Glasses of wine and beer

Dry January - start the new year feeling healthier and happier

4 January 2019

If you feel like you are drinking a bit too much or too often, or that you could do with some time off the alcohol, going dry for January is a great way for you to start the new year feeling healthier and happier.

Cheshire East Council – along with the partner organisations involved with the area’s Wellbeing Network – is supporting Alcohol Change UK’s national campaign Dry January and encouraging people to give up alcohol for the duration of the month, or to take a few ‘drink free days’ each week.

On Monday 7 January, an event will be held at Crewe Lifestyle Centre from 10am-2pm where health and social care partners from across Cheshire will be available to talk to visitors about the effects alcohol has on your health.

As well as receiving advice and support, visitors will be able to try free samples of alcohol-free beer, cider, spirits and wine and find out the surprisingly high number of calories contained in alcoholic drinks.

Everybody Sport and Recreation is also backing the campaign and offering a free one-month gym membership for those who take up the challenge, survive the month and are willing to share their story.

Regularly drinking more than the recommended level of 14 units of alcohol a week not only makes you put on weight and disturbs your sleep, it also increases your chances of developing high blood pressure, liver problems, having a heart attack and getting some types of cancer – including breast cancer.

Of those who previously took part in Dry January, 88% saved money, just over 71% reported having better sleep, 67% had more energy and 58% lost weight.

But if you would rather not give up alcohol for the whole of January but want to cut down on how much you are drinking, the Drink Free Days app is a simple and easy way to track the days you drink alcohol and the days you do not. Simply nominate days to take off drinking and get practical, daily support to help you stick to it.

By taking days off drinking, it reduces the risk to your health and gives your liver time to recover.

To help you cut down on your alcohol consumption, One You Cheshire East has also put together a whole host of tips and guidance, alongside community support services, to help you keep your drinking under control – including the Drink Free Days app.

You can find out more by visiting the One You Cheshire East website or call 0800 085 8818.

To sign up or find out more information about the Dry January campaign, visit the Alcohol Change UK website.

Dry January partner organisations in Cheshire East include: Cheshire East Council, Community and Voluntary Service Cheshire East, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Department for Work and Pensions Cheshire, East Cheshire NHS Trust, Everybody Sport and Recreation, NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Peaks and Plains Housing Trust and Plus Dane Housing.

Dry January - one Cheshire East Council staff member shares her motivation for taking part

Staff member Rachael Nicholls is doing Dry January and hopes she can motivate others to take part in the challenge by sharing her story.

Rachael said: “Like a lot of people I enjoy a drink but on a recent visit to my doctor, she calculated I was regularly drinking in excess of the recommended limit of 14 units per week. 

“I had gained weight and my blood pressure was high. I have therefore taken the decision to go ‘dry’ for January. I am really interested to see what impact it will have on my overall health and wellbeing – will I lose weight? Will my blood pressure come down? Will I feel happier in myself? I know without doubt I will save money!

“I hope my attempt will encourage others to give it a go – if not completely ‘dry’ you could increase the number of drink free days you have during the week. I will keep you posted as to how I am getting on and what impact this has on me and my health.

“The lovely staff at Everybody Sport and Recreation at Nantwich Swimming Pool took my starting weight and I measured my waist and blood pressure – this will be re-done at the end of the month. Wish me luck!”

8 January - blog update 

Rachael said: “One thing I’ve come to realise is that going over 14 units can be easy to do. There are probably not many of us who look at the units contained in what we drink. For example, my favourite tipple, white wine, has nine units in a bottle. I had never looked at it before and in all honesty, never taken it seriously.

“During the evenings, when I used to have a drink, I am now doing different things such as visiting family and going for a walk - I’m even starting an evening course mid-January.

“Having got through the toughest part of going ‘dry for January’, I feel optimistic.  If you have also taken on the challenge, keep taking each day as it comes and reward yourself as each week passes – this week I’m off to the cinema. 

“In my next blog I’ll give an update on whether any of my original numbers have changed (blood pressure, waist and weight) – I can tell you that my bank balance has already!”

21 January - blog update 

I’m now over half way. I have been trying to focus on the positive aspects of being dry, such as the amount of money I am saving and all those empty calories I am avoiding. 

At this point my blood pressure has also reduced and I’ve even managed to lose a few pounds (though I still have some way to go with that).

If anyone else is having a go or even having more drink free days, I hope that you too are focussing on the positives and feeling happier and healthier.