Of those that took part:
- 49% lost weight,
- 62% slept better,
- 79% saved money,
- 62% had more energy, and
- 58% reported a decrease in drinking days per week
The page that gives these stats doesn’t fully explain that final point, but I think it means that in the weeks after January, 58% of people were drinking fewer days than they had before doing Dry January.
Tonight I heard a talk by Emily from Alcohol Concern, talking about the history of the campaign and the impact of their social marketing. Unlike CRUK’s Dryathlon or Macmillan’s Sober October, which are first and foremost fundraising campaigns, Dry January is primarily about helping the British public to re-evaluate their relationship with alcohol.
In 2012 there were 6,490 alcohol-related deaths here in England, a 19% increase compared to 2001 and more than 9 million people drink more than the recommended daily limits. I’m one of them.
Giving up alcohol for Lent is helping me re-evaluate my relationship with alcohol: from deciding to do it in the first place to taking each day one at a time.
This isn’t some dramatic confession of my being an alcoholic, thankfully I’m not, but I am a big drinker. I turn to alcohol when I’m celebrating and when I’m mourning, when I’ve had a bad day and when it’s Friday. I enjoy its taste, I enjoy how it makes me feel and knowing that I’ll feel like death warmed up the next morning is never a big enough incentive to stop.
But it’s not just me: as a society, we have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol in Britain. The seminar audience this evening made the comparison with our attitude to smoking: would campaigns like this eventually effect the equivalent of smoking bans and blank cigarette packets on how alcohol is sold and consumed? Or is it simply too socially acceptable to change?
It would save us money at both an individual level and across the whole NHS. However, like many of the messages surrounding climate change, it could be a long, slow road to reaping the benefits on a societal scale.
For me, I realise there could be benefits like losing some weight, saving some money, maybe even helping me wake up in the morning, although that would take a miracle. The biggest benefit will, I hope, be a reassessment of how I approach drinking. I intend to be one of the 58% above.
Maybe you would like to join me?