by Dr.ChristianJessen Daily Mail
This has long been the season of detox, dieting and giving up drinking. But this year avoiding alcohol for the month of January has become something of a competition.
It seems it is no longer enough to steer clear of the strong stuff – you have to tell everyone you’re doing it, too.
It’s been dubbed doing a ‘Dryathlon’ by one charity – and its ‘Dryathletes’ are appealing for sponsorship to help them stay on the straight and narrow.
There can’t be an office worker in the country who hasn’t had an email ping into their inbox from people looking for ‘support’ from their friends as they take on their ‘biggest challenge yet’ – staying off the sauce till February 1.
The craze is backed by two major charities who are avidly targeting Facebook and Twitter users to reach a whole new class of social drinker.
Cancer Research UK, which is running the Dryathlon campaign, is asking drinkers to raise money for alcohol-related cancer research by staying off booze this month.
Meanwhile, Alcohol Concern is running a very similar Dry January appeal to raise money and awareness in a bid to stop today’s social drinkers becoming the dependent drinkers of the future.
So what’s not to like about a dry January? Surely a lengthy period of abstinence after a few weeks of indulgence is good for your health?
Well, I’m afraid it’s all poppycock. As a doctor, you might expect me to give the concept my total backing, but I’m afraid you’d be wrong.
At the very least, a dry January is a complete waste of time health-wise. At worst, it’s actually bad for you. Why? Because the whole concept is totally unsound.
Instead of being a sign of virtuous behaviour, it’s more likely to signify a broader problem.
As I said, most people are giving up alcohol in January just so they can go back to boozing with a vengeance in February.
In all likelihood, they’ll end up drinking more, not less – despite the month’s break.
I worry that heavy drinkers aren’t embarking on this period of abstinence because they want to radically change their habits forever. Far from it.
They simply want to be able to feel they can drink like fishes from February 1.
It’s human nature to want a quick fix. Most of us would love to pop a vitamin pill instead of eating a plate of broccoli.
Having a dry January has the same appeal.