29 December 2018

Millions Take on Dry January – 600,000 Still Need Alcohol Treatment in 2019

It’s a nationwide campaign organised by Alcohol Change UK with popular appeal. Dry January has grown from 4000 participants in 2012 to 4 million in 2018. In 2019, millions more will take a break from alcohol, learn some healthier habits and some will raise money for charity. When the month is up, the message from Alcohol Change UK is about cutting down alcohol in the longer term. We’re wishing every Dry January participant well with their quest to improve their health.

But there are still 600,000 people in England who will need specialist treatment for alcohol addiction in 2019. In 2018, only 1 in 5 of these people could access the help they needed – even though alcohol treatment outcomes are very good (61% successfully complete their treatment). This group of people have the greatest health harms of all. Every day, 20 of these people lose their lives to alcohol addiction or alcohol-related disease. These are the people whose families suffer the most – especially when they can’t get any help with alcohol.

So let’s also continue to campaign for fair and fast access to alcohol treatment nationwide – to prevent alcohol-related illnesses, suffering, injuries and deaths.

Who Is Dry January For?

Dry January appeals to moderate drinkers or people who sometimes drink more than they should. People who sign up want to change their alcohol habits or have a break from drinking and save some money.

Alcohol Change UK say: “Lots of us feel like we’re drinking a bit too much, or too often, or just like we could do with some time off. Dry January is the perfect way to reset your relationship with alcohol. It only takes three weeks to break a habit, so this could be your route to happier, healthier drinking long-term.”

a photo of people holding hands together against addiction

Dry January – a “Boot camp for Drinking Self-Control”

The idea of the New Year boot camp, detox or health challenge is something that is familiar to many people. After excessive drinking or eating over Christmas, January is a time when millions want to take extra care of their physical and mental health.

Boot camps are testing but temporary – where people challenge themselves alongside peers who support their goals. Alcohol Change UK describes Dry January as “the perfect training ground for helping you cut down from February onwards.”

Their campaign has achieved measurable and positive results for people who aren’t addicted to alcohol. 72% of Dry January participants still drink less riskily after 6 months.

image of a man who needs alcohol rehab

Dry January Isn’t for Alcohol Addicts

For people who are physically dependent on alcohol, medical detoxification is vital if you’re planning to stop drinking suddenly. You’ll probably be a daily drinker, topping up alcohol throughout the day, sometimes at night too. Rehab is also recommended for you, to give you the best chance of quitting alcohol for good. If you can’t access help via your GP, then please speak to UKAT about alcohol addiction treatment. There are many different options open to you at affordable prices. Our advisors will always point you in the direction of free support in the community too, wherever appropriate.

Then there are people who are psychologically dependent on alcohol. You’ll probably be drinking much more alcohol than the safety guidelines of 14 units a week. You may binge heavily at weekends or drink most nights after work – but you can stop for a day or two, here are there. You may attempt to stop drinking by signing up to Dry January. It can be a great start to try this – but if you find it impossible to stay stopped in January, please don’t be discouraged. It’s just a sign you need more help to overcome addiction.

Alcohol addiction is rarely just about drinking too much alcohol. Putting down alcohol is just the start of the recovery process. In treatment, it’s about identifying and treating the problems that drive people to drink too much. So if you discover in Dry January that it’s too hard or painful to stop drinking, please consider alcohol counselling or residential alcohol treatment instead. This will help you find out why you drink and give you the strategies to recover from your addiction.

Start the year in alcohol recovery. Speak to UKAT about the choices for alcohol addiction treatment.

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