Your Doctor

Dry January - What's the thinking behind it?

Alcohol is a part of many of our lives, but there are number of important considerations to our health that we need to be aware of, so having Dry January as an alcohol-awareness month is vital. Drinking alcohol safely includes sticking to the recommended unit allowance, avoiding drinking alcohol daily and drinking in a safe environment. Staying within the alcohol consumption guidelines recommended by the NHS (14 units for men and women per week i.e. 4.5 large glasses of wine or seven pints of lower strength beer) means you are at lower risk of illnesses such as cancer and liver disease.

What is wrong with drinking alcohol?

Alcohol can affect all aspects of our body and health including the brain. In the short-term it affects our balance and movement but in the long-term it can contribute to depression in adults. Research has also shown that the more alcohol we drink, the increased likelihood of unprotected sex, bringing further complications like sexually transmitted diseases and the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy. Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of developing liver disease and is a major cause of the 25% increase in deaths from liver disease in England over the last 10 years. The reason you can’t think clearly when you have drunk too much alcohol is because alcohol changes the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain i.e. GABA, dopamine and endorphins. This leads to changes in behaviour and mood. Binging on alcohol brings some additional health issues such as dehydration, bad breath, spots, high blood pressure – the list goes on.

The benefits of cutting down on alcohol

Alcohol can affect our bodies in many ways and so the benefits of cutting down are numerous:-

1. Alcohol is generally very calorific but has no nutritional value and so cutting down or abstaining from alcohol could help you lose weight, particularly around your waistline. 

2. By stopping long-term excessive drinking, you can reduce your chance of health complications such as liver disease, cancer, and mental health problems including anxiety and depression. 

3. Reducing your alcohol consumption could mean your sleep quality is better and therefore improves your mood in the morning which can help relationships and work success. 

4. You are more likely to have increased energy and better concentration.

5. Drinking less can also help save you money and time. 

6. You are also more likely to avoid injury and take risks. 

7. Alcohol can have adverse interactions with other drugs. 

8. Your skin is more likely to be dull or spotty if you consume too much alcohol. 

If you want to discuss your drinking habits or are concerned about a friend or loved one, please contact us to arrange an appointment with one of our GPs.