More People Than Ever Plan to Go Alcohol Free This January

Posted by: Press team on 21 December 2021 13:45

Losing weight, more energy, better sleep and a healthier relationship with alcohol. They are the benefits of Dry January as new research shows nearly 1 in 5 people (18 per cent) who drink alcohol or 7.9 million people are planning to take a month off alcohol in the New Year.

Balance with South Tyneside Council are encouraging people to download Alcohol Change UK's free app, Try Dry®, and take part in Dry January® to double their chances of having a successful alcohol-free month. The North East in 2020-21 saw the highest rate of Dry January sign ups of any region.

With the free Try Dry app people can track units, calories and money saved, and set personal goals through the month. Visit

Nearly 9/10 Dry January participants report saving money, 7/10 say they slept better and 6/10 said they lost weight. It can also help people to cut down long-term: research has found 70per cent taking on Dry January are still drinking less six months later but this only applied to those who used the Try Dry app or coaching emails.

Research shows many people are drinking more heavily due to the additional stresses brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. New research shows that:

·       almost three in 10 drinkers (28 per cent) have found themselves drinking more in 2021, compared to 2020.

·       around one in six drinkers (17 per cent) feel concerned about the amount they have been drinking since the removal of COVID-19 restrictions in the summer.

·       a quarter (25 per cent) would like to reduce the amount they drink in 2022

Councillor Anne Hetherington, Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing, at South Tyneside Council, said: "We know that the challenges of Covid have resulted in many people drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol.

"But a new year means a new start and Dry January is the perfect time for people to re-set their relationship with alcohol. Just one month off alcohol can deliver real benefits. It can help lower blood pressure, reduce diabetes risk, lower cholesterol, and reduce levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood. People who take part in Dry January also report improved mood and sleep, weight loss and financial savings too. Many also go on to reduce their drinking on a long-term basis.

"I would encourage everyone to give themselves the best start this new year and Try Dry."

It's estimated around four in 10 people in the North East - or around 855,000 people - have been drinking above the Chief Medical Officer's guidance of no more than 14 units a week - enough to significantly raise the risks from alcohol.

As well as supporting Dry January Balance the North East Alcohol programme will also be launching for the first time a New Year health harms alcohol campaign to warn that alcohol causes cancers of the breast, bowel, mouth and throat. It comes as the region has seen the worst rate of alcohol deaths in the country.

Susan Taylor, Head of Alcohol Policy for Balance, said: "It can be hard to break drinking habits but millions of people will be doing Dry January and hoping to feel the benefits. Taking a month off alcohol can give you more energy, make you feel more positive, sleep better and help you lose weight. People who take part often say they feel invigorated and don't miss a night drinking.

"Equally important is that taking time off alcohol can help reset your relationship with alcohol and help you cut down your drinking longer term. However stressful things might feel, alcohol is never the answer and never going to make us feel better. Too much alcohol raises the risks of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. It is fantastic to see how many people took part last January and we hope thousands of people give it a go again this year.

She added: "As well as supporting Dry January, this year Balance will also be launching an alcohol health harms campaign from December 27. This to counter the worrying numbers of people drinking at risky levels in our region. We know people who are more aware of the risks are more likely to take a break from drinking.  Just like tobacco, alcohol causes cancer and people have a right to know this."

2022 is a chance for a new start. A month off alcohol can deliver real benefits, such as lower blood pressure, reduce diabetes risk, lower cholesterol, and reduce levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood.

A break from alcohol can also help you lose weight. A standard glass of red or white wine can contain around 160 calories (Alcohol Change) - that's around four Jaffa cakes (Fitbit). And a pint of 5% lager can have around 220 calories (Alcohol Change) - the same as a Mars Bar and nearly as many as a McDonald's hamburger (Fitbit).

Dr Richard Piper, Chief Executive of Alcohol Change UK, said: "We know that things are feeling uncertain at the moment and lots of us will be looking for ways to try to cope. As the pandemic continues to take its toll, research consistently shows that, for many people who were already drinking heavily, our drinking habits may have taken a turn for the worse.

"With many of us experiencing heightened levels of stress, it's hardly surprising that some of us might be drinking more without realising.

"The good news is that being in control of our drinking can improve our overall health and wellbeing. And that's where Dry January® comes in. It offers the opportunity for a total reset. 31 days to try something new. Sleep better and have more energy, improve your mental health and concentration, look fabulous and get brighter skin, save money and feel an amazing sense of achievement.

"What's more, over 70 per cent of people who do Dry January® continue to drink less six months later - so it's an investment in your health and happiness year-round. "Dry January® isn't about giving something up. It's about getting something back."

In November, Balance launched the Alcohol Causes Cancer campaign to highlight that alcohol can cause at least seven types of cancer including breast, bowel, mouth and throat cancer. The North East experiences the country's highest rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospital admissions in the country.

For anyone dependent on alcohol, stopping drinking can be dangerous. Call Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 or speak to a GP who will be able to get help for you to reduce your drinking safely.

To find alcohol treatment services locally visit

Last modified: 12 January 2022 13:52