Health & Beauty

Dry January

A month-long booze free challenge takes place each January to encourage people to be a little more mindful of their alcohol consumption.

The Interchange spoke to Bristol working mum, Sharon Crooks, to find out how she managed it this time last year…

food hearts

A month of no alcohol, sounds easy to some and a nightmare to others. There are many different reasons people decide to embrace the Dry January challenge – which is run each year by Alcohol Change UK.

Whether it’s because you think you may be drinking too much and need to keep it in check, to help the bank balance, the waistline or even to support charity, each person’s reason is very much their own. 

72% of people who do Dry January are still drinking less six months later 

Alcohol Change UK describes Dry January as a way to ‘reset your relationship with alcohol’. Reasons to try dry include: better sleep, weight loss, improved skin, more money, get healthier and a sense of achievement. 

And the organisation knows for some it won’t be easy, that’s why there’s a free app that keeps track of things like calories, alcohol units and a tool to show how much money you’ve saved. If you sign up to the programme itself, you’ll also receive emails with tips, tricks and information from experts to make your month of abstinence more fun!

88% of participants saved money

Sharon Crooks, 42, loves nothing more than a glass of wine after a busy day of running her own business and looking after her two boys, Alex, 8, and Kit, 5. 

Sharon Crooks

“I decided to give Dry January a go because my dad does it each year and donates any money he would’ve spent on alcohol to Cancer Research. He had an aggressive form of cancer a few years ago and likes to do his bit to stay healthy and raise money. Last year I thought I’d do the same, so I gave up the wine and donated £50 of my own money to charity,” Sharon explains.

“I don’t really drink all that much – maybe five glasses a week – so I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference. But of course, it was right after Christmas, so it affected me more than I thought that it would. For the first few days I woke up every day with headaches, I thought ‘what’s the point, I feel worse’, it was like detoxing. Thankfully, a few more days after that and those symptoms disappeared.”

58% of participants lost weight

According to Alcohol Change UK someone dies every hour in the UK as a result of alcohol. Alcohol harm includes mental health problems, liver diseases, several forms of cancer, money troubles – and the issues don’t just affect the person drinking. 

The organisation is quick to explain that it’s not ‘anti-alcohol’, instead it wants people to be aware of drinking and do so as a conscious choice, not as a default to help other problems. 

“I tried to find plenty of alcohol free alternatives to drink at the end of the day, so I stocked up on really nice fruit juices and sparkling drinks that made me feel like I was still pouring myself a treat,” Sharon says. 

“My husband isn’t a big drinker, so that helped and by the end of the month I can honestly say I didn’t really miss my glasses of wine. After a while I just got used to not having it – and I lost a few pounds as well, so I felt fitter, which is always nice after Christmas!”

71% of participants had better sleep

The Alcohol Change UK website has plenty of case studies and stories about other people who’ve taken the Dry January challenge. You don’t have to raise money for charity, it might just be something you’d like to do for you, and that’s fine too.

67% of participants had more energy 

Are you taking part in Dry January? Or have you done it previously? What did you like or hate about the challenge? We’d love to know! 

For more information visit the Alcohol Change UK website.

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