Every year, the population try to commit themselves to all sorts of New Year’s resolutions, but one in particular which has taken Britain by storm is the pledge of Dry January. As I am sure you are already aware, Dry January entails the complete avoidance of alcohol commencing 1st January until the end of the month. Alcohol UK set up the campaign for Dry January in 2013 and it has grown in popularity every year since. According to Alcohol UK’s website, over four million people decided to abstain from booze for an entire month in 2018! For a nation of binge drinkers, this is an incredible achievement.
Of course, like many other New Year’s resolutions it is easy to lose motivation or to ditch your health quest prematurely, so what makes Dry January any different? Well, considering that Dry January only lasts a month, it is a small and easily achievable goal rather than setting yourself a daunting New Year’s resolution which might take an overwhelmingly long time to obtain. Dry January gaining a lot of media attention brings the benefit of knowing you aren’t alone in your healthy kick start to the year, and doing this as part of a community means you can be held accountable and even motivate each other.
I have had my own experience with Dry January. I took part in it last year and I also decided to do it this year. Last year it was not a conscious decision; the last time I drank had been the drinking Black Friday, and the next thing I knew we were a week into January and I still hadn’t had an alcoholic beverage so I thought I may as well give it a shot. I resumed drinking again halfway through February, but I never felt any strong desire to drink; I just had one or two glasses of some weak alcohol before going clubbing.
I think that is one of the long term benefits that Dry January has the potential to bring you: it teaches you that you can indeed go without alcohol, and you can have an enjoyable time without it. It may be hard to get used to at first, seeing as Britain is a country particularly prone to binge drinking. It was a very weird experience for me to go clubbing for the first time without a drink in my hand! But as the days and weeks wore on, I got used to it. I didn’t really care that I wasn’t drinking when I went to social events, and neither did the people around me – they were too busy enjoying their own night to worry themselves over what I was doing.
It may seem as though a lot of our social events are centred around alcohol, especially while being in university, with nights such as Quids-In luring us in with the promise of ultra-cheap alcohol. However by partaking in Dry January, it is easy to remember that there are many other things to do in our downtime, especially while living in a city which is buzzing with energy.
In my experience, Dry January has brought many short term benefits. I have never been a big drinker, but one of the things which I fully embraced was the absence of hangovers, which gives us a whole new section of day to work with, and to do more things we enjoy. And not to mention the fact that nobody likes having a less-than-pretty reminder of what they drank the night before! It goes without saying that just by cancelling out alcohol for a month you don’t automatically become healthy; there are many other factors which play a part in living a healthy lifestyle but it can definitely be said that by including yourself in Dry January You become healthier – you are cleansing your system from a drug that does it far more harm than good!
Dry January allows us to rethink our alcohol consumption for the remainder of the year. It reminds us to take everything in moderation: some alcohol is okay, too much is not. Above all else, it abolishes the notion of depending on alcohol for a good time!
~ Jessica Holifield