How Dry January Really Affects Your Health

Ah, the new year! A time for fresh perspectives, fresh starts and resolutions. (So many resolutions.) But one increasingly popular resolution — to participate in Dry January — may be better for your health than you initially thought. According to new research from the University of Sussex, the benefits of Dry January are plentiful… and long-term.

The study followed 800 individuals from January 2018 through August 2018. What researchers found was that those who participated in the annual drink-free event drank less not only in January but overall.

Drinking days fell on average from 4.3 to 3.3 per week.

“The simple act of taking a month off [from] alcohol helps people drink less in the long term,” research leader Dr. Richard de Visser said in a statement. “By August, people are reporting one extra dry day per week.”

But drinking less isn’t the only benefit of Dry January. Researchers found that those who abstained from alcohol slept better, had more energy and lost weight. Their concentration levels also improved, as did their skin.

“Many of us know about the health risks of alcohol – seven forms of cancer, liver disease, mental health problems – but we are often unaware that drinking less has more immediate benefits too,” Dr. Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK, said. “Sleeping better, feeling more energetic, saving money, better skin, losing weight… the list goes on. Dry January helps millions to experience those benefits and to make a longer-lasting change to drink more healthily.”

However, the best part about Dry January is not about the month at all. It is about the way in which the program can prompt people to make positive behavioral changes.

“Being alcohol-free for 31 days shows us that we don’t need alcohol to have fun, to relax, to socialise,” Piper said. “That means that for the rest of the year we are better able to make decisions about our drinking, and to avoid slipping into drinking more than we really want to.”

It is important to note that all of these benefits were self-reported. No one was evaluated by a doctor and/or medical professional. But this research reminds us that small changes can lead to big things — for our health, wealth and well-being.

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