Hartlepool’s challenge to ditch the booze for Dry January

Published Thursday, 13th December 2018

One in 10 drinkers in the North East are planning to ditch alcohol for Dry January 2019, according to a YouGov poll released today (13th December.)

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, and Hartlepool Borough Council are urging friends, families and work colleagues to come together and take on the 2019 Dry January challenge as figures show around 180,000 North East drinkers took part last January.

People who take a month off the booze can look forward to feeling healthier, saving money, sleeping better and losing a few pounds. But many Dry January participants also report benefits all year round with more drink free days and drinking less when they do drink.

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L-R: Sharon Robson, Health Improvement Practitioner at Hartlepool Borough Council; Andy Lloyd, Head of Media and Communications at Balance; Alison Reeves, Planning and Commissioning Officer (Public Health) at Hartlepool Borough Council.

Cllr Christopher Akers-Belcher, Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board and Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council said: “There is no better time to reset the clock and refresh your health than the start of the year. After a December of festive fun, take the pledge to have a drink-free month and see just how much healthier your body, waistline and pockets can feel.”

Dr Peter Brambleby, Hartlepool Borough Council’s Interim Director of Public Health said: “In Hartlepool, our under 75 mortality rate for deaths caused by alcohol-related illnesses is the second highest in the country and almost three-times the national average. This is unacceptable.

“Take steps towards lowering your alcohol intake and utilise the various support and tools available to help you have a drink-free January. Your health will thank you for it.”

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “Drinking can often creep up on people into a daily habit and more than one in four people in the North East are drinking above the guidelines of 14 units a week.

“We’re encouraging people to get family, friends and colleagues on board too. It can be a real motivating factor taking on a challenge together and we know that it can make us more likely to succeed.

“Every year it feels like more and more people we know are taking part in Dry January. It is a chance to break the feeling of relying on a drink, give our bodies a chance to recover, and to feel fitter. But it is great to see so many people feeling the benefits well beyond January and still drinking less than they were six months on.”

Research by the University of Sussex with over 800 Dry January participants (2) found Dry January participants were still drinking less in August:

  • People were taking more Drink Free Days, with drinking days per week dropping on average from 4.3 to 3.3.
  • Units consumed per drinking day dropped on average from 8.6 to 7.1.
  • Frequency of drunkenness fell on average from 3.4 per month to 2.1 per month.
  • For all of these measures, people who drank more riskily before Dry January saw bigger decreases in the amount and regularity of their drinking – suggesting that Dry January is particularly helpful for heavier drinkers.(3)

The research also showed that:

  • 93% of participants had a sense of achievement
  • 88% saved money
  • 82% think more deeply about their relationship with drink
  • 80% feel more in control of their drinking
  • 76% learned more about when and why they drink
  • 71% realised they don’t need a drink to enjoy themselves
  • 70% had generally improved health
  • 71% slept better
  • 67% had more energy
  • 58% lost weight
  • 57% had better concentration
  • 54% had better skin

People who sign up to Dry January are more likely to make it through to the end of the month without drinking.  People can sign up for Dry January at dryjanuary.org.uk, or by downloading the brand-new app ‘Try Dry: The DryJanuary app’ via the App Store or Google Play. The app allows people to track units, calories and money saved not drinking, plus track their drinking year-round.

Dr Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK, said: “Put simply, Dry January can change lives. We hear every day from people who took charge of their drinking using Dry January, and who feel healthier and happier as a result, many of them making permanent life changes.

“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.

“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. 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.”

Public Health England has endorsed Dry January, saying:  "Dry January is based on sound behavioural principles and our previous evaluation of the campaign shows  that for some people it can help them re-set their drinking patterns for weeks or even months after completing the challenge."

Signing up for Dry January increases the chance that you’ll get the most out of the month. You can download ‘Try Dry: The Dry January App’ to track your units, money and calories saved, plus many more features. Or you can sign up at dryjanuary.org.uk for regular support emails with tips and tricks from experts and others like you.