Medical Mythbuster: Does a Dry January lead to a Boozy February?

After enjoying adult beverages around the holidays, did you participate in the popular annual challenge called “Dry January,” a month of abstinence from drinking alcoholic beverages? While abstaining from alcohol does offer many health benefits, some may worry that an alcohol-free January could lead people to indulge in a booze-filled February.

However, there’s evidence that participating in Dry January can be beneficial for your health throughout the year. Researchers from the University of Suffolk in England studied more than 800 Dry January participants in 2018. The results showed that about half of those who voluntarily abstained from booze for a month seemed to drink less in the six months that followed. (In England Dry January is an actual government-backed public health initiative that encourages people to abstain.) There were also other benefits reported, including having more energy, improved skin, and even some weight loss.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is produced by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, drinking in moderation means up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Although there are no conclusive studies done in America regarding Dry January, there is anecdotal evidence that spending a month without drinking alcohol often allows people to realize that drinking doesn’t have to be an everyday occurrence, and many people report they feel better physically after a month of abstaining.

“I would certainly encourage patients in trying for a Dry January,” said Dr. David Gilchrist of Reliant’s Family Practice department. “Consuming alcohol can lead to health problems and the less alcohol people drink, the better. I encourage people to moderate their drinking and follow the recommended government guidelines throughout the year whether they participate in Dry January or not.”

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