The Benefits of 'Dry January' Last for Months and Months

A New Year's resolution worth trying?
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2018 7:40 AM CST
Think you can manage no booze for 31 days?   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – If you're still deciding on New Year's resolutions and pondering whether "Dry January"—that would be 31 days with no alcohol—is worth adding to the list, new research out of the UK suggests the answer is yes. The University of Sussex heard from 816 people who participated in Dry January in 2018, surveying them before it began, during the first week in February, and in August. The researchers found that the benefits were still in effect more than six months later. Namely, participants were drinking one day less a week, at an average of 3.3 drinking days versus 4.3 before Dry January, per a press release. And when they drank, they drank less, with average units consumed per drinking day falling from 8.6 to 7.1.

There's instant gratification, too. Lead researcher Dr. Richard de Visser noted that in terms of immediate benefits, "nine in ten people save money, seven in ten sleep better, three in five lose weight," and one in two reported better skin. There were also behavioral effects: 76% came to a deeper understanding about when and why they drink, and 71% learned they could have fun without an alcoholic beverage. Daunted by the prospect of 31 days? Even a lesser number is beneficial, says de Visser. "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." (Though not everyone agrees it's a great idea.)

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