After imbibing over holidays, some Montrealers look to a sobering 'Dry January'
After the weeks of libations that come with celebrating the holidays, some Montrealers are taking a decidedly more sober look at January – and a new survey shows it could have benefits that last all year.
‘Dry January,’ an initiative with roots in the United Kingdom, sees participants choosing to abstain from alcohol for the entire month.
A recent study of British participants showed that those who took part also reported drinking less later on in the year, including consuming alcohol on fewer days per week. Those surveyed also on average said they got drunk less frequently than people who didn’t take January off from drinking.
The participants also reported a variety of other health benefits, ranging from better skin and more energy to weight loss and better sleep.
“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,” said Richard De Visser, the researcher who led the University of Sussex study, in a statement. “This shows that there are real benefits to just trying to complete Dry January.”
Ronald Fraser, a psychiatrist at the MUHC, said ‘Dry January’ can give people a chance to pause and reflect on their drinking,
“If I'm doing Dry January and I don't make it to January 5th, that may give me pause and make me reflect on my relationship with alcohol,” he said.
Roughly 80 per cent of adult Canadians say they drink at least occasionally, with eight to 10 per cent of those suffering from alcoholism.
In Canada alcohol kills more people than opioids, but it is perceived much differently.
“Historically we've used mood-altering substances to help us unwind and that can be okay, but as you sometimes see, there's a glass of wine and then there's a goblet of wine,” said Fraser.
For those who suffer from a form of alcoholism, he added that a single dry month probably won’t have any large benefits.
In fact, going cold turkey could pose a threat to their health, ranging from withdrawal to possible death.
“In Canada, we actually have low-risk drinking guidelines,” said Fraser. “Most people aren’t aware of those. For men, it’s no more than three drinks per day and no more than 15 drinks per week. For women, it’s no more than two drinks per day. It’s important to recognize there’s a difference between low-risk and no-risk. It’s becoming increasingly clear the only no-risk approach to drinking is abstinence.”