As the new year begins, many of us will be thinking about how we can make improvements to our mental and physical wellbeing in 2024.
For some, cutting down on alcohol will be at the top of the list of New Year’s resolutions. And that’s where Dry January comes in.
Dry January® is a long-running international public health initiative that began in the UK in 2013.
In January 2023, Meharry Medical College signed an exclusive five-year licensing agreement with Alcohol Change UK to become the new home of Dry January® in the US.
The aim of the campaign is to encourage people to give up alcohol for the month of January to improve their health.
But what are the benefits of reducing your alcohol consumption? And what steps can you take to ensure Dry January is a success for you?
What are the benefits of cutting down on alcohol?
Past participants in Dry January have proven that there are many benefits to giving up alcohol for the month, especially following Christmas and New Year when many people overindulge.
In fact, 86% of people who took part previously reported saving money, while 70% experienced improved sleep, and 66% had more energy than before.
The CDC reiterates the benefits of reducing your alcohol intake, citing excessive drinking as being associated with numerous health problems including liver cirrhosis, various cancers, and psychological disorders.
Long-term benefits of reducing your alcohol intake include:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced risk of alcohol-related illnesses including liver disease, hypertension, and stroke
- Improved mood and memory
- Weight loss and improved weight management – alcoholic drinks are high in calories, so cutting back can help reduce your calorie intake
Please note: If you have a severe alcohol addiction, quitting drinking suddenly can have dangerous consequences for your health and can even be fatal.
For this reason, it is recommended that anyone struggling with alcohol dependency speaks to their physician first, as they will be able to provide advice and support for reducing alcohol intake safely.
How to have a healthier relationship with alcohol
Throughout Dry January and beyond, there are several ways you can cut down on your alcohol consumption and develop healthier drinking habits, including:
Monitoring your alcohol consumption
Writing down what you have been drinking over a period of a few weeks can help you gain insight into your drinking habits and make real changes.
Finding alcohol-free ways to have fun
Taking up a hobby can provide you with a new outlet for having fun, that does not involve drinking. Think about something you have always wanted to do but have never made the time for, or throw yourself into an existing hobby to occupy yourself. Learn to have fun without alcohol.
Recognising your behavior
If you know there are certain situations in which you usually drink more, consider how you might handle the situation differently next time.
Asking for help when you need it
If your alcohol consumption is having a negative impact on your day-to-day life, including your relationships, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Speak to your physician or local alcohol support service for advice and the support you need to make changes.
Alcohol testing for your peace of mind
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