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January the best time to go alcohol-free


Those who imbibe alcohol in excessive amounts should be familiar with the concept of Dry January. The idea is a temporary break from drinking alcohol for the full 31 days of January. This is in an attempt to break away from the ill health effects of alcohol, both in the short term, but hopefully in the long term too.

The origins of Dry January are traced way back to 1942 Finland. The Finns decided to have their own sober January in attempts to make savings during the ongoing war against the Soviet Union. But more recently, the Dry January concept was popularized by Alcohol Change UK, who also trademarked the term.

The initiative officially began in 2013, and has continued to gain more traction over the years in several countries. Some countries though, like Canada, have a Dry Feb as an alternative. But the concept remains the same. Excessive drinking is the leading cause of many preventable conditions. The list spans from liver disease, to elevated risks of some cancers. Not to mention acute intoxication which can be lethal, and the obvious link between alcohol and motor vehicle accidents. At the extreme end of drinking is alcohol addiction, which is associated with all sorts of social maladies, on top of the inevitable predisposition to chronic diseases.

Anyone who drinks alcohol can benefit from a Dry January. All you need is the resolve to turn down any alcoholic offers that come your way. You do not need to hide away from social events or other tempting engagements.

Be open with your associates on the resolve to abstain for the defined period, and encourage them to join you if they so wish. You’ll find lots of alternate drinks to replace alcohol. If the craving for that alcoholic taste becomes overwhelming, you could always try other drinks that taste like alcohol but are actually alcohol-free. Think of alcohol-free beers and the like. The health benefits of a Dry January are almost instantaneous. You will get away from hangovers, may eat better, sleep better, lose some weight, have better glucose control and optimize chronic conditions like high blood pressure. You may even end up with the impetus to drink less after the Dry January, or even to stop drinking altogether.

We are all fallible and may get tempted to compensate for the Dry January afterwards. This would completely negate the benefits accrued for the whole period of abstinence.

To avoid such pitfalls, you can always sign up for the free Try Dry app developed by Alcohol Change UK. This provides you with ample support for your resolve to remain alcohol-free, leading to healthier drinking patterns and significantly improved well-being in the long run.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist. [email protected]

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