Dry January: The Pros and Cons
If most recruiters were robots, alcohol would be their fuel. Okay that’s not necessarily true. You would be hard pressed to find a Sales Resourcer swigging a pint of Peroni whilst sourcing on the phone, but you can bet your entire month’s wage that when the second Friday hits you’ll find many recruiters down the pub. This month, however, there is a change in the world of recruitment. With January being universally known as the most boring month of the year, to shake it up many people are testing themselves and attempting ‘Dry January’. Even Sam, Cecile and Mike in our Manchester office, and Martin in our London office, are all giving it a go. But do people stick to it? Are there any serious health benefits from it? Do people just simply slip back into old habits at the end of the month? And more importantly, is it a good idea?
Our MD and Co-Founder Neil Clough believes that most people don’t stick to it after he attempted ‘Dry January’ and cracked after an impressive, 5 days. Putting Neil’s undying love for beer aside, is he right? Well if you’re attempting dry January or know somebody who is, here are some pros and cons of that you may not know…
Con: For some, quitting may not be as healthy as it seems.
For those of you drinkers who are thinking of cutting back, be careful. An article on Yahoo News has a statement from Hypnotherapy and Addiction specialist Alisa Frank who says that if you normally drink high levels of alcohol, then suddenly stopping can be “detrimental to your health as your body needs time to adjust to the reduction of the alcohol.”
That being said, it doesn’t mean you can’t cut back; just do it gradually. Frank says you can still cut down alcohol gradually without it damaging your system. This includes: offering to be the driver so you can’t drink, start having a herbal tea when you get in from work instead of an alcoholic drink and distract yourself with activities other than drinking like, sport, going for a walk or even going out for drinks with friends but having a non-alcoholic drink instead.
Pro: Your immune system may be in better shape
With the weather in the UK being much less than desirable at this time of year, quitting alcohol may be just the challenge you’re looking for if you want to decrease your chance of getting a cold. According to George F. Koob, PHD and Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) told Self, being under the influence can suppress your immune system increasing your chances of getting ill. Heavy drinking can even lead to inflammatory reactions throughout the body. Now while quitting booze can’t straight up protect you from the flu, it will have a more positive affect on your immune system.
As well as this there are also various other possible health benefits from a lack of alcohol such as loss of weight. A standard drink typically has around 150 calories in it which means cutting out alcohol can be a good way of losing weight, without compromising any of the fuel and nutrients your body needs.
Con: You may slip back into old habits after, stopping any long-term benefits
If you’re actually motivated enough to go sober for a month, remember you may slip back into old habits easily after January. Ditching the alcohol for a month then going back to normal isn’t going to help you with any long-term health benefits, especially if you’re a heavy drinker. Dr Wilder states in an article from Self.com “This isn’t a great pattern: binge/abstain, binge/abstain”. Wilder continues to say that if you are a heavy drinker your focus should instead be on working on drinking in moderation or quitting completely rather than going from one extreme to another.
Pro: You might feel more energised and happier as a result
Due to a lack of drinking you’ll sleep more and have less chance of skipping regular workouts and exercises. As well as this, a lack of drink will make you feel more clear headed and help with your digestion. Subsequently this can also make you feel more energetic.
An even greater pro to quitting alcohol according to Koob is that it will give you a chance to see how your body feels without booze. If you’ve been feeling particularly down lately and believe your regular drinking habits contribute to that, quitting will be a great way to prove it. If you’re right, the results could be extremely beneficial as you will see an improvement in yourself mentally and socially as well as physically.
Con: Realistically it does nothing
A month is not long enough to change your drinking habits. According to research by the psychology department at UCL, it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit. On top of this there is no concrete proof that it does you any good. Whilst there are reports stating that drinking no alcohol improves sleep, and some studies undertaken show that it improves weight loss and less fat around the liver, there is still actually no concrete evidence of serious health benefits. Not drinking for 31 days certainly won’t do you any harm but if you really want to see some real long term change, you’ll need to make other major changes to your life including: eating healthy, drinking lots of water and regular exercise.
Pro: It can be for a good cause
Despite all the various pros and cons that come along with Dry January, one thing we at Prime can all agree on is that it can be a fantastic way to raise money for a good cause. Alcohol Change UK, Action for Children, Breast Cancer Now, British Liver Trust and Crisis are all charities you can fundraise for and all work closely with issues related to alcohol harm. Even charities like Cancer Research UK allow you to raise money for them by doing an alcohol-free month, so there are various opportunities to get yourself sponsored and start helping not only yourself but others as well.
So, while there may never be a clear way to see if most do stick to Dry January, there is a way to make sure that your month of sobriety does have a lasting impact if not for you, for someone else. If you’re currently doing Dry January, we wish you the best of luck with it and hope you found this article helpful. For more information on alcohol awareness or more information about Dry January please see the links below. If you’re currently reading this and still not had a drink then you’ve lasted longer than Neil. Consider that a milestone!