RESIDENTS are being encouraged to beat the booze for 31 days during ‘Dry January’ 2019.
Now in its seventh year, Dry January is a national campaign from Alcohol Change UK.
Reading Borough Council is encouraging local people to take a month off from alcohol and enjoy the many benefits of having a break from the booze.
Four million people in the UK took part last year. As well as saving money, people taking part reported having better quality sleep and more energy as well as losing weight. Not a bad return just for cutting out the booze for 31 days.
Reading’s Lead Member for Health, Cllr Graeme Hoskin, said: “January is the ideal time of year to try something new to improve our health and wellbeing. I’d encourage people to sign up to the challenge too – potentially loose a few excess pounds and make a saving into the bargain. Make a dry January your New Year’s resolution. You won’t be alone and there is plenty of support and advice available.”
Cutting out alcohol for a month can help people re-evaluate their drinking habits long term. New research has shown just how effective Dry January is at changing behaviour. The most comprehensive study yet has shown that six months after completing Dry January, 65 per cent of people have made a positive change to their drinking habits by drinking less, or cutting alcohol out completely.
Cllr Hoskin continued: “Most people enjoy alcoholic drinks and they are a significant part of many people’s social lives. However, it can be all too easy to regularly drink more than the recommended safe upper limits and stopping drinking alcohol for a while can help the body to recover.
“The health benefits of cutting down (or cutting out) alcohol, are immense. As well as improving your general health in the short term, longer term, re-evaluating your alcohol consumption can have a far reaching effect, helping to avoid serious health conditions, such as cancer, coronary heart disease and liver disease.”
Those signing up at www.dryjanuary.org.uk can get extra support in the form of regular emails with tips, help and advice, and people can share their experience and ideas via social media. Get access to a free app, which helps keep track of the month with features like a calorie calculator, unit tracker and a tool to show how much money is saved.
For anyone who just wants to keep a track of their drinking, rather than taking part in Dry January, there is a great free One You Drinks Tracker App available at: www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/drinks-tracker.aspx
People who are worried about their drinking habits can also get support from their GP surgery or via IRIS Reading www.cranstoun.org/service/iris-reading If you are worried about a friend or family member’s drinking you can seek support and advice from DrugFAM www.drugfam.co.uk
In Reading, it is estimated that some 30,000 people are drinking alcohol at ‘hazardous’ levels (that is above the recommended daily limit) and some 4,500 are drinking at ‘harmful’ levels (that is at levels that is causing harm to physical and/or mental health). Alcohol-related healthcare costs in Reading were an estimated around £7.2m, equating to £57 per adult.
Alcohol is one of the three biggest lifestyle risk factors for disease and death in the UK, after smoking and obesity. Whilst there is good awareness of the links between alcohol and liver disease, there is far less awareness of the links to a range of cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure and over 200 other health problems where alcohol is a causal or contributory factor. Every year over 55,100 people in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer with alcohol causing 1 in 13 cases. Alcohol increases the level of oestrogen in the bloodstream and long-term exposure to oestrogens increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
How much is too much? Know your units
Binge drinking is defined as drinking two or more times the recommended daily upper limit in any one day. The new guidance maximum recommended amount to drink is the same for both men and women, which is not drink more than 14 units a week, and spreading these units evenly over 3 or more days.
The alcoholic strength of a drink is measured in ‘units’. For example, a pint of normal strength beer (4%) contains 2.3 units, a large glass of wine (250mls) contains three units and a single measure of white spirits such as gin (37.5%), which is just 25mls, contains 0.9 units, whilst dark spirits, such as brandy and whiskey (40%) contains one unit.
The number of people being admitted to hospital for alcohol-related conditions continues to increase and, for example, alcoholic liver disease is one of the few major causes of ill-health and death which is on the increase in England (whilst decreasing in other European countries) with deaths reaching record levels, having risen by 20% in the last ten years.