East Anglians reset relationship with alcohol in Dry January

Giving up booze for a month has a number of health and lifestyle benefits, say supporters of Dry Jan

Giving up booze for a month has a number of health and lifestyle benefits, say supporters of Dry January. Picture: thinkstockphotos. - Credit: PA

More than three million people across the UK are planning to give up alcohol this month, according to a survey carried out for the charity Alcohol Concern.

More than three million people across the UK are planning to give up alcohol this month, according to a survey carried out for the charity Alcohol Concern.

Its annual Dry January initiative is aimed at getting people to re-set their relationship with alcohol for the duration of the month, and beyond.

Campaigners say alcohol is the biggest cause of death, ill-health and disability for people aged 15-49 in the UK - there were 8,758 alcohol-related deaths in the UK in 2015 alone and last year doctors predicted almost 63,000 people in England would die over the next five years from liver problems linked to heavy drinking. Alcohol costs the NHS an estimated £3.5 billion each year, which amounts to £120 for every taxpayer.

Our problematic relationship with alcohol with brought into sharp focus over the Christmas period when NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens accused drunken revellers of being “frankly selfish” when they rely on the health service to help them and suggested more “drunk tanks” could be set up to keep intoxicated people out of overstretched accident and emergency wards.

An estimated 12-15% of attendances at emergency departments in the UK are due to acute alcohol intoxication, peaking on Friday and Saturday nights and around the Christmas festivities when as many as 70% of attendances can be alcohol-related, according to NHS England.

Public Health England has endorsed Dry January, saying: “Dry January is based on sound behavioural principles and our previous evaluation of the campaign shows that for some people it can help them re-set their drinking patterns for weeks or even months after completing the challenge.”

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According to Alcohol Concern, which merged with Alcohol Research UK last year, two-thirds of people who attempt Dry January make it through the month without drinking, while 72% maintain lower levels of harmful drinking than before Dry January six months later.

In 2016, almost four million people laid off the booze during January but here in East Anglia, we were best at it. More than three quarters of East Anglians who signed up for Dry January apparently stuck to their pledge to abstain from alcohol for the month, better than any other location in the country, according to a survey of 2,000 people for wine retailer Laithwaite’s.

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll commissioned by Alcohol Concern ahead of this year’s event revealed 3.1 million Britons were planning to take part in 2018, including 7% of adults in the East of England, higher than the national average of 6%.

Nationally, the group most likely to likely to sign up were those with children aged 12-16, followed by those with three or more children in their household.

The poll of 2,086 participants showed up some other interesting trends:

? Those aged 35-54 were more likely than any other age group to be planning to do Dry January.

? Those working full-time are more likely to do Dry January (7%) than those who do not work, who are working part-time, full-time students or retired.

? People who have tried Dry January in the past are more likely to want to sign up for support, suggesting a higher proportion see its value compared to people who have not previously attempted Dry January.

Dr Richard Piper, chief executive of the recently-merged charity, said: “Dry January changes lives, giving people the impetus and support they need to re-set their relationship with alcohol for January and beyond. The benefits are astounding: 49% of people lose weight, while 62% sleep better and a whopping 79% save money.

“Alcohol is the biggest cause of death, ill-health and disability for people aged 15-49 in the UK – but these tragedies are all totally avoidable. Dry January is growing year-on-year as more people across the country decide to take control of their drinking and reap the benefits, both in how they feel now and for their future health.”

Two-thirds of people who attempt Dry January make it through the month without drinking, while 72% maintain lower levels of harmful drinking than before Dry January six months later.

People can sign up for Dry January at dryjanuary.org.uk, or by downloading the Dry January & Beyond app via the App Store or Google Play.

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