LivingA month without alcohol improves long-term health

A month without alcohol improves long-term health

A study by a team of British researchers from the University of Sussex in Falmer shows how skipping alcohol for a month can improve our lives and concludes that these benefits are long-lasting. It is the best option we can take for our health.

The research, led by Richard de Visser, found that people who participated in Dry January in 2018 (an initiative that encourages giving up alcohol for 30 days) reported having more energy and a healthier body weight. They also felt less need to drink alcohol, even several months after participating in this initiative.

The experts analyzed the data they collected from Dry January participants in three online surveys. A total of 2,821 people completed a survey when registering for the campaign in early January. In the first week of February, 1,715 participants completed a survey and 816 participants submitted additional data in August 2018.

The researchers found that stopping alcohol consumption for a month helped participants reduce the number of days they drank later in the year. The number decreased from an average of 4.3 days per week to 3.3 days per week after Dry January.

Additionally, people who spent a total of a month also got drunk less often months later. Rates of binge drinking dropped from an average of 3.4 times per month at the start of the study to 2.1 times per month on average.

In fact, the participants also learned to drink less. They went from consuming an average of 8.6 units of alcohol per day of consumption at the start of the study to 7.1 units of alcohol per day.

“Just being alcohol-free for a month helps people drink less in the long run,” says Visser. “There are also considerable immediate benefits: 9 out of 10 people save money, 7 out of 10 sleep better, and 3 out of 5 lose weight,” he adds.

However, there are also important benefits available to those who quit alcohol for shorter periods. A month without alcohol is best to start with, but even less time can improve a person’s health, Visser says.

“Interestingly, these changes in alcohol consumption have also been observed in participants who failed to stay alcohol-free for the entire month, although they are slightly smaller – the benefits -“, the researcher emphasizes.

A long list of benefits

-93% of the participants reported having experienced a feeling of ‘achievement achieved’ at the end of the month without alcohol
-88% had saved the money they would have otherwise spent on drinks.
-82% of the participants felt a greater awareness of their relationship with alcohol
-80% felt more in control of their drinking habits
-76% understood when they were most tempted to drink and why.
-71% of the participants learned that they did not need alcohol to have fun
-71% said they enjoyed a better quality of sleep.
-70% reported better general health
-67% had higher energy levels.
-58% of the participants lost weight
-57% felt more focused than before
-54% noticed better skin health.

“The good thing about Dry January is that it is not really about January. Being without alcohol for 31 days shows us that we do not need alcohol to have fun, relax, socialize, etc,” Piper clarifies.
“That means that for the rest of the year, we can make decisions about our drinking and avoid indulging in drinking more than we really want.”

“We often don’t realize that drinking less also has more immediate benefits. Sleeping better, feeling more energetic, saving money and improving skin, losing weight … The list goes on,” concludes Piper.

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