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The Health Benefits of Giving up Alcohol for One Month a Year

The Health Benefits of Giving up Alcohol for One Month a Year

The health benefits of abstaining for a month are far-reaching.

Dean Martin and Foster Brooks had successful Las Vegas nightclub careers based on characters who were fun-loving drunks. Once people sobered up and realized that a drunk wasn’t something to laugh at, those characters were retired. It seems sobriety is all the rage now, at least for the month of January in the UK.

The charitable group Alcohol Change UK started Dry January—an initiative to get people to give up alcohol for the first month of the year. People all around the world have taken part in it. Researchers from the University of Sussex have found that the health benefits of abstaining from alcohol for a month are far-reaching.

A three-times-a-year survey of 2,500 people who took part in Dry January found that everyone who took the challenge reported higher energy levels and healthier body weights. Participants reduced their average number of drinking days throughout the year from 4.3 to 3.3 days per week. On days when they did drink, consumption was down more than 10 percent. They also reduced excessive drinking by more than 30 percent. Ninety percent of participants reported they saved money; 80 percent felt more in control of their drinking habits and 70 percent reported better overall health and improved sleep.

Interestingly, the benefits from Dry January extended—although to a lesser degree—to those who didn’t make it through the whole month. So, just giving it a try can boost your health. You don’t have to wait until next January to abstain; any month will do.

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

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