It is estimated that over 4 million people will take part in what has become a familiar January “tradition “, known as dry January , after overindulging during the festive period, also to lose weight, and also to rebalance the finances.
However, dry January is not a “fix-all solution” to having a healthier lifestyle when it comes to drinking, and we risk fooling ourselves into thinking we have a more restraint over our drinking habits than we may in reality.
Dr Mark Wright, a consultant in liver medicine at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said the month-long break from alcohol runs the risk of being the perfect “decoy” as it “can make it seem like people have a grip on their drinking”, advising that people should be aware of what they drink all year round .
Although there are physical benefits to giving your body a break, Dr Wright warns that the approach is not the best psychologically for problem drinkers – and it won’t improve your health if you just go back to your usual habits again.
He said: “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.
“It just isn’t going to make things better if you then go back to your usual habits in February.
“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.
‘What people need to do is be aware of their consumption all year round, aiming to stick to 14 units per week with three to four dry days.’