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alcohol health alliance uk

Keep going with Dry January

Colin Shevills

Colin Shevills

Posted 19/01/21

Keep going with Dry January - that is the message from Balance as figures show more people might be taking part this year than ever before.

Alcohol Change UK, the charity behind Dry January say they saw a spike in website visits after lockdown three began on January 3. And a new survey from Public Health England has found nearly half of those who increased their alcohol intake during the second lockdown (45%) intend to reduce their alcohol intake this year.

Despite a grim start to 2021, there are important reasons to reduce our drinking in 2021 to get fit, lose weight, boost our mental health and reset our relationship with alcohol. The World Health Organisation has warned that that alcohol use can weaken the immune system against infectious diseases like Covid.

One in four (25%) people in the North East who drink alcohol were planning to take on Dry January this year, according to a survey released in December by Alcohol Change UK. The figures were even higher in the North East than nationally, where 1 in 5 drinkers (20%) are planning to take part – or 1 in 8 (12.4%) of all UK adults.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “2021 has already been a difficult year but that does not mean Dry January has to go out of the window. In fact, it is clear that lockdown might be having the opposite effect and giving people more reasons to take a break from alcohol.

“We saw in lockdown that although a worrying number of heavier drinkers were drinking more, 1 in 3 North East drinkers had either cut down on how much they were drinking or stopped . People are more aware of health risks than ever and cutting down on our drinking is one thing we can stay in control of.”

He added: “There are really good health reasons right now to be taking time off alcohol. The World Health Organisation has warned that alcohol can weaken our immune system and make people more vulnerable to Covid-19. Taking a month off can not only help our immune system but give us more energy, make us feel more positive, help us to lose weight and lower blood pressure.”

Richard Piper, Chief Executive of Alcohol Change UK, said: “Since news broke of the new lockdown, some have suggested that Dry January is cancelled but the opposite is true. In fact, more people have signed up for Dry January than ever before, and signups have continued at a boosted rate since the new lockdown was announced. Tens of thousands of people are using our free Try Dry app each day.

“Over the first lockdown, many of our drinking habits changed. Something which brought us pleasure in the past might have become a habit that no longer felt like a real choice.

“For many people who take part, Dry January isn't giving something up: it's getting something back. It's a chance to hit reset and get your energy, your calm and your time back.”

Balance with local authorities is encouraging friends, families and work colleagues across the region to take on the official Dry January. People can download free the Try Dry app to track their units, calories and money saved throughout the month, and set personalised goals throughout the year. People who download the app are twice as likely to have an entirely alcohol-free month, and to see long-term benefits.

Top tips for keeping going through Dry January from Alcohol Change UK

1. Remember the reasons you're doing Dry January: You decided to do Dry January for a reason, whether it was to boost your mood, improve your sleep, help you feel healthier, or to reset your drinking long-term, remember your reason and remind yourself when things feel tough. Maybe you could even write it down.

2. Don't listen to Twitter - most people are keeping going! Despite what you might see on social media, people aren't giving up on Dry January. You're part of a 6.5 million-strong club taking on a Dry January. Even if you do have a wobble, you can get back on track and keep going with your alcohol-free month.

3. Setbacks don't mean your Dry January is over! Even if you have found yourself reaching for a drink in the past few days, that doesn't mean your Dry January is over. Setbacks are a great opportunity to reflect. What happened? How did you find yourself in a situation that led to drinking? Could you avoid that situation, or if not what will you do next time you find yourself in it?

4. Lockdown is rubbish. But will alcohol make it better? Lots of us use alcohol as a short-term solution to our problems, numbing difficult feelings. But problems often feel even worse the next morning. In contrast, Dry January could actually make not just your lockdown, but your whole 2021 better. It's a way to get back to drinking more healthily and happily, with 70% of people who do Dry January with the support of the app and other tools drinking less six months later.

5. Download Alcohol Change UK’s free app to give you motivation: People who download the free Try Dry app are more likely to keep going to the end of the month and have long-term benefits - download it at https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january/get-involved/the-dry-january-app