Alcohol is one of the three biggest lifestyle risk factors for disease and death in the UK, after smoking and obesity. Deaths from liver disease have reached record levels, rising by 20 per cent in a decade. Research has shown that cutting out alcohol for a month can make significant health and behavioural differences.
Graham Jones, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for Public Health and Wellbeing said, “Cutting out alcohol for a month can help people re-evaluate their drinking habits long term. New research has shown Dry January to be an effective route to changing behaviour with 65 per cent of participants making a positive change to their drinking habits by drinking less, or cutting alcohol out completely.
“In addition, people cutting out booze for 31 days enjoy the benefits of sleeping better, gaining more energy and clearer skin plus saving cash. Not a bad return for a month long investment.”
Dr Helen George, GP lead for liver disease and alcohol for the four Berkshire West CCGs, said, “The health benefits of cutting out (or cutting down) on alcohol, are immense. As well as improving your general health in the short term, longer term, re-evaluating your alcohol consumption can have a far reaching effect, helping to avoid serious health conditions, such as cancer, coronary heart disease and liver disease.”
Those signing up at www.dryjanuary.org.uk can get extra support in the form of regular emails with tips, help and advice, and people can share their experience and ideas via social media. The Dry January website has lot of ideas and suggestions to help people through the month, such as delicious mocktail recipes. They can also see just how much calories and cash they are saving by using the calculator here at www.dryjanuary.org.uk/impact-calculator.
People don’t need to fundraise to take part in Dry January, although they are welcome to raise sponsorship money to help Alcohol Concern. Anyone who is worried about their drinking habits can get support and advice from their local GP surgery.
Watch a video of Dr George talking about the benefits of Dry January here: https://youtu.be/wM8ZXQut-yA
How much is too much? Know your units
Binge drinking is defined as drinking two or more times the recommended daily upper limit in any one day. The maximum recommended amount to drink each day is 3-4 units for men and 2-3 units for women. The alcoholic strength of a drink is measured in ‘units’. For example, a pint of normal strength beer (4%) contains 2.3 units, a large glass of wine (250mls) contains three units and a single measure of white spirits such as gin (37.5%), which is just 25mls, contains 0.9 units, whilst dark spirits, such as brandy and whiskey (40%) contains one unit.
A useful alcohol unit calculator is available at www.dryjanuary.org.uk/unit-calculator