Dry January. Is it worth it?

Our writer assesses the pros and cons of Dry January - will you be joining in?

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Photograph: Jasmine Thompson

The month of January seems to be a hangover period from the after effects of excessive eating and alcohol consumption. This can be justified ever more so this year, given the events that have occurred. Therefore, it only seems right that to combat the substantial eating and drinking, initiatives such as Dry January can be effective in ensuring that some of us start the year as we mean to go on- limiting the amount we drink. But is this just a way of seeking attention, and do we really care if those around us decide to take up this initiative or not?

There has been a lot of debate sparked recently over whether it really tackles the underlying issue of excessive drinking, and if just becoming tee-total for a whole month helps to break the cycle of alcohol abuse. Colourful characters such as Piers Morgan have expressed their views on twitter, implying a ‘good for you’ approach if you decide to take up this challenge, but it doesn’t give you reason to gloat about it to those that may want to continue enjoying alcohol into the new year.

It sounds pompous that people feel it is their duty to declare that they are taking up this initiative; ultimately making others feel inadequate, or like they have a problem just because they choose to enjoy alcoholic beverages. Granted, it is widely accepted that you don’t need alcoholic supplements to have a good time, but many do enjoy a drink, and so they shouldn’t be ridiculed because of their choices.

Moreover, many have the nerve to ask for sponsorship in order to help their cause- often by giving the money to charity. Not to say that charities aren’t a deserving cause, but do people actually feel that they need to do this in order to stop drinking for a month? Conversely, this can be turned into a negative instead of a positive act. It doesn’t create a good image that one needs to be sponsored in order to resist a drop of alcohol. It seems so simple and yet so complex to make a four-week switch from the ale to water. To make this initiative effective, it seems logical that the NHS should implement more educational classes for those that undertake this challenge. Showing them the long-term impacts of excessive drinking, in conjunction with the positive implication that being able to control the amount one drinks leads to a more stable and healthy lifestyle.

Consequently, relating back to the original question of whether taking up Dry January is worth it, in short, yes it is. Despite it possibly being seen as a form of self-indulgence, this initiative is not only helping to break the cycle of potential alcohol abuse, but is helping to raise money for worthwhile causes. It helps to limit the abuse of our livers, the education received helps to enlighten individuals of the fact that alcohol isn’t the main determining factor to having a good time, and ultimately it acts as a catalyst for those that actually suffer from alcohol addiction to seek the help needed.