Dry January is a growing trend which sees people abstain from alcohol for a month. The trend is growing and, with it, the realisation that bouts of abstinence can assist with additional moderation further down the line.
After the monolithic drinking sessions that many partake in over the festive season, January can seem like the ideal time to knock the booze on the head temporarily. Whilst having a ‘dry’ 2019 might be the most beneficial, cutting out alcohol for a single month can also be good for both personal health and finances.
The post-Christmas detox – along with the New Year gym membership – is becoming ritualistic, but recent studies suggest that there are benefits to this that go beyond the month of January itself. Researchers in the University of Sussex showed that giving up the drink for the first month of the year led to a sustained decrease in alcohol even as far as eight months later, in addition to the more obvious effects such as better sleep, weight loss, increased energy, and more disposable income.
Oregon State University complements the research with their own advice – if you are planning to quit smoking, you will find it a lot easier to do if you lay off the hooch too. Meanwhile, social smokers who enjoy a straight while they’re on the pints can look forward to a month without the fags as well as the junk food that tends to accompany a night on the sauce. Social smoking can be an enjoyable and addiction-free way of smoking, but we all know that any amount of inhaling cancerous by-products is not worth the effects on your health.
Still, a dry January is no substitute for more permanent or moderated abstinences; no amount of alcohol is technically good for you, and all-in-all, it is one of the major killers on the planet, as well as being the basis for prevalent and destructive addictions and disorders. Even moderate doses – the amount most of us consume – can commonly contribute to heart disease, cancer, depression, and anxiety. There is even mounting evidence that your DNA itself is damaged from drinking.
Awareness of the dangers of smoking is currently widespread, but alcohol is not yet so obvious, and Ireland, for one, is planning on a labelling legislation that will guarantee consumer attention. With alcohol contributing to more than 200 diseases, and being responsible for over 3 million fatalities a year globally, it is a lifestyle choice that demands conscious action.
Dry January can also give us the illusion of management. Some – especially those with drinking problems – may be misled by knocking the booze on the head for a month, thinking that they can control their intake, and making them feel that they can cut down or quit any time they want.
If you do quit drinking in January, don’t consider the month off to be a success and then go back to habits as usual. Take a good look at how you feel, mentally and physically, at the end of the month, and consider changing your habits entirely. Listen to your body, it knows what’s good for you.