The past two years have been very challenging for so many people and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll as we move into 2022 Evidence shows that, for many people, the loneliness and isolation that they have experienced, and the restrictions placed on our daily lives have led to an increase in drinking, particularly for those who were already drinking heavily.
The latest research from Alcohol Change UK shows that almost three in 10 drinkers (28%) have found themselves drinking more in 2021, compared to 2020, and may have developed new habits that are hard to break.
One in ten drinkers in the UK (10%) plan to take on Dry January in 2022, seeking to throw off the pressure and reset their relationship with alcohol. Alcohol Change UK is encouraging people to sign up for Dry January via the free Try Dry app.
Signing up to the app is free and gives you access to great support, allows you to track your units, calories, money saved by not drinking, plus many more features. You can:
- Track your time off from drinking
- Read the Dry January Blog
- Access the official guide to A Month off booze
- Use offers on alcohol free drinks
According to Alcohol Change:
- One in six (18%) adults who drink alcohol are planning to have a month off drinking in January, or one in seven (15%) of all UK adults.
- One in three of those planning to take a break would prefer to take part in Dry January®, rather than trying to give up alcohol on their own for January.
- Taking part in Dry January® using the tools and resources provided by Alcohol Change UK doubles your chance of a totally alcohol-free month, compared to trying to give up alcohol on your own for January.
- Almost three in 10 drinkers (28%) have found themselves drinking more in 2021, compared to 2020, and one in four (25%) would like to cut down.
Teresa, aged 60 from Pembrokeshire, found herself drinking every day and much earlier in the day and realised her drinking was getting out of control. She began drinking even more during last year’s Christmas lockdown in Wales, which she found particularly difficult, until she decided something had to change.
“I guess I was aware that my drinking habit was getting out of control for quite some time. Family and friends had jokingly started to remark on the amount of wine I was drinking and the time of day I opened the wine – always by 4pm, and I would work my way through a bottle an evening and sometimes more at the weekend.
“The December 2020 lockdown meant that it would be impossible to get together on Christmas Day with my family who live 250 miles away. I drank more wine than ever over the holiday period to make up for the disappointment of not having the family Christmas we had planned. And I didn’t even enjoy the wine! My turning point was 29 December; that morning I woke with a thumping headache, the most awful heartburn and the usual self-loathing, and I thought: “What on earth am I doing to myself? This has got to stop.” and I really meant it.
“I looked up Dry January® that morning and signed up whilst it was fresh in my mind. I committed to doing it right there, before I could change my mind. That was the best decision I have made in a very long time, and without a doubt it has changed my life for the better.
“Some of my close family had been worried about my daily wine drinking for a while. They could see it slowly creeping up but didn’t feel they could approach me about it. They were both pleased and relieved that I had signed up for Dry January®, so much so that my husband, sister, my youngest son and his partner joined me in taking part, which has been brilliant.
“Alcohol Change UK’s free Try Dry® app has been a massive motivator for me. I love collecting my teacup stamps at the end of each day. I put my baseline drinking as an average of a bottle of wine each evening, and seeing the units, money and calories accumulating each day has been a huge reality check for me. I cannot believe just how much alcohol I was putting into my body! I also enjoyed the daily emails which were incredibly helpful. The Dry January® Facebook group has also been a great source of support and encouragement. Sharing the journey with others in similar situations made me realise that I wasn’t alone.
“There are so many positive differences I have seen: weight loss, the night sweats have disappeared, along with the bloated feeling which I had previously blamed on the menopause! I feel happy and full of life, but the most important thing for me is the sense of freedom I feel. It’s so liberating to not have that awful feeling of self-loathing each morning.
“I have embraced sobriety and can honestly say that I feel happier, healthier, and fitter than I have felt in years, and I have Dry January® to thank for helping me find my way off that slippery slope.”
Adverse health risks of drinking
Many of us know about the health risks of alcohol – seven forms of cancer, liver disease, mental health problems – but we are often unaware that drinking less has more immediate benefits too. Sleeping better, feeling more energetic, saving money, better skin, losing weight… The list goes on. Dry January helps millions to experience those benefits and to make a longer-lasting change. So go on, take part, download the app now.
Public Health England have endorsed Dry January
If you drink very heavily or regularly Dry January may not be for you, so check with your GP or local alcohol service before you start. Where an individual is experiencing physical symptoms when they stop drinking (which may include but are not limited to: shakes, sweating, restlessness, insomnia, nausea, stomach cramps or hallucinations) they should seek medical help urgently.
Are you a family or friend affected by someone’s drinking?
Perhaps you’re not the person drinking excessively but on the receiving end of someone who is? Or, maybe you have concerns about a family or friend’s wellbeing surrounding the use of alcohol?
It is widely recognised that family and friends around those with alcohol misuse tendencies really need support. That’s where Carers Support West Sussex (CSWS) comes into play by offering a range of free and confidential options to enable you to cope and help if you are affected by someone else’s drinking habit.
CSWS can also signpost to other local organisations, such as Change, Grow Live, who can give advice and crisis information, so you know what to do in supporting someone else.
If you would like to find out more about how CSWS can help you care for someone else, please do get in contact by phoning 0300 028 8888 or emailing email@example.com
For out of hours support, please contact:
- Sussex Mental Health Line which is a 24 hour line which carers can call for advice and support in a crisis on 0300 5000 101
- DrugFAM – If you are affected by someone else’s alcohol addiction, contact their free helpline from 9am – 9pm 7 days a week on 0300 888 3853
- Call FRANK – open 24/7 on 0300 123 6600 or Chat text 82111