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UK Study: January Abstinence from Alcohol Can Be Beneficial

UK Study: January Abstinence from Alcohol Can Be Beneficial

New research suggests abstaining from alcohol during the month of January can help people regain control of their drinking, enhance energy levels, improve skin texture and aid weight loss. Moreover, the self-discipline helps people drink less months later.

In the study, University of Sussex investigators followed 800 people who took part in Dry January 2018. Dr. Richard de Visser, a Sussex psychologist and his team discovered that participants’ drinking days fell on average from 4.3 to 3.3 per week. Additionally:

  • units consumed per drinking day dropped on average from 8.6 to 7.1;
  • frequency of being drunk dropped from 3.4 per month to 2.1 per month on average.

Said de Visser, “The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term: by August people are reporting one extra dry day per week. There are also considerable immediate benefits: nine in 10 people save money, seven in 10 sleep better and three in five lose weight.

“Interestingly, these changes in alcohol consumption have also been seen in the participants who didn’t manage to stay alcohol-free for the whole month – although they are a bit smaller. This shows that there are real benefits to just trying to complete Dry January.”

The University of Sussex research showed that:

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

The findings come from three self-completed online surveys: 2,821 on registering for Dry January; 1,715 in the first week of February; and 816 participants in August.

A new YouGov poll undertaken for Alcohol Change UK showed that one in 10 people who drink — an estimated 4.2 million people in the U.K. — are already planning to do Dry January in 2019.

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 socialize. 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.

Source: University of Sussex

UK Study: January Abstinence from Alcohol Can Be Beneficial

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2019). UK Study: January Abstinence from Alcohol Can Be Beneficial. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Jan 2019 (Originally: 6 Jan 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 6 Jan 2019
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