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Dry January: The benefits of being alcohol-free

Have you heard of Dry January and want to know what it’s all about? Or perhaps you already know all about it and have decided to give it a go?

Keep reading, because in this article we talk you through the ins and outs of the annual campaign. We also explore some of the benefits of giving up alcohol.

What is Dry January?

Run by Alcohol Change UK, the initiative sees hundreds-upon-thousands of people across the UK ditch alcohol for the entire month of January. It’s seen as an opportunity to wave goodbye to hangovers, save money, feel healthier, as well as many other things.

Alcohol Change UK started Dry January for two main reasons:

  1. A month off is a great chance to get everybody thinking about their drinking, so they can make healthier and happier decisions when it comes to drinking alcohol throughout the year, not just in January.
  2. It’s an opportunity to make not drinking, whether for an evening, a month or longer, feel more normal. Some people choose to go alcohol-free for just January, while others may continue with it going forward, or cut back their alcohol consumption. Whatever the motive and outcome, Alcohol Change UK say it’s a way for people to reset their relationship with alcohol and drink more healthily all-year round.1

What happens during Dry January?

You can simply do it or officially sign up to it

Anybody can take part. In fact, those who decide to do it and formalise their commitment by signing up online or using the free app, are more likely to drink less several months later. According to Alcohol Change UK, 75% of people who commit to Dry January in this way are still drinking less riskily six months later.

You can do it on your own or in groups

You can take part in it individually or as part of group, e.g. as a workplace or as a community. And you can do it in aid of charity by getting sponsored by your family and friends if you like.

You can’t drink alcohol for a whole month

The main thing about Dry January, is you don’t touch a drop of alcohol from New Year’s Day until February 1.

You can tap into lots of support resources

There are lots of ‘dry tools’ you can use to help you along the way, which include a podcast, blog and guide, as well as the app.

What are the benefits of not drinking alcohol?

There are quite a few, health benefits and wider benefits, associated with not drinking. They include:

  1. Less calories
Alcohol contains calories – fact. Some drinks are more calorific than others, but on the whole, continuous drinking can lead to people putting on weight. For example, if you were to drink one less pint a day for a week, you would be consuming 1,500 less calories.2

  1. Skin benefits
What we mean by this, is your skin looking healthier. You see, alcohol dehydrates the body, including the skin. Over time, this can result in people’s complexions looking dull and grey, and not as healthy as they usually look.3

  1. Eating better
Alcohol impacts our blood sugar levels, which means we can crave sugary, starchy, greasy or salty food after drinking (fry-up anybody?) Cutting out alcohol for a month or longer enables people to make more informed and healthier food decisions. Of course, it’s still possible to have caffeine, cakes, etc. but in moderation.4

  1. Saving money
Not drinking alcohol obviously means you’re not spending money on it. According to Alcohol Concern, the average Brit can spend up to £50,000 on drinking during their lifetime. And, if that’s not enough to convince you, 79% of Dry January participants say they’ve saved money as a result of doing it (more on the potential savings below).5

  1. Re-evaluating alcohol

Hopefully, taking a break from drinking will encourage you to re-evaluate your relationship with alcohol, how much you drink and how much you’d like to drink going forward. Experiencing some of the benefits listed above should spur you on to cut back or completely cut out alcohol.

  1. Feeling happier
It’s not uncommon for people to feel more low the next day after they’ve been drinking because alcohol can exaggerate existing feelings of sadness and anxiety. Alcohol can impact the neurotransmitters that are in our brain, so when you don’t drink, you may feel happier than if you do have a drink.6

What happens to your body after one month of no alcohol?

If you stop drinking for a month, health-wise you’ll find that after:7

ONE WEEK OF NO DRINKING:

  • Your body will be more hydrated – six glasses of wine is the equivalent to losing 19 to 24 glasses of water.

  • You will have consumed – fewer calories. For example, six pints of lager a week is the same as eating five chocolate bars. Lower calories means: increased weight loss.

TWO WEEKS OF NO DRINKING:

  • You might experience less digestive issues associated with drinking – meaning your stomach lining will be more normal, your stomach acid production will be more stable and you won’t experience acid burn.

  • You will have consumed – even fewer calories! For example, drinking 12 pints of later over two weeks is the same as eating 10 large slices of cake.

THREE WEEKS OF NO DRINKING:

  • You will have consumed – even fewer calories! For example, drinking three bottles of wine over three weeks is the same as eating three portions of fish and chips.

  • And saved yourself some money – around £67+ in wine and £50+ in lager (based on having consumed 18 x 175ml glasses of wine and 18 pints of lager over three weeks).

FOUR WEEKS OF NO DRINKING:

  • Your skin may look better – because you’ll have absorbed more water, your skin will be more hydrated (not dehydrated) and you’ll have increased cell turnover.

  • You will have cut back on so many calories – drinking 24 pints of lager over four weeks is the equivalent to eating 20 chocolate bars!
Now that you’ve read about some of the benefits of cutting back on or completely cutting out alcohol, have a read of this article, ‘3 ways to reduce your alcohol intake’ for practical advice on drinking less. Shop Alcohol-Free Drinks

Last updated: 2 November 2020