Do not drink alcohol at all for 31 days: this is the first good new year resolution recommended since 2013 by the British charity Alcohol Concern UK.
As in the Tobacco Free Month in France, this initiative called "Dry January" aims to reset your relationship with alcohol after the excesses of the holiday season.
People who take part in Dry January are asked to stop their drinking for the entire month.
This resolution applies to both heavy and small drinkers. This campaign shows that there is no alcohol intake without risk to health.
Every year since 2013, millions of British people take up the challenge.
What are the benefits to observe?
A study from the University of Sussex in England published on January 2 on their website identifies the benefits of the experiment. The study explains why it is worth depriving ourselves for 31 days, and that the benefits of this challenge can be felt for several months.
The study covered 800 people who took up the challenge in January 2018.
First surprise: a decrease in consumption over the months following the challenge:
"Just spending a month without alcohol helps people drink less in the long run," said in a press release Richard de Visser, the Psychologist who coordinated the study.
Participants did not just remove alcohol from their daily lives for a month. They also drastically reduced their consumption in the months following the challenge. In August, the number of weekly days with alcohol was only 3, against 4 on average before Dry January. At the same time, participants reduced the amount of alcohol drunk on each occasion (one drink less on average). Finally, episodes of drunkenness went from 3 to 2 per month.
Money, sleep, skin, weight loss, sexual activity ...
One month would be enough to see beneficial effects on our physiology and health.
For example, 7 out of 10 people reported sleeping better and feeling better, more than half reported better concentration and 3 out of 5 people lost weight participants noticed after the experience an improvement in the quality of the skin and a loss of weight. Indeed, the alcoholic beverage acts as a diuretic and can thus cause dull skin, dark circles around the eyes and a lack of elasticity of the skin. The drink also represents calories, about seven per gram. When consumed, this results in a spike in blood sugar and insulin. If it is drunk continuously, it can contribute to the development of insulin resistance. This is one of the risk factors for steatosis, a liver lesion that stores energy and makes your liver fat.
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The challenge is also good for the wallet, as 88% of participants said they saved money.
Better control of alcohol consumption, increased energy, better sleep quality, reducing or quitting alcohol would also have beneficial effects on blood pressure and sexual function.
If you do not complete the challenge, don’t worry: you can still reap the benefits of your efforts. "It's interesting to note that these changes also affected people who did not manage to hold the whole month," said Richard de Visser. "It shows that there are benefits in just trying to meet the challenge."
Behind the "Dry January" hides another challenge: to show that we do not need alcohol to have fun, relax and meet people.
In the previous edition of "Dry January", more than 3 million British people participated in the Dry January and the initiative attracts more and more people in other countries, who all relay through #DryJanuary on social medias.
All health professionals agree that the experience is beneficial.
If you’re still looking for a New Year resolution, it seems this one is a pretty good one.
Are you ready to take the challenge? It’s now January 8. End of the challenge is February 8.
For the bravest, why not trying #DryFebruary as well?
(1) Figures provided by the British charity Alcohol Concern UK, creator of Dry January.
(2) The study of the University of Sussex in England, published on January 2nd on their website.