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Dry January helps people drink less months later

Drinkers who abstain from alcohol during Dry January are still drinking less by August, according to a recent study.

The new study shows that Dry January participants lose weight and save money

New research from the University of Sussex surveyed more than 800 people who took part in Dry January last year, whereby imbibers ditch the booze for the entire month.

The findings showed that the participants were still drinking less in August. Drinking days fell on average from 4.3 to 3.3 per week, units consumed while drinking dropped on average from 8.6 to 7.1 and the frequency of being drunk fell from 3.4 times per month to 2.1 per month on average.

The research also found that 88% saved money, 80% feel more in control of their drinking and 58% lost weight.

Dry January gained popularity after British charity Alcohol Change UK (formerly Alcohol Concern) promoted it in 2013, and it became a government­-backed public health campaign the next year, aimed at improving health.

“The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term – by August people are reporting one extra dry day per week,” said Dr Richard de Visser, reader in psychology at the University of Sussex, who led the study.

“There are also considerable immediate benefits: nine in 10 people save money, seven in 10 sleep better and three in five lose weight.

“Interestingly, these changes in alcohol consumption have also been seen in the participants who didn’t manage to stay alcohol-free for the whole month – although they are a bit smaller. This shows that there are real benefits to just trying to complete Dry January.”

A recent You Gov poll undertaken for Alcohol Change UK showed that one in 10 people who drink – an estimated 4.2 million people in the UK – plan to do Dry January this month.

Dr Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK, said: “The brilliant thing about Dry January is that it’s not really about January. Being alcohol-free for 31 days shows us that we don’t need alcohol to have fun, to relax, to socialise. 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.”

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