunity for the non-alcoholic beverage market. Indeed, some other organizations use free-alcohol beverages to help people to slow down their alcohol consumption. When we have a look on Twitter, we can find the Club Soda’s page beside the Alcohol Change page. At the beginning, Club Soda was a small Facebook group. Now, according to their website, tens of thousands of people discover a better way of living after slowing down or leaving alcohol. They created a community to raise awareness around the risk of alcohol with medical research. Recently, they opened a free-alcohol drinks shop in the centre of London, where they organize testing events and masterclasses around soft drinks.

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