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Dry January could help improve your relationship with alcohol

January 2020

Couple drinking wine
Many of us enjoy a regular glass of wine in the evenings

Whether you choose to take part or not, Dry January has become a familiar campaign at the start of every year, when various organisations encourage people to give up alcohol for the entire month.

As we get older, many of us throw off any really heavy drinking habits of our youth, but nevertheless that one drink in the evening can over time lead to two and three. Habits can form slowly but once established they are so hard to shake off.

This is why Dry January can be really useful for people who really don’t want to give up alcohol entirely.

According to Alcohol Change UK, the idea of Dry January is not only to give your body a complete rest from alcohol, but also to reset those ingrained habits of perhaps always having a drink as soon as it is six o’clock, or finishing off that bottle of wine rather than keeping it for the next day.

Alcohol Change UK is a new charity that has been formed by the merger of Alcohol Research UK and Alcohol Concern.

Alcohol Concern is not about being totally anti-alcohol; but it is aiming to help bring change in our drinking patterns. It provides some scary statistics about alcohol in this country including the fact that one person dies every hour as a result of alcohol. It seems there are nearly 600,000 people in the UK dependent on alcohol and around a quarter of adults in England and Scotland regularly drink over the recommended levels and in the figures up to 2018.

The problem is alcohol dependence can start in a small way; it doesn’t have to involve excessive levels of drink. If perhaps you find that you ‘need’ to share a bottle of wine with a partner or friend most nights of the week; or always go for a few of drinks after work just to unwind, this could itself affect your long term health. It could also lead step by step to a gradual dependence on alcohol, making it hard for you to enjoy yourself without having a drink.

This is why Dry January is supported by many organisations, as it can break that habit and help people to have a better relationship with alcohol.

A break from alcohol is pretty good for your health for lots of reasons. Alcohol is full of calories, so giving up for even a couple of weeks will help reduce your non nutritious calorie intake. You might find that even in a short time your skin looks better and your sleep improves. Abstaining from alcohol for a spell will also help your liver return to good health.

Also, if you drink regularly, both your body and your brain build up a tolerance to alcohol; and this means there will be a temptation to drink more to achieve the same results. By taking a complete break from alcohol, your body can help reset itself.

If you don’t fancy Dry January, then a personal goal of no drinks two or three days a week is a good alternative. It doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves; alcohol is very much part of the British social fabric; but a few days without alcohol will give our bodies a real boost... and save us quite a bit of money as well!

There is a lot of information on line about Dry January and alcohol in general, including at:
https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/dry-january-joannas-story/

https://alcoholchange.org.uk/

https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/mental-health/alcohol-dependence/



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