By giving up alcohol for 4 weeks during the first month of the year, drinkers will hopefully be able to change their habits for the long-term, similar to the premise of October’s “Stoptober” smoking campaign, where some participants manage to quit smoking altogether after the month of abstinence.
For Dry January 2015, more than 2 million people managed to reduce their alcohol intake for the month, and it is expected that 2016 will be bigger, better, with more people getting on board, so join in and reap the rewards of giving up booze for the 31 days of January.
There are simply countless benefits from either cutting back on alcohol or stopping entirely, from weight loss to a better night’s sleep and more energy in general, to more cash to spend on other things – there is nothing to lose by taking part in Dry January 2016! The sense of achievement to be had from completing the month will be huge, and the chances will be much greater of drinking less alcohol in the future even after Dry January is over.
But don’t take it from us, NHS Choices have published the experiences of a woman named Joanna, who previously was drinking glasses of wine every night, but managed to abstain from alcohol for the entire month of January.
She says: “…After two weeks the cold turkey wore off, and the first benefits kicked in. I was in bed snoring shamelessly before 10 and was awake before the alarm at 6.15am. My skin was looking better. I had more energy, and was proud of myself for sticking at it.
“Although weight loss wasn’t a decisive factor for me, I lost 5lbs (2.3kg) in the first month and I have now lost nearly 10lbs and banished three inches (7.5cm) of muffin top from my waistline. Like many other people on Dry January’s page, my problem was the inexplicable desire to replace my evening dose of wine with snacks in front of the TV.
“Yet in the long run, less wine meant less nibbles. I realised how alcohol opened up my appetite and made me reach for those salty nibbles…”
Joanna’s weight loss is perhaps unsurprising, considering the often under-estimated calories contained in some of the most popular alcoholic beverages:
Pint of 4% beer: Equates to about 182 calories and 2.3 units of alcohol, rising depending on alcohol strength.
Small glass of 13% wine: A 175ml glass equals 159 calories and 2.3 units, varying depending on the strength of the wine (this can be anything from 11% to 16%).
Bottle of beer: A 330ml bottle contains about 159 calories and 2.3 units.
Pint of 4.5% cider: 216 calories and 2.6 units of alcohol.
A single 40% spirit: A Standard English 25ml measure has 61 calories and 1 unit. However, in Northern Ireland, a single measure comes in at 35ml and in 1.4 units.
We understand how difficult it can be to giving up alcohol, but hopefully after a heavy festive period of over-indulgence of both food and alcohol, it should make it that little bit easier to participate in Dry January.
For example, the Friday before Christmas – often dubbed ‘booze Black Friday’ or ‘Mad Friday’ is one of the busiest, hectic drinking nights of the year as Emergency Services prepare for a chaotic night. Last year saw alcohol takings surge in pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels across the country by a whopping 142%, and that’s not taking into account sales from shops and supermarkets.
Then there is Christmas Eve, Christmas Day itself, Boxing Day…and finally, New Year’s Eve! By the first day of January, some people are truly feeling the effects of the alcohol excess over the festive period and wanting to take a break for January.
For those deciding to take the plunge, here are some top tips for giving up the booze:
Initially, it is wise to avoid situations where alcohol is involved. Perhaps opt out of the weekly quiz at the pub, or persuade friends to meet up for a trip to the cinema or bowling during January instead of the usual drink at the pub.
Clear the house
Not of everything in it! Just the booze. Hide away those bottles of beer or the filled-up wine rack. By removing the temptation this will help stick to not drinking. Nobody during Dry January wants to come home from a stressful day at work and see alcohol staring back of them. Out of sight, out of mind!
Encourage a friend
Being the only one in a social circle that isn’t drinking for the first month of the year can seem daunting. Considering asking a friend if they want to take on the challenge too will make it easier to complete, don’t forget to remind them of the wonderful benefits of not drinking!
Make others aware
If someone is taking part in Dry January, they should tell friends and family about it, with the reasons for getting involved. This way, that person can share successes with the friends and family, and they will understand why that person is rejecting drinks or trips to the pub. This may even encourage someone else to give up or cut down too.
It’s amazing how much healthier a bank balance and wallet can look when there is no alcohol to be bought. A typical pint of beer can cost upwards of £4…just 5 pints in an evening can set someone back around £20! That money could be put to better use, whether it’s saving up for a holiday or an expensive pair of shoes, the extra cash will help loads!