David O'Reilly

Dry January

This month marks my fourth consecutive “Dry January”, so again I’ll be spending the first 31 days of the year stone-cold sober.

The health trend championed by Alcohol Change UK has become, for many of us, an annual tradition. In a society that normalises drinking to excess, the post-festive detox provides a welcome relief.

Abstaining from alcohol during the dark depths of winter is nigh impossible. The festive period is a minefield of awkward social interactions, made bearable by doubling up on that Bacardí. The road through Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve is best navigated with that warm fuzzy feeling that can only be attributed to a spike in blood/alcohol level.

But at this time of year it’s all too easy to exceed the recommended daily allowance. There’s always a sharp rise in the drink-related advertising during the lead-up to Christmas, because it’s perfectly normal to be sipping Buck’s Fizz before breakfast. Our binge-drinking culture has us believe that stumbling paralytic into a kebab shop at 3am singing “Mr. Brightside” is proper etiquette. After all, it is the season to be jolly.

The social pressure to drink, coupled with the subsequent dreaded hangover, could be the reason so many of us are signing up to the “Dry January” programme.

Thanks in part to social media, there’s now more people than ever jumping on the wagon. A YouGov survey published in December found that roughly 4.2 million Brits are planning a booze-free start to 2019, and the health benefits are now backed by science. Researchers at University of Sussex found that a month of sobriety can not only improve health, but curb our tendencies to overindulge later in the year.

Whatever your drinking habits, having a month off to reset is no bad thing, and a lime and soda is kinder to your wallet than that pint of Stella Artois.