This month for Dry January we want to support everyone taking part in reducing their alcohol consumption by sharing tips and advice from our staff working in our alcohol support services. We’ve been sharing advice throughout the month on our Facebook and Twitter. Today we are hearing from Niketa, one of our Early Intervention Practitioners at Drinkwise Derby, an early intervention service supporting people with their alcohol and drug misuse.
Over the festive period, you may find yourself drinking alcohol more than usual and that might have left you feel sluggish, dehydrated, and generally rubbish the next day. This post-Christmas feeling has led to more and more people taking part in Dry January each year. The aim of Dry January is to encourage people to have a month of being sober to see that you actually don’t need alcohol to have a good time and you can improve your physical and mental health by cutting down on alcohol consumption.
So, how could going alcohol free for a month benefit you? Well firstly you might notice changes in your energy levels, your weight, your sleep, or your level of hydration. Hydration could then also improve your skin and concentration levels. Did you know that liver health can be improved within one month of not drinking as well as your sleep? You won’t just notice physical changes; you could also save money from not buying alcohol each week. Is there something that you have wanted to do recently or treat yourself to but can never manage to stretch your pennies that far? Well, maybe by stopping your alcohol use, you can see how much money you can start to save for those things you’ve always wanted but haven’t been able to do or buy.
Being mindful of your drinking and how many units you consume is very important as it can be easy for your alcohol consumption to increase over time. It can increase so slowly that you may not even realise before it becomes problematic. Do you wake up the next day after drinking too heavy the night before with a horrible hangover? Do you feel the need to have a drink but are unsure of the reason why? By being more mindful you can change your habits. Maybe you could have one or two drinks less the night before because you realise you don’t need them (or that nasty hangover!). Maybe by focusing on how you feel when you want a drink, you can try different, healthier behaviours to relieve that feeling. The recommended guidelines for drinking are no more than 14 units a week spread over a period of 3 days. If you are unsure about the number of units that you’re consuming, then a unit calculator is a quick and easy way to work it out.
If you are taking part in Dry January this year and are finding it difficult, remember that it takes around 21 to 28 days to form a new habit. It can be easy to want instant satisfaction but think of the benefits long term of cutting down your drinking for your mind and your body. Doing Dry January with someone else can be encouraging as you can find other activities to enjoy together and can encourage one another to stay on track. Maybe you could use this month to learn something new or find a new passion or hobby. Don’t forget for more tips and advice make sure you follow along with the rest of our Dry January campaign on our Facebook and Twitter!
At Drinkwise Derby we deliver an early intervention service provided by Derby Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service. There are lots of tools available on our Drinkwise Derby website that can help you along the way during Dry January, such as a self-assessment quiz, tips on mindful drinking, and more information about alcohol and it’s short and long term effects. If you’d prefer to work one on one with one of our practitioners, then there is the opportunity for you to do so if you live in the Derby City area. You can complete a self-referral form here to get started. If you are not based in Derby, you can still access our website tools, but if you want to speak to someone then a good place to start is going to your GP for signposting to local support. Don’t forget there are loads of great resources online, we’ve listed some good places to start looking below:
- The NHS website has a lot of useful information and advice online to help you cut down on your alcohol.
- Drinkline is a free national alcohol helpline. You can call 0300 123 1110 (Weekdays 9am to 8pm, Weekends 11am to 4pm).
- Try Dry – this is an app free to download and can help you manage your goals and keep on track.