Come on, admit it. How many times have you made a promise to yourself on New Year’s Eve that you’ll cut back on the amount of alcohol you’ll drink for the following year? How did you go? I’ll bet it wasn’t long before you’d slipped back into your usual habits and were drinking as much as ever, perhaps even more.
Am I right?
A recent study saw 857 Brits take part in a study for the journal Health Psychology to determine what effect staying off the booze for a month would do. They decided ‘Dry January’ was as good a time as any to start the experiment, with anecdotal data collected before January 1, at the end of the month and six months down the track.
No alcohol for a month – what were the results?
Of those who started, 548 made it to the end of the month without touching a drop of alcohol, while the other 309 couldn’t hack the pace. Of those who successfully remained sober for Dry January, their initial questionnaire showed that this group:
- Consumed less alcohol prior to the experiment than those who pulled out
- Are drunk less often
- Achieved a lower score on an Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test* (AUDIT)
- Are more able to resist drinking in high-risk situations
It seems that those who were able to stay the course for all of January did so because they didn’t drink as much as those who dropped out to begin with. While this might seem like bad news for those who are consistent drinkers, it’s actually a real positive.
What the results show is that a slight reduction in the amount of alcohol you drink can have far-reaching and long-lasting positive ramifications. Consciously making the decision to cut back on the amount of alcohol you drink will increase your ability to move out of the group who couldn’t complete a Dry January, into the larger group that did. It’s just like practicing for any sort of activity, the more you consciously train to perform a task, the easier it gets over time to perform it subconsciously.
What about the results after six months?
It might be fair to assume that once Dry January was over with the participants had a massive night on the booze to celebrate, then went back to their former ways. Surprisingly, and joyously for that matter, the results six months down the track were positive, even for those who didn’t make it to the end of January. Participants experienced significantly:
- less drinking days per week
- less drinks per drinking day
- lower frequency of drunkenness
It just goes to show that committing to an alcohol-free period for a short time can have a significant influence on your future drinking behaviour. The likely outcome is they understood that drinking less had positive benefits to their overall health and wellbeing, bank balance, ability to get a good night’s sleep, and productivity levels.
But these aren’t the only benefits you get from taking a month off alcohol. Past studies suggest that giving up alcohol for just four weeks helps with:
- Liver function
- Blood pressure
- Liver Disease
With all of those positives, it’s hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to take a break for a month!
Taking the febfast challenge
In Australia, our Dry January equivalent is febfast. It’s your opportunity to give up the booze for the month of February (it’s only four weeks), not only giving your body a rest from the damaging effects of alcohol, but raising much needed funds and awareness for disadvantaged Australian youth.
To me that’s the ultimate win-win situation. On one hand your body and mind win because you’re not inhibiting their potential by drinking alcohol, and those who have drug and alcohol dependency issues win because funds are raised to help them get their lives back on track. Surely you can give up alcohol for one month for such a worthy cause, right?
Proud to be a febfast Ambassador
After the reaction my news.com.au article generated, and subsequent appearance on Sunrise, I was thrilled an honoured when I received an invitation to be a febfast Ambassador. I wholeheartedly believe in the positive mind, body and soul effects a life without alcohol can bring. However, I know for some people drinking responsibly is an enjoyable part of life and I don’t begrudge anyone who thinks that way.
However, my mantra on drinking is simple – if you’ve been thinking about or decided that you’d like to quit, cut back or take a break from drinking alcohol, don’t wait a minute longer. Do it today and I guarantee you’ll be thankful you did.
How can you get involved in febfast?
If you’ve decided that you could do without drinking alcohol for a month, want to raise money for disadvantaged Australian youth, or both, there are several ways to get involved.
- As an individual – Just do it yourself! Register online and receive exclusive recipes, competitions and other goodies.
- As a team – Safety in numbers, right! Register online.
- As an office team – The ultimate bonding experience! We’re confident your office will see a big increase in productivity during February. Register online.
Since the first febfast in 2007, $7 million has been raised for some incredible causes. In 2016 the target is to raise $1 million to help those who suffer from drug and alcohol dependency to kick the habit and lead fulfilling lives. You can help be the difference in the lives of many young Australians who need our help. What are you going to do?
*Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) – a 10-item screening tool developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to assess alcohol consumption, drinking behaviours and alcohol-related problems.