Should More People Consider a “Dry January”?

In both the United States and the United Kingdom, these winter holidays can be quite a festive time. And for many people on both sides of the pond, these festivities involve a lot of alcohol. For some people, though, the winter holiday drinking season is just one of many other times throughout the year to partake in a few adult beverages.  

While there is certainly nothing wrong with this, many people start the new year wanting a healthier lifestyle. And folks in the UK have actually taken this a step further with something called “Dry January.” 

Dry January has become a bit of a tradition in the United Kingdom: a month completely abstinent from any type of alcohol. While many people choose to do this because they simply want to gain control of their drinking, many others actually report several different benefits.  

New research out of the University of Sussex has investigated these benefits to find that not only are people feeling better, but many are drinking less.  In their report, researchers say the study shows those who participated:

  • Consumed one fewer days per week (down from 4.3 to 3.3)
  • Had fewer drinks per day (down from 8.6 to 7.1)
  • Drank fewer times per month (down from 3.4 to 2.1)

In a statement, University of Sussex Reader in Psychology, Dr. Richard de Visser concludes, “The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term:  by August people are reporting one extra dry day per week. There are also considerable immediate benefits: 9 in 10 people save money, 7 in 10 sleep better, and 3 in 5 lose weight.”

More importantly, though, Dr. Visser adds that these changes to alcohol consumption carry over even for those who do not manage to stay alcohol free for the entire month of January.  As a matter of fact, even just attempting to complete a Dry January can result in:

  • 93 percent report feeling a sense of achievement
  • 88 percent reported saving money
  • 82 percent reevaluated their relationship with alcohol
  • 80 percent felt more in control of their drinking
  • 76 percent learned more about the reasons they drink; the when and why
  • 71 percent realized they do not need drink to have fun
  • 71 percent reported getting better sleep
  • 70 percent reported generally improved health
  • 67 percent reported having more energy
  • 58 percent reported losing weight
  • 57 percent reported better concentration
  • 54 percent reported healthier skin