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Time to be sober as celebrations get over

The holidays for Christmas and New Year are over and people are trying to pull themselves out of the celebration mood. One very common thing regarding New Year is making New Year resolutions, but not many people are able to stick to them. However, when the resolution is related to health, one should make an extra effort to adhere to it. One such health-related resolution can be abstinence from alcohol.

In 2011, Alcohol Concern, a national charity organization in the United Kingdom, coined the phrase “Dry January” that encouraged people to ditch their hangover after Christmas and quit alcohol for 31 days. Over the past five years, Alcohol Concern’s flagship concern is encouraging people to ditch their hangover, save some money, and reduce their waistlines.

The campaign seeks to change people’s mindset regarding alcohol and aims at encouraging people to reduce drinking during the first month of the year. Supported by Public Health England since 2015, the campaign has gained momentum over time and a YouGov survey in February 2016 revealed that 16 percent adult population in the U.K. had attempted the challenge.

Benefits of Dry January Campaign

There are various health benefits associated with giving up alcohol. However, there are other benefits as well. Alcohol-free days offer the opportunity to save money, to have fewer wasted weekends and have a huge sense of achievement. As per a research by the University of Sussex in 2016, 72 percent people who tend to go dry for the entire January drink less in the six months that follow.

In 2013, at the University College London Medical School, journalists from the New Scientist along with researchers from the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health investigated the results of month-long abstinence from alcohol. As per the findings, on an average, Dry January led to a decrease in liver fat by 15 percent. They also found that opting for a dry month helped drop blood alcohol level by 5 percent, drop blood glucose level by 16 percent on average, an average 1.5 kg reduction in weight and on a scale from 1 to 5, increase sleep quality from 3.9 to 4.3.

While there has not been a scientific study examining the long-term health effects of giving up alcohol for a month, people abstaining from alcohol, as part of the campaign, have reported short-term benefits like better sleep, better mood and weight loss, among others.

Campaign pitfalls

While the Dry January campaign seems to be going strong, as per some, promoting alcohol abstinence for a month might lead to excessive drinking throughout the year. Similar to crash dieting, abstinence from alcohol for a month might also result in a speedy return to drinking in excess and an increase in drinking habit or binge drinking among moderate drinkers due to a long-term abstinence from alcohol.

As per Ian Hamilton, a lecturer at Department of Health Sciences, York University, a better option could be having alcohol-free days each week. Researchers also state that attempts to give up alcohol for a month might be damaged by a partner who does not believe in it. According to a survey involving 2,000 couples, only 57 percent participants were ready to reduce their alcohol intake to help their partners in cutting down drinking.

While the critics of Dry January stress on the limited scope of the campaign, it is important to understand that alcoholism is a mental illness and to abstain from it, one needs to understand the factors contributing towards alcoholism.

Recovery and rehab

While it is true that abstinence from alcohol often resulted in less social contact, benefits from its abstinence often overtake its shortfalls. If you know someone battling an addiction to alcohol, it’s time to get professional help. Contact the 24/7 Recovery Helpline to find the best alcohol abuse treatment centers in the U.S. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online to know about various treatment centers for alcohol addiction available in your vicinity.

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