Residents are being encouraged to cut out drinking during ‘Dry January’ 2016.
Dry January is a national campaign from Alcohol Concern and Public Health England. North and West Reading Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), South Reading CCG and Reading Borough Council are encouraging local people to take a month off from alcohol and enjoy the many benefits of having a break from the booze.
Dry January participants often report losing weight, sleeping better, gaining more energy, clearer skin plus huge savings. Not a bad return just for cutting out the booze for 31 days.
Cutting out alcohol for a month can help people re-evaluate their drinking habits long term. New research has shown just how effective Dry January is at changing behaviour. The most comprehensive study yet has shown that six months after completing Dry January, 65 per cent of people have made a positive change to their drinking habits by drinking less, or cutting alcohol out completely.
Those signing up at www.dryjanuary.org.uk can get extra support in the form of regular emails with tips, help and advice, and people can share their experience and ideas via social media. The Dry January website has lot of ideas and suggestions to help people through the month, such as delicious mocktail recipes.
People can participate in Dry January at www.dryjanuary.org.uk without any need to fundraise, although they are welcome to rise sponsorship money to help Alcohol Concern. Participants can also find out just how much calories and cash they’ll save using the calculator.
The First Stop Bus will be out and about in Reading during January, stationed at various locations around the town, including outside the Royal Berkshire Hospital on 5th January, on Broad Street on the 6th January and at the Reading University Campus on 11th January, with Council officers offering help and advice on alcohol consumption and motivation for getting through Dry January. People who are worried about their drinking habits can also get support from their GP surgery.
Reading’s Lead Member for Health, Graeme Hoskin, said:
“January is the ideal time of year to try something new to improve our health and wellbeing. Most people enjoy alcoholic drinks and they are a significant part of many people’s social lives. However, it can be all too easy to regularly drink more than the recommended safe upper limits and stopping drinking alcohol for a while can help the body to recover".
“I encourage people to sign up to the challenge, potentially loose a few excess pounds and make a saving into the bargain. Make a dry January your New Year’s Resolution. You won’t be alone – last year over 2 million people in the UK took part, and there is plenty of support and advice available.”
Dr Helen George, a GP from Melrose Surgery, Reading, said:
“The health benefits of cutting out (or cutting down) on alcohol, are immense. As well as improving your general health in the short term, longer term, re-evaluating your alcohol consumption can have a far reaching effect, helping to avoid serious health conditions, such as cancer, coronary heart disease and liver disease.”
Watch a video of Dr George talking about the benefits of Dry January here: https://youtu.be/wM8ZXQut-yA
For more information on Dry January contact , call 020 7566 9800 or visit www.dryjanuary.org.uk
Statistics from Alcohol Concern suggest around 20 per cent of the adult population in Reading drink at a level which increases the risk of damaging their health. Alcohol-related healthcare costs in Reading were an estimated around £7.2m, equating to £57 per adult.
Alcohol is one of the three biggest lifestyle risk factors for disease and death in the UK, after smoking and obesity. Deaths from liver disease have reached record levels, rising by 20 per cent in a decade.
How much is too much? Know your units
Binge drinking is defined as drinking two or more times the recommended daily upper limit in any one day. The maximum recommended amount to drink each day is 3-4 units for men and 2-3 units for women.
The alcoholic strength of a drink is measured in ‘units’. For example, a pint of normal strength beer (4%) contains 2.3 units, a large glass of wine (250mls) contains three units and a single measure of white spirits such as gin (37.5%), which is just 25mls, contains 0.9 units, whilst dark spirits, such as brandy and whiskey (40%) contains one unit.
The number of people being admitted to hospital for alcohol-related conditions continues to increase and, for example, alcoholic liver disease is the few major causes of ill-health and death which is on the increase in England (whilst decreasing in other European countries) with deaths reaching record levels, having risen by 20% in the last ten years.
In Reading, we estimate that some 30,000 people are drinking alcohol at ‘hazardous’ levels (that is above the recommended daily limit) and some 4,500 are drinking at ‘harmful’ levels (that is at levels that is causing harm to physical and/or mental health).