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'Dry January' Might Have Some Lasting Benefits

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The holidays are definitely a time of overindulgence in almost every area, from shopping to eating to drinking, which is why so many people decide to try a “Dry January” resolution to kick off the new year. And while you may think committing to a Dry January is not only good for your pocketbook and health during the first month of the year, a new study is showing that abstaining from alcohol for the month may actually have lasting effects as well.

A study conducted by the University of Sussex looked at the lasting benefits of abstaining from alcohol for one full month, and the results are pretty amazing. The study found that those who abstained from alcohol for the month were able to regain control of their drinking habits, they had more energy, their skin was better, and they lost weight. Not only that but they also ended up drinking less in the coming months.

The study involved over 800 people who participated in Dry January in 2018, and as of August most of the participants were still drinking less than previously. The study found that on average, participants were drinking less during the week, from an average of 4.3 days to 3.3 days, and they were also drinking fewer drinks during that time as well. Participants saw their average weekly consumption drop from 8.6 drinks to 7.1 a week and reported they were drunk only 2.1 times a month versus 3.4 times a month before Dry January.

"The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term: by August people are reporting one extra dry day per week," said Dr. Richard de Visser, Reader in Psychology at the University of Sussex who led the research. "There are also considerable immediate benefits: nine in ten people save money, seven in ten sleep better and three in five lose weight," he noted. He also pointed out that even those who attempted to participate in Dry January but perhaps weren't successful in going the whole month without drinking still saw lasting benefits.

“Interestingly, these changes in alcohol consumption have also been seen in the participants who didn’t manage to stay alcohol-free for the whole month - although they are a bit smaller. This shows that there are real benefits to just trying to complete Dry January.”

The study also showed that a whopping 93% of those who participated in Dry January felt a sense of achievement while 88% reported they saved money. The list of benefits ranged from people realizing they didn't need to have alcohol to have a good time, to those who generally felt healthier and that they looked better.

“Put simply; Dry January can change lives. We hear every day from people who took charge of their drinking using Dry January, and who feel healthier and happier as a result.

“The brilliant thing about Dry January is that it’s not really about January," Dr. Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK, said. "Being alcohol-free for 31 days shows us that we don’t need alcohol to have fun, to relax, to socialize. That means that for the rest of the year we are better able to make decisions about our drinking, and to avoid slipping into drinking more than we really want to."

Regardless of how much you drink, Dry January can definitely help you kick off the new year on a healthy foot. There is even a Dry January website and app where you can sign up and track your progress, making it a bit more fun and a challenge. The new year is a great way to start something new and focus more on your health and well being, and Dry January is a great way to do that.

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