News release: 4.2 million people in the UK to go alcohol-free for Dry January 2019 for healthier drinking year-round

Maddy Lawson | December 2018 | 10 minutes

A YouGov poll has revealed that an estimated 4,2 million people in the UK are already planning to do Dry January in 2019.[1] Dry January participants stop drinking alcohol for one month to feel healthier, save money and improve their relationship with alcohol long term.

Dry January is run by the charity Alcohol Change UK. People can now sign up for Dry January via a website and a free app. Today also sees the launch of Try Dry: The Official Guide to a Month Off Booze, published by Square Peg, with a foreword by comedian and actor Lee Mack.

Dry January helps people to drink more healthily year-round, according to independent research conducted by the University of Sussex with over 800 Dry January participants.[2] This new research added to previous findings that over 70% of Dry January participants are still drinking less riskily even six months after Dry January.[3] The new research showed that Dry January participants are still drinking less in August:

  • Drinking days per week dropped on average from 4.3 to 3.3
  • Units consumed per drinking day dropped on average from 8.6 to 7.1;
  • Frequency of drunkenness fell on average from 3.4 per month to 2.1 per month.

For all of these measures, people who drank more riskily before Dry January saw bigger decreases in the amount and regularity of their drinking – suggesting that Dry January is particularly helpful for heavier drinkers.[4]

The research also showed that:

  • 93% of participants had a sense of achievement;
  • 88% saved money;
  • 82% think more deeply about their relationship with drink;
  • 80% feel more in control of their drinking;
  • 76% learned more about when and why they drink;
  • 71% realised they don’t need a drink to enjoy themselves;
  • 70% had generally improved health;
  • 71% slept better;
  • 67% had more energy;
  • 58% lost weight;
  • 57% had better concentration;
  • 54% had better skin.

Dr Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK, said:

“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. Being alcohol-free for 31 days shows us that we don’t need alcohol to have fun, to relax, to socialise. 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.

“Many of us know about the health risks of alcohol – seven forms of cancer, liver disease, mental health problems – but we are often unaware that drinking less has more immediate benefits too. Sleeping better, feeling more energetic, saving money, better skin, losing weight… The list goes on. Dry January helps millions to experience those benefits and to make a longer-lasting change to drink more healthily.”

Public Health England has endorsed Dry January.

Signing up for Dry January increases the chance that you’ll get the most out of the month. You can download Try Dry: The Dry January App to track your units, money and calories saved, plus many more features. Or you can sign up at dryjanuary.org.uk for regular support emails with tips and tricks from experts and others like you.

ENDS

For interview requests and briefings please contact:

Maddy Lawson, Communications Manager, Alcohol Change UK

T: 020 3907 8493 / 07814 919 946, E: maddy.lawson@alcoholchange.org.uk

Notes to editors

[1] The poll found that 8% of UK adults are planning to do Dry January, or one in ten of those who drink. Figure of 4.2 million UK adults planning to do Dry January: total population aged 18+ in the UK (ONS, Population Estimates for UK: mid-2017, table MYE2); 52,078,525 x .08 = 4,166,282. Total sample size for the YouGov survey was 2,055 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30 November - 1 December 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

[2] Figures are taken from independent research completed by Dr Richard de Visser, School of Psychology, University of Sussex, during and after Dry January 2018. They come from three self-completed online surveys: 2,821 on registering for Dry January, 1,715 in the first week of February (one month follow up), 816 participants in August (six month follow up). This research was funded by Alliance House Foundation.

[3] de Visser, R., 2016, ‘Voluntary Temporary Abstinence From Alcohol During “Dry January” and Subsequent Alcohol Use’, Health Psychology Vol. 35, No. 3, 281–289

[4] If you drink very heavily or regularly Dry January may not be for you, so check with your GP or local alcohol service before you start. Where an individual is experiencing physical symptoms when they stop drinking (which may include but are not limited to: shakes, sweating, restlessness, insomnia, nausea, stomach cramps or hallucinations) they should seek medical help urgently.

The charity behind Dry January

Alcohol Change UK is the charity formed by the merger of Alcohol Concern and Alcohol Research. In addition to running Dry January, we work for a world free from alcohol harm. We fund, commission and share research; work to ensure more and better support and treatment; encourage better policy and regulation; shift drinking cultures through our campaigns; and work to change drinking behaviours by providing advice and information. Find out more.

How to sign up

People can sign up for Dry January at dryjanuary.org.uk, or by downloading the brand-new app Try Dry: The Dry January 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, and more. The app allows people to track their units, calories and money saved not drinking, plus track their drinking year-round.

The Dry January book

Try Dry: The Official Guide to a Month Off Booze, is published by Penguin Square Peg on 13 December, with a foreword by Lee Mack. Try Dry is an inspirational guide to cutting back on alcohol for anybody wanting to discover the financial, health and lifestyle benefits of trying dry for a month.

Whether you're a Daily Tippler, a Weekender, an Unwinder or a Both Ends of the Candle-er, Try Dry will lead you through each stage of your booze-free challenge - from 'coming out' to friends and family, to sober dating, setbacks, cravings, going out and staying in. Deeper sleep, reduced anxiety, improved mood, clearer skin, more energy and of course, extra cash, are just a few of a whole host of benefits to be gained from trying dry.

With invaluable expertise and resources from Alcohol Change UK, Try Dry is your ultimate guide to a booze-free month.

Partner charities

Unlike Sober for October and Dryathlon, Dry January is not a fundraising campaign; it is a behaviour change campaign. However, some of us do find it motivating to fundraise or give back. You can choose to give what you save from not drinking to Alcohol Change UK, or get sponsored by family and friends for one of the four Dry January partner charities: Action for Children; Breast Cancer Now; British Liver Trust; and Crisis.

Partners

Dry January is proud to partner with two brands we think make great alcohol-free drinks to help people have a brilliant Dry January. These are Big Drop, a new craft beer company dedicated to making great beer with an ABV of not more than 0.5%, and Outfox, who create tasty drinks that don't feel like the soft option. You can contact Jessica Hook from Outfox at info@outfoxdrinks.com / 0208 5492056.