Dry January could be bad for your health, expert claims

By Robert Mann contact

- Last updated on GMT

Booze blues: experts claim drinkers taking part in Dry January could be doing their health more harm than good
Booze blues: experts claim drinkers taking part in Dry January could be doing their health more harm than good
Drinkers vowing to quit alcohol during ‘Dry January’ could actually be doing their health more harm than good, a top doctor has warned.

Many of us this month will be considering taking part in the annual tradition of abstaining from alcohol, as we nurse sore heads from Christmas and new year celebrations.

Going alcohol-free for January is a popular way of starting the new year after over-indulging during the festive period with more than 5m Brits taking part, according to a YouGov study.

However, some experts claim that Dry January​ is “bad for you” because it “encourages” binge-drinking for the rest of the year.

Encourages binge-drinking

According to leading liver doctor Mark Wright, a consultant at University Hospital Southampton, many people will make up for the short-term abstinence by guzzling as much as they like from February to December.

He also added how he fears the popular trend is stopping alcoholics from facing up to their problems.

“Giving up alcohol for Dry January​ as some sort of detox is like maxing out your credit cards all year and thinking you can solve your financial problems by living like a hermit for a month,” Wright exclaimed.

“The danger is that abstaining for a month can make it seem like people have a grip on their drinking, but, in fact, it can be the perfect decoy to justify drinking far too much in the festive season – it’s not a fix-all solution.”

Ian Hamilton, a lecturer in the department of health sciences at York University echoed Wright’s thoughts and said that those taking part are more likely to give themselves permission to “drink themselves silly” when February rolls around.

Dry January​ risks sending out a binary, all or nothing, message about alcohol – that is, either participate by abstaining or carry on as you are,” he added.

Immediate benefits

Despite the bad press, Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK, which runs the challenge, says those taking part can expect to feel healthier, save money, and improve their relationship with alcohol in the long term.

“Many of us know about the health risk of alcohol – seven forms of cancer, liver disease, mental health problems – but we are often unaware that drinking less has more immediate benefits too,” Piper explained.

“Sleeping better, feeling more energetic, saving money, better skin, losing weight – the list goes on.”

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