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Everything you need to know about Dry January – before February!

What is it?

Dry January is a month-long challenge of voluntarily foregoing alcohol consumption.  Some people view it as a time to reset and even test one’s reliance on alcohol.

How did it get started?

A British charity, Alcohol Change UK, kicked off the first Dry January campaign in 2013.  According to their website, the idea for Dry January was sparked by an employee/marathon runner’s experience with giving up alcohol for a month originally for training purposes.

Publicity surrounding the month-long event started modestly with radio advertisements in 2015, which grew slowly to include a Try Dry app and podcast by 2019.  Now social media coverage has made it a worldwide event with millions of people taking part in the challenge.

Why are people interested in it?

Dry January ignited a debate about possible health benefits related to giving up alcohol for just one month of the year. Could this relatively brief hiatus in alcohol consumption result in meaningful health benefits? The first scientific article supporting the positive effects was published in 2013 in New Scientist. The study’s findings were simple:  less liver fat, less cholesterol, and less weight- at least in the short term.

Since this initial publication, several additional studies have been conducted and the list of health benefits has only grown. A 2018 study published in BMJ Open followed 94 volunteers who agreed to abstain from alcohol for one month and a control group of 47 individuals that would continue to consume alcohol. The study found that abstinence from alcohol for moderate to heavy drinkers resulted in improvements in insulin resistance (a marker for type 2 diabetes), blood pressure, body weight, and a decrease in cancer-related growth factors.

More research published in 2019 from the University of Sussex which was conducted with over 800 Dry January participants found that participants were still drinking less in August.  The findings also created a long list of incredible other benefits:

What a list!

It’s not too late.

Yes, January is almost over, but you can still start today- continue for 30 days regardless of the calendar month. Start a Dry February movement!

For help getting started or continuing with Dry January, there are many free podcasts and articles that can provide you with inspiration and motivation.

If you are struggling with alcohol use disorder, reach out to Beat Addiction Recovery here.

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