Time to start thinking of those new year resolutions? Well, residents across Bath and North East Somerset are being encouraged to take on Dry January and double their chances of staying alcohol free for the month, by downloading Alcohol Change UK’s free support app, Try Dry.
New research from Alcohol Change UK, the charity behind Dry January, suggests that more people than ever are planning a Dry January with one in eight UK adults aiming to reset their relationship with alcohol, after a year in which many have found themselves drinking more heavily.
Research has consistently shown that many people are drinking more heavily since the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this year. Almost one in three people (29%) who drink alcohol say they have drunk more in 2020 than in 2019, one in five (22%) have felt concerned about the amount they have been drinking since COVID-19 restrictions began in March and (23%) admit to drinking ‘to try and cope’.
Councillor Rob Appleyard, cabinet member for Adult Services, said: “We know it’s been a tough year, many of us have spent it stressed, scared and tired and have turned to alcohol as a crutch, but drinking too much can have a detrimental impact on our physical and mental wellbeing and our relationships. At a time when we really should be doing everything we can to look after ourselves, the new year brings with it not only new hope but the chance to address the bad habits we’ve fallen into.
“Cutting down on the booze brings with it huge benefits from having more energy to sleeping better, losing weight and saving money and signing up to Dry January is a great way to kick start your new relationship with alcohol.
“And don’t worry taking part doesn’t mean you can’t support your local pub or hospitality venue when restrictions allow, just choose an alcohol-free option instead of your usual tipple when placing your order.”
It’s estimated a quarter (27%) of people who drink alcohol would like to cut down in 2021 and evidence shows that Dry January is an effective and lasting way to do so; research by the University of Sussex published in 20201 found that 70% of those taking on a Dry January are still drinking less six months later – but interestingly this only applied to those who took part in the campaign with support from Alcohol Change UK, via their free Try Dry app or coaching emails.
Dr Richard Piper, Chief Executive of Alcohol Change UK, said: “2020 has been a year like no other. It’s no wonder that many of us don’t feel much like ourselves. When things get tough, we can find ourselves slipping into drinking habits we wish we could break – but Dry January can help. It’s our chance for a reset. 31 days to try something new, and to see some amazing benefits like brighter skin, a fuller wallet, a calmer mind and a better night’s sleep – and to help you drink more healthily all year round.
“It’s all too easy to bury our heads in the sand when it comes to our drinking. Our new research shows that one in three (30%) of those drinking at increasing or high-risk levels believe they don’t need to do Dry January because they drink ‘healthily’ – even though the number of units they drink is putting their health at risk. That means millions of people are putting their health at risk, but either don’t realise or don’t want to believe it. The new year is a great opportunity for us all to reassess our drinking.
“Dry January isn’t about giving something up. It’s about getting something back. Get your fun back. Get your calm back. Get your energy back. Get your you back.”
How to do Dry January:
Download the free app Try Dry: the Dry January app via the App Store or Google Play. Via the app you will be able to receive optional daily coaching emails. You can sign up for just the emails at dryjanuary.org.uk
The app allows people to track their units, calories and money saved not drinking, plus set personalised goals and earn badges year-round.
People who sign up for Dry January, whether online or via the free app, are twice as likely to spend the whole the month alcohol-free, despite being heavier drinkers to start with (de Visser and Nicholls 2020).
Dry January is endorsed by Public Health England.
Alcohol withdrawal warning
Stopping drinking suddenly can be very dangerous, and can even kill you, if you are dependent on alcohol. If, after a period of drinking, you experience any of the following symptoms, you may be dependent on alcohol and you should NOT suddenly stop drinking completely:
- seizures (fits)
- hand tremors (‘the shakes’)
- seeing things that are not real (visual hallucinations)
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
But you can still take control of your drinking. Speak to a GP who will be able to get help for you to reduce your drinking safely.
References and notes from release
1 de Visser, R. and Nicholls, J. (2020) Temporary abstinence during Dry January: predictors of success; impact on well-being and self-efficacy, Psychology & Health, 35:11, 1293-1305
The charity behind Dry January
Alcohol Change UK works for a world free from alcohol harm. We fund, commission and share research; provide information and advice; work to ensure more and better support and treatment; encourage better policy and regulation; shift drinking cultures through our campaigns; and work to change drinking behaviours. Find out more.
About the survey
The survey was carried out online by Opinium between 24 and 26 November 2020. Total sample size was 2,000 UK adults, of whom 1,230 said they were drinkers. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
Year-round healthier drinking
People who take on Dry January drink more riskily than the general population (as measured by AUDIT-C, a tool developed by the World Health Organisation). Yet six months after the challenge ends their average drinking risk score has decreased dramatically – in contrast to people who do not take on Dry January, whose risk scores remain similar.
- Drinking days per week dropped on average from 4.3 to 3.3;
- Units consumed per drinking day dropped on average from 8.6 to 7.1;
- Frequency of drunkenness fell on average from 3.4 per month to 2.1 per month.
Reference: de Visser, R. and Nicholls, J. (2020) Temporary abstinence during Dry January: predictors of success; impact on well-being and self-efficacy, Psychology & Health, 35:11, 1293-1305
Research published in 2018, conducted by the Royal Free Hospital and published in the British Medical journal, found that a month off alcohol:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Lowers cholesterol
- Reduces diabetes risk
- Reduces levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood
Reference: Mehta G, Macdonald S, Cronberg A, et al Short-term abstinence from alcohol and changes in cardiovascular risk factors, liver function tests and cancer-related growth factors: a prospective observational study BMJ Open 2018;8:e020673. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020673