After a festive holiday season and plenty of new year’s parties, and all of the alcohol millions of Americans drank throughout, some people go teetotaler for the month of January and commit to sobriety. And it turns out that even a brief sober period can provide lasting change and noticeable benefits in people’s overall health and wellness, including their mental and financial health.
Researchers at the University of Sussex have been studying ‘Dry January,’ the monthlong abstinence from all things alcohol that was officially christened in 2014 by UK group Alcohol Change. In a new study reported by Gizmodo, researchers studying more than 800 participants in Dry January 2018 noted that giving up alcohol for even a month helped study volunteers drink less alcohol, drink less frequently, and generally regain control over their drinking in the months that followed the sober January period. They also slept better and lost weight, to name just a few of the benefits.
“The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term: by August people are reporting one extra dry day per week,” said Dr. Richard de Visser, a Reader in Psychology at the University of Sussex and the study’s lead author.
Even more interesting, researchers noted that just making the effort to go sober for the entire month of January—meaning drinking less, if not totally sober for the whole month—can help participants decrease their drinking many months later. Study volunteers noted that temperance helped their overall health, including their financial wellness. Those who participated in the Dry January study self-reported saving more money, losing weight, sleeping better, and feeling more accomplished overall. More than half of study participants also reported benefits such as better skin complexion, better concentration, and having more energy.
The caveat, of course, is that individual self-reporting can be biased in numerous ways, and so far, these results have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Unhealthy alcohol consumption is now the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, and worldwide, alcohol use is linked to some 3 million deaths annually. These extreme statistics have prompted U.S. disease prevention and public health experts to suggest that doctors should screen all adults for alcohol abuse.