As a nation we tend to drink a very large amount of alcohol over the Christmas period, but for some this overindulgence is a regular occurrence – something charities like Alcohol Concern are eager to address with Dry January.
Black Friday (the last Friday before Christmas) is a particularly heavy night in terms of alcohol consumption – with people drinking 114% more compared to an average Friday night.
Furthermore, figures show that last December, £3.7billion was spent on drink in England – making it one of the busiest times of year for police, hospital A&Es and ambulance services responding to alcohol-related injuries.
Therefore, leading charities across the country are keen to encourage people to be more mindful of their drinking habits and make a conscious effort to give up alcohol as soon as the New Year sets in.
For the past three years, Alcohol Concern has been promoting Dry January, and this year it is teaming up with Public Health England (PHE) to boost awareness of the harms of excessive drinking.
Kevin Fenton of PHE said: “We know that at this time of the year alcohol consumption increases quite markedly.
“We really want to encourage people to be more mindful about the health harms of alcohol intake and what they can do to be more moderate drinkers and reduce the harms from alcohol.”
According to statistics from Alcohol Concern, in England more than nine million people drink more than the recommended daily units, and an estimated 7.5 million are clueless about the harmful effects their drinking habits can have on their health.
Although many people do not drink on a regular basis, going to excess at certain times of year or on special occasions can be just as harmful.
In fact, Britain’s binge drinking levels are among the highest in the world and in extreme cases overdosing on alcohol in a short space of time can lead to severe accidents and possibly even death.
Jackie Ballard, chief executive of Alcohol Concern believes giving up alcohol for a month in January is a positive step forward in helping to change attitudes towards drinking.
She said: “Take a month off. You’ll find at the end you’ve saved money, you feel healthier, you feel more energetic, you have probably lost weight and you can change your relationship with alcohol, hopefully for life.”