It was initiated by Emily Robinson, who gave up drinking for a month in January 2011 after signing up for her first half marathon. Emily started work for Alcohol Concern the following year, and the charity launched Dry January in May 2012.
During the first Dry January – 2013 – more than 4,350 people took part. The next few years saw exponential growth and, this year, 16% of the UK adult population attempted an alcohol-free month. “There’s something about giving yourself a bit of a break,” says Joanna. “And we know that 67% of people who do Dry January with our support are still drinking less six months down the line”.
Save money, sleep better, lose weight
Research done at the Royal Free Hospital demonstrated that
• 79% of Dry January participants saved money
• 62% found they slept better
• 49% lost weight
Alcohol Concern is not aiming to stop people drinking alcohol forever. “We’re not saying people shouldn’t drink,” says Joanna, “but that we all need the right information, so that we can make better choices. Alcohol Concern has one simple mission, which is to reduce the harm caused by drinking alcohol”.
So, in addition to Dry January, the charity is, for instance, lobbying government to introduce a minimum per unit price for alcohol “because we know that will really help a lot of people at risk of serious drinking.”
Dry January at the University of Westminster
As well as publicising the campaign across the University, we have offered students the opportunity to fulfil three voluntary roles. Not only will these roles – filmmaker and editor, social media creative and social entrepreneur – enable them to make a significant contribution to Alcohol Concern, but they will also be able to add a significant achievement to their CVs.
“All I’d say to anyone reading this,” says Joanna, “is go to the App Store or Google Play, download the app – Dry January and Beyond – and you’ll get support and motivational messages throughout the month, along with some exciting special offers.”
And good luck, cos you’ll feel much better by the end of January.”
Tips for making the most of Dry January
Serve your guests – or treat yourself to – something cool, delicious and alcohol-free with Town & Country’s 30 best mocktail recipes
And The Resident suggests 14 Sober activities to get you through Dry January (NB: this is their 2016 list, so one or two activities might be appropriate to January 2017).