Doing dry January? Expert tips on how to ditch booze

Naga Munchetty reveals she’s going to try Dry January

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Those taking part in “dry January” will commit to shunning alcohol for an entire month. The annual challenge is expected to be more popular than ever, as many Britons seek to reverse the worrying alcohol consumption habits they have picked up over the pandemic.

In 2021, an estimated 6.5 million UK adults took part in Dry January, a significant increase on the 2020 figure of around 3.9 million.

But drinking has risen dangerously throughout the pandemic.

Up to a staggering one million more Britons have become addicted to alcohol according to the Government’s latest research.

Before the pandemic, approximately 1.5 million adults drank over 50 units a week, but this figure has leapt to nearly 2.5 million by the summer of 2021.

Such high levels of alcohol consumption can be very dangerous. To put this in perspective, the NHS recommends adults drink no more than 14 units a week.

Dr Niall Campbell, a consultant psychiatrist for Priory, told that Covid has “changed the drinking landscape” and has become the “enabler” of unhealthy drink habits for millions of people.

Dr Campbell told “I have been alarmed at just how much people have sought to self-medicate with alcohol for boredom, stress, job loss or work insecurity, depression and anxiety.”

He recommends the following five tips for those looking to ditch alcohol this January.

Avoid social functions that could derail you

It can be hard to attend social events where alcohol is on offer as you can easily be peer pressured into drinking.

Dr Campbell urged those undertaking Dry January to “stay away.”

He added: “If you do go, mentally prepare how you will refuse alcohol. Don’t put yourself in a high-risk situation.”

For those struggling to stay social without the booze, Dr Campbell recommended: “Swap your wine or lager culture for a coffee culture. You can still be just as sociable.”

Think of the weight you could lose

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight and to get fit, then cutting back on your alcohol could seriously help you to achieve this goal.

Dr Campbell said: “Giving up alcohol is a huge incentive to losing weight and looking better because there are lots of hidden calories in alcohol.”

Drinking five pints of lager a week adds up to whopping 44,200 calories over a year, which is equivalent to eating 221 doughnuts.

Even if you only give up alcohol for January, ditching the booze for a month can help kick start your weight loss.

According to a poll by Alcohol Concern, 49 percent of those who gave up alcohol for the first month in 2017 lost weight.

Improve your skin and your sleep

If weight loss isn’t enough of a motivating factor to ditch alcohol this January, then improved skin and sleep might be.

Dr Campbell explained: “Drinking alcohol causes blood vessels to widen, which increases blood flow and causes facial flushing.

“As alcohol is a diuretic, drinking heavily can also lead to dehydrated and dry skin.

“Over time, it can also result in the permanent reddening of the face, spider veins and psoriasis, particularly on the fingers and hands.”

He added: “There are loads of other benefits to giving up alcohol; your blood sugar will normalise, you will feel much more clear-headed, less depressed and your sleep patterns are likely to improve within a week.”

Get allies

It’s always easier to give up addictive things such as alcohol if you aren’t doing it alone.

Dr Campbell said: “Talk to a friend and, if possible, get them to give up alcohol at the same time as you – then support each other.

“Discuss times when you might be tempted to go the pub and opt for the cinema, or binge watch Netflix.”

Find alternatives to your favourite tipple

There are plenty of alcohol-free alternatives to your favourite tipple emerging on the market and increasingly in pubs.

If you find yourself craving a drink why not get creative and whip up some non-alcoholic cocktails to keep yourself distracted.

Dr Campbell recommends avoiding low alcohol alternatives as these can give you a taste for the real stuff.

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