Dry January 2021

Are you one of the millions who signed up for Dry January this year? Still doing it? Change is hard. We stick to comforting habits, we make routines: get home from work, a glass of wine after dinner, another one (or two) during Strictly or Love Island or I’m a Celeb, another one before bed…so easy. Dry January is a chance for a total reset to your drinking, we’ve really indulged ourselves over Christmas, now is the time to get stuck in and start the year off on the right foot. 86% of people who do Dry January save money (great after Christmas), 70% get more sleep (all those ZZZ’s!) and 66% feel like they have more energy (we all need more of that).

2020 was a tough year, we all found it hard to work from home, not go out, not see our friends; it left many of us drinking more than we normally would. 2021 has started off on a bit of a bum note (January lockdown….really?), but this can be seen as an opportunity: with everywhere closed you can keep your Dry January pledge much easier.


Dry January Challenge 

Dry January is an open the challenge from Alcohol Change UK, anyone can get involved and challenge themselves. Alcohol Change UK wants alcohol consumption to be a conscious choice, not the default we turn to when times get hard. Alcohol is one of the oldest recreational psychoactive drugs (causes changes to mood, thought processes and behaviour) and has been from as early as 7,000-6,650 BCE. It is legal in most countries (barring some countries in the Middle East, some Indian states and Native American reservations) , with age restrictions, public intoxication and drink-driving laws in place to varying levels worldwide.

Alcohol, in those countries where it is legal, has become a social norm. Many of us find it hard to imagine going to a party or spending time with friends without alcohol being involved. Alcohol consumption contributes to about 3 million deaths every year worldwide and has a knock-on effect on the families of those 3 million.

Liking a drink doesn’t make you an alcoholic, alcoholism is shown by a growing tolerance to alcohol (need more to get the buzz) and physical dependence on it (very strong urge to drink alcohol), these factors make it increasingly hard for an alcoholic to stop drinking.

Health Benefits of Dry January

Dry January is a chance to reset. Is a chance to evaluate how much alcohol we are drinking and get back on a more even keel. High levels of alcohol intake across a week (not just one session) can lead to a whole host of nasty illnesses: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, liver/mouth/bowel/breast cancer, depression etc. Reducing alcohol consumption can have a lot of health benefits.

Did you know that a month without drinking can:

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Lower diabetes risk

  • Lower cancer-related proteins in the blood

  • Give you deeper, more restful sleep

  • Give you a brighter mood (alcohol links to depression after all)

  • Give you more energy

  • Improve concentration

  • Improve skin

  • Help you lose weight (alcohol is FULL of sugars and carbs – So. Many. Calories!)

  • Decrease the frequency of indigestion and diarrhoea

  • Leave you with more time

  • Leave you with more money

Tips and Tricks To Help You This Dry January

Quitting anything, even if it's only for a month can be hard, we end up craving the things our bodies have got used to. There's a lot of ways you can make Dry January a little easier on yourself;

  1. Preparation is key – get some non-alcoholic treats in to reward yourself for that the first week – it's going to be the hardest one after all.

  2. Either remove alcohol from the house or make it difficult to get to, you're less likely to reach for the bottle after a long day if you have to dig it out from under 3ft of old Xmas decorations in the attic first.

  3. Studies have shown that in times of stress we are more likely to reach for a drink, so look after yourself, eat healthily, take a break from the stress of 2021 every now and then.

  4. Don't give up! Remember that any change however small is better than no change at all.

  5. Try alternatives; get an alcohol free beer instead of a regular, hang out with friends over a cup of tea instead of cocktails.

  6. Challenge a friend: doing Dry January with a friend makes you both more likely to succeed, you can support each other and keep each other motivated.

  7. Distractions. Try out new things you didn't have time for: go for a walk (if allowed to within your tier restrictions), learn a new skill, learn a new language for that dream holiday you're going to have once you can travel again.

  8. Try the free Dry January app, it has lots more helpful tips, keeps track of money/calories saved (it doesn't just work in January, you can use it to keep track of your drinking year-round).

  9. And above all: be kind to yourself. Setbacks are normal, they don't mean you've failed. One drink does not make the rest of the work you've done worthless. Breaking habits is a lot harder than forming them after all. Just because you stumbled, doesn't mean you need to stop, all you need to do is pick yourself up where you fell and keep going.

Dry January App

Alcohol Change UK came up with the FREE Dry January app to help people quit drinking for a month. The app lets you track your dry days, keep a note of what you've drunk, it's cost and calorie level, set personal goals, you can collect badges (achievements am I right gamers!) for total days dry.

Using the Try Dry app makes it more likely that you will keep your alcohol intake at a lower level even after Dry January is over. People who sign up and challenge themselves officially through Alcohol Change UK are twice as likely to successfully have a dry month and more than 70% of Dry January challengers then go on to have healthier drinking habits for at least 6 months afterwards.

Alcohol is a drug, a socially accepted one, but still a drug. The negative health effects of alcohol use and abuse are many and well known. We acknowledge that life with alcohol can seem easy, going numb to the problems in your life, the stresses. It doesn't stop them, doesn't change the root of the problems, just lets you ignore them. Lasting change must be a choice, one that you make for yourself, for your own reasons time and again. The Dry January challenge can give you the tools and help you prove that you have the strength to make a lasting change. For information on local help with quitting, speak to your local pharmacist or GP's office. You say “I can stop whenever I want”...Prove it.