How ‘Dry January’ Can Change Your Whole Year

You may have rung in 2016 with a glass (or four two) of Champagne, but if you’re one of the many people participating in Dry January, it was the last boozy beverage you imbibed for the next 31 days.

Abstaining from alcohol for the first month of the year has been gaining popularity in recent years, especially in the United Kingdom. According to DryJanuary.org, a campaign run by the U.K. advocacy organization Alcohol Concern, more than two million British people cut down on their booze consumption in January 2015.

That might be a good idea for those of us on the other side of the pond, too. According to researchers, an alcohol-free month can jumpstart better drinking habits all year long. A new study published last month in the journal Health Psychology found that those who merely attempted to stop drinking for a month reported a decrease in alcohol consumption over the followingsix months. Sixty-four percent of the 857 study participants successfully upheld their commitment to a booze-free January and were consuming less alcohol and getting drunk less often six months later. There’s one caveat to the study: Participants had to volunteer to go without alcohol, so they may not represent the average person. 

Previous studies have found that a drinking hiatus — even one that’s just a month long — can have supreme health benefits like better liver function and a reduced risk for diabetes. Learn more about the studies in the video above.

It’s important to note that the ‘Dry January’ study included people who didn’t engage in problem drinking, characterized by having difficulties in life as a result of alcohol intake. If you suspect that your drinking is problematic, please speak with a doctor. There are also many resources available to help you get started: 

So, are you going dry this January? Let us know in the comments section below.

Related on HuffPost:

7 Things To Know About Women And Alcohol

7 Things To Know About Women And Alcohol

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1. More Women Are Binge Drinking

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates released earlier this year, nearly 14 million women in the U.S. binge drink roughly three times a month. For women, binge drinking is defined as having four or more drinks in a single period, but most women average six drinks per binge. Women with a household incomes above $75,000 are more likely to binge, as are women age 18 to 34 and in high school. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 teenage girls binge drink, a behavior that poses serious health risks, including unintentional injuries, alcohol poisoning, liver disease and stroke, among others.

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1. More Women Are Binge Drinking
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates released earlier this year, nearly 14 million women in the U.S. binge drink roughly three times a month. For women, binge drinking is defined as having four or more drinks in a single period, but most women average six drinks per binge. Women with a household incomes above $75,000 are more likely to binge, as are women age 18 to 34 and in high school. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 teenage girls binge drink, a behavior that poses serious health risks, including unintentional injuries, alcohol poisoning, liver disease and stroke, among others.
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2. Women Drink "Less Well" Than Men
Women’s bodies tolerate alcohol differently than men’s for reasons that are not yet fully understood, Slate explains. It may be that the hormone estrogen interacts with alcohol in a way that increases the risk for liver problems, Slate says, or it could be due to differences in stomach enzymes. Plus, as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) points out, women’s bodies have less water per pound than men’s. If a man and woman who weigh the same amount drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman will likely have a higher blood alcohol concentration, because alcohol disperses in water and her body has less.
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3. Drinking Becomes Problematic For Women At Lower Levels …
Largely because women’s bodies tolerate alcohol differently than men’s, they’re more likely to be at risk for alcohol-related problems. Those risks include specific health diseases and conditions, such as liver disease, heart disease and breast cancer, as well as alcohol dependence. The NIAAA defines the “low-risk” drinking limit as no more than seven drinks per week for women, and no more than three drinks in any one sitting. For men, it’s no more than 14 drinks per week, and four drinks in any one day.
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4. … But They Seek Treatment Sooner
As HuffPost’s Amanda Chan previously reported, a new study released earlier this summer, which included more than 500 males and females, found that women who abuse alcohol tend to seek out help four to five years earlier than their male counterparts. Why that is, isn’t exactly clear at this point, although in a statement, Rosemary Fama (a senior research scientist at Stanford University, who did not work on the study) hypothesized that women may attach less social stigma to drinking problems than men, and therefore may be more likely to report theirs, according to HealthDay.
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5. During Pregnancy, No Amount Has Been Proven Safe
A new book “Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong and What You really Need To Know” has made waves for challenging many of the beliefs women and their doctors have long held, among them, that drinking during pregnancy is strictly off limits. Occasional drinking may not pose any danger, concludes author Emily Oster, an economist who was inspired to analyze the existing scientific literature when she became pregnant. But the fact remains that no amount of alcohol during pregnancy has been proven to be safe. In other words, there exists no clearly defined threshold at which experts can say alcohol consumption is safe, which is why most advise simply avoiding it altogether.
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6. Drinking Ups Breast Cancer Risk
“The use of alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer,” the American Cancer Society warns — and that risk increases with the more alcohol a woman consumes. For example, a woman who sips only one drink a day has a very small increase in overall risk, the ACS explains, whereas a woman who has up to five drinks a day has roughly one-and-a-half times the risk of a woman who doesn’t drink at all. That said, drinking is hardly the only risk factor for the disease — there are many others that contribute, including a woman’s lifestyle and her genes.
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7. Alcoholism May Be Deadlier In Women
A German study published last year concluded that alcohol dependence is twice as deadly for women as for men. The death rate for alcohol-dependent women was four times that of a sample of comparable, non-addicted, 18- to 64-year-old women, but only double for men. While the “why” is unclear, the research is in line with other studies suggesting the effect of alcohol on women is “particularly harsh,” CASAColumbia’s vice president and director of policy research and analysis told HuffPost.
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Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/01/04/dry-january-benefits-sober-resolution_n_8912638.html