Experts claim that maybe Dry January is not so good for the health in spite of previous estimations, since some drinkers might take the one month off alcohol the wrong way.
- The Dry January campaign was started by Alcohol Concern in the U.K.
- Annually, the project draws around 2 million participants
- The rate of heavy drinkers has doubled in the last 40 years in the U.K.
- Currently, there are 1.5 million heavy drinkers and alcoholics in the U.K.
The campaign implies the participants, who select themselves, to abstain from indulging in alcoholic beverages for one month. That is, of course, after the likely abuse on New Year’s.
The project was first started 4 years ago by Alcohol Concern in the United Kingdom, with the purpose in mind of trimming down the rates of alcohol dependency. In the U.K., as many as 1.5 million people are currently dependant on drinking or are heavy users. The rates have doubled within the last 40 years, so more organizations are trying to bring those numbers down.
According to the CEO of Alcohol Concern, Jackie Ballard, there is growing evidence that one month off alcohol can be beneficial to the body. And each year, around 2 million people are encouraged to stay away from booze for one full month at the beginning of the year. As stated by Ballard, this has exceptional benefits for each individual’s health, as well as having a positive impact on overall alcohol consumptions.
However, that might not necessarily be the case. The fact that the event is popular enough to draw millions of people might not indicate that it’s effective, according to Ian Hamilton, a lecturer from York University. It’s possible that Dry January has unintended consequences, starting from the mistake that it does not make itself clear on who is targeting.
When discussing problems of alcohol consumptions with people of different ages, the message should be different. A 25 year old will view and engage in social or abusive drinking different than a 65 year old. That places the entire campaign under the peril of not getting its message properly sent out.
Another reason could be that the project doesn’t fully emphasize its targeted audience. It’s mainly directed at social drinkers, who could benefit from the sudden cut off. Since the participants select themselves, only those with a very low health risk could end up being part of the campaign. However, the issue appears in the case of those who suffer from addiction.
The Dry January campaign could potentially bring forth an “all or nothing” approach, which could be dangerous for alcoholics. It could cause seizures, and the sudden stop is not recommended without the supervision of a medical professional. Thus, while the message will be heeded, it could also endanger the health of participants.
Furthermore, Hamilton stated that it might also be taken as an excuse to continue binge drinking once February comes around. Abstaining for one month might offer the wrong perspective that all will be fine for the rest of the year. And not all would understand that it’s definitely not the case.
In the pro column, however, is the fact that people might at least use Dry January to ponder on their drinking habits. It might encourage them to lay off the alcohol for prolonged periods of time. Participants who took on six months of abstinence after January actually experienced beneficial effects. Among them, 67% sustained the drop in drinking habits, 79% claimed they saved money, 62% stated they slept better, and 49% announced that they lost weight.
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