Dry January began in 2012 as an initiative by Alcohol Change UK, a British charity, to “ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline and save some serious money by giving up alcohol for 31 days.” It is a month when many people voluntarily stop drinking alcohol after the excesses of December and start the new year on a sober, clearer, more refreshed and healthy note. This January, we're challenging you to give it a try.
2020 was certainly a stressful year, where many people turned to alcohol as a way to relieve the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19. There was a 14 percent overall increase in alcohol consumption according to the Journal of American Medical Association. Women, however, have been turning to alcohol for relief from the Covid-19 pandemic at alarming rates, with a 41 percent increase in heavy or binge drinking episodes since March. Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks for men and four or more for women in just a few hours.
The effects of increased alcohol consumption are alarming--especially for women. Biological sex differences mean women’s bodies absorb more alcohol than men’s and take longer to break the substance down. The CDC warns that alcohol increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast amongst women. Women who drink are more vulnerable than men to brain and heart damage as well.
Even a brief break from alcohol can make a difference. Regular drinkers who abstained from alcohol for just a month were found to have a “rapid decrease” in certain chemical messengers in the blood that are associated with cancer progression, a study found. The participants also saw improvements in their insulin resistance, weight, and blood pressure. Within four weeks people will often be sleeping better, feel less irritable and less anxious. Participants found that their skin was clearer and some lost weight.
It doesn’t mean that you have to give up alcohol for forever. But it is a great opportunity to undo some bad habits we may have picked up during the pandemic and find healthy ways to cope by using self-care and wellness to help manage our stress and take care of ourselves mentally and physically.
Tips for success: let friends and loved ones know your plans so that they may encourage you, keep you accountable and perhaps do the challenge with you.
Eliminate the wine and alcohol from your home if possible. And we don't mean drink all you have! Lock that liquor cabinet and hide the key!