Happy New Year sober peeps – I’ll tell you more tomorrow 😉
Happy New Year sober peeps – I’ll tell you more tomorrow 😉
It’s almost that time of year again! Today I’m honoured to feature a guest blog post written for the blog by Alcohol Concern to promote their soon to be active Dry January campaign which kicks off in a few days!
Over to Alcohol Concern:
Dry January feels like it’s been around forever, doesn’t it? It’s as ubiquitous to January as New Year’s resolutions and the post-Christmas belly. But how much do you know about it?
Dry January is an annual behaviour change campaign, which encourages people to give up alcohol for the month of January. A YouGov poll commissioned by charity Alcohol Concern has revealed that an estimated 3.1 million people in the UK are already planning to do Dry January in 2018. They will ditch the booze for one month to feel healthier, save money and re-set their relationship with alcohol.
The campaign is run by national charity Alcohol Concern, which merged with Alcohol Research UK in April to become an even stronger advocate for a world in which alcohol causes no harm.
In 2012 a woman named Emily Robinson joined Alcohol Concern. She had decided to give up alcohol for January, and absolutely everyone wanted to talk to her about it. She was having lots of conversations about alcohol and the benefits of taking a break from drinking – just the kinds of conversations Alcohol Concern wants to have on a wider scale. The national Dry January campaign was born.
Dry January has gone from zero to over five million participants in five years. This is its sixth year running, and we’re expecting the biggest year yet. Dry January now looks suspiciously like a movement – a movement of people who want to be in charge of when, what and how much they drink. Someone you know will be doing it. Probably more than one. Maybe your whole family. Maybe your whole office. Probably not the whole country but hey – we can dream.
Dry January is quite different to Sober for October (run by Macmillan Cancer Support) or the Dryathlon (run by Cancer Research UK), because it’s about YOU. It’s not about raising money for charity (though if you want to, you can do that through Dry January). It’s not about giving something up.
Cutting alcohol out for a month can result in some amazing benefits to health – alcohol puts strain on the body, can disrupt sleep, have a negative impact on skin, and cause weight gain. Going dry for a month can work wonders for people financially, as the average person in the UK spends £50,000 on booze over their lifetime. Additionally, Dry January allows people to develop a new relationship with alcohol and learn the skills needed to say no when they don’t fancy a drink. Two-thirds of people who attempt Dry January make it through the month without drinking, while 72% maintain lower levels of harmful drinking than before Dry January six months later. 
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.”
People can sign up for Dry January at dryjanuary.org.uk, or by downloading the Dry January & Beyond app via the App Store or Google Play. People who sign up to Dry January are more likely to make it through to the end of the month without drinking. They get access to support, tips and tricks, prize draws, and the app, with features including a unit calculator, calorie counter and money-saved tracker. Dry January is for anyone and everyone. Even if you already don’t drink, signing up and sharing the campaign can encourage others to do the same.
To sum up, here’s a quote from blogger Jenna Haldene, who reckons you should give Dry January a go.
“I didn’t think I felt bad at the time. I assumed that it was normal to feel tired and slightly sluggish, and that it was just a side effect of getting older. It wasn’t until I gave my body a much-needed break from alcohol that I realised how much potential I had to feel amazing.”
Read Jenna’s whole blog about cutting out booze here.
If you drink very heavily or experience physical withdrawal symptoms when not drinking alcohol, then Dry January is probably not for you. Instead, you should seek support from your GP or alcohol services; find out what’s available in your area here. Unsure if this applies to you? Try our alcohol audit.
 The poll found that 6% of UK adults are planning to do Dry January. Figure of 3.1 million UK adults planning to do Dry January: total population aged 18+ in the UK 51,767,543 (ONS, Population Estimates for UK: mid-2016, table MYE2); 51,767,543 x .06 = 3,106,053.
So although this blog is primarily about alcohol addiction, substance abuse and misuse isn’t that neat and tidy and many of us have/had multiple addictions to many substances and behaviours. I recently watched the BBC series Drugsland which I was really impressed with and learnt a great deal hence wanted to share here for those of you who may also be interested.
The image on this blog post comes from an organisation called The Loop:
The Loop is a not for profit Community Interest Company established in 2013 which provides drug safety testing, welfare and harm reduction services at nightclubs, festivals and other leisure events.
We also provide staff training on drugs awareness, in-house welfare service delivery, the prevention of drug related harm at events, and the delivery of ethical ‘front of house’ drug safety testing services.
This part of their service really struck me as vital:
To provide an opportunity to engage with hidden and hard to reach user populations who are predominantly not in touch with drugs services and who are unlikely to get the opportunity to have any other advice or brief interventions
Such a brilliant organisation and much needed service.
Here is the link to the episode of Drugsland which features Prof David Nutt and Dr Ben Sessa talking about the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act which at over 45 years old still governs the legal, and therefore criminal processes, here in the UK. There is also an interesting discussion about how alcohol and tobacco should be made illegal if there are no changes to current drugs laws!
And this one is also well worth a watch:
To be honest all four episodes are excellent although at times I found them hard to watch. I agree with all that David Nutt and Dr Sessa say and believe it is time to review and revise the policy around drugs including decriminalisation so that drug testing and harm reduction services could be more widely expanded to support public health and safety. I would have happily used the services of The Loop if they had been available in my past and would encourage anyone to use them if they are present at an event you are attending. New Years Eve used to be a big night out back in the day so sharing this felt timely as we approach just that night.
If you’re concerned about your drug taking and need advice and support the Drugsland website also provide an excellent list of resources:
Don’t think she’s sober but I love the quote! Merry Xmas from all the HOF clan! 🙂
If you’re needing some advice to get you through today then Hannah Bett’s wise words will be the perfect (non-alcoholic) tonic 😉
And if you are a child or young person reading this who are struggling with parental drinking concerns then check out the support at Nacoa including their #AdventCare messages. They are there today and every day over Xmas & New Year between 12 – 6 pm if you need to speak to someone: Free Helpline: 0800 3583456 & email@example.com
Wish you were here ……