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Why Dry January might NOT be the best way to quit drinking

While many of us started out in January determined to quit drinking for an entire month, the daily stresses of life may have made some of us slip and indulge in a sneaky drink.

But it’s not all bad news for those who have fallen off the wagon, as one expert has argued that a drink-free month may not be the best way to cut your alcohol intake in the long run.

London-based alcohol abuse coach Sandra Parker, who leads Just The Tonic Coaching, believes not drinking alcohol for a month is a ‘terrible idea’ if you want to change your drinking habits.

Going alcohol-free for a whole month has undeniable benefits, but Sandra believes there are more efficient ways to drink less over a longer period of time.

An alcohol abuse coach claims simply not drinking alcohol for a month is a 'terrible idea' if you want to change your drinking habits in the long term (stock image)

An alcohol abuse coach claims simply not drinking alcohol for a month is a ‘terrible idea’ if you want to change your drinking habits in the long term (stock image)

“The only long-term solution to gaining control over alcohol without relying on willpower or feeling deprived is to examine the reasons you drink,” she said.

“Most people drink too much to self-medicate, to avoid uncomfortable emotions. Working with an expert can help you identify the subconscious beliefs about alcohol that hold you back and help you change them.

‘Ultimately, this results in a mentality change in which you no longer need alcohol, but can take it or leave it alone.

“And that’s a magical place to be, because zero craving for alcohol is zero temptation and zero hardship.”

London-based alcohol abuse coach Sandra Parker (pictured) leads Just The Tonic Coaching

London-based alcohol abuse coach Sandra Parker (pictured) leads Just The Tonic Coaching

London-based alcohol abuse coach Sandra Parker (pictured) leads Just The Tonic Coaching

Sandra moved to central London in her early twenties, where she embarked on a successful business career and adopted a ‘work hard, play hard’ attitude, with most of her social events centered around booze.

When she reached her 40s, Sandra wanted to pursue a healthier lifestyle and started exercising regularly, taking yoga classes and dumping processed foods.

Despite her best efforts, Sandra still felt out of control over her drinking and eventually managed to quit drinking altogether with the help of podcasts and online coaching sessions. in 2018.

She explained that during her childhood she often tried to commit to Dry January, but would plan a big night out on February 1 and would never make it to the end of the month without booze.

“If someone suggests doing ‘Dry January,’ if you’re a regular drinker, chances are you’ll be conflicted between wanting to cut down and the daunting prospect of getting through all of January, not exactly the happiest time.” of the year, alcohol-free. I can relate to this,” she said.

‘In my drinking days I always thought that dry January was a form of sick torture invented by some spoilsport to get some remnant pleasure from an already miserable month.

Millions drink up to FIFTY units a week after alcohol consumption surges during the pandemic

Lockdown has resulted in millions of Britons putting their health at risk by drinking up to 50 units of alcohol a week, new research revealed this week.

Professor Julia Sinclair, chair of the addiction faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the switch to drinking at home was partly responsible for the rise, as drinking sessions can last hours longer than in a pub.

The study used a score called Audit, developed by the World Health Organization, to rate problem drinking. Audit takes into account a range of factors, including how often people drink and how many units they consume during a session to determine whether they fall into “increasing” or “higher” risk categories.

It found that the number of Britons whose alcohol consumption puts them at risk rose to eight million in October last year – up from six million in October 2019.

“And there was no way a sane person would get through the month without alcohol.

“I never made it through the month and I always planned a big night out on February 1st, to celebrate the end of January.

“As a coach who specializes in helping people to drink less or not at all, this may seem strange, but I actually think Dry January is a terrible idea.”

Sandra believes that stopping alcohol altogether for a month makes booze more out of reach, which is why you tend to crave it more.

“Because it reinforces the belief that you have to use superhuman willpower to resist alcohol and completely ignores the underlying reasons why we feel the need to drink,” Sandra said.

“Not only does alcohol look like some sort of magically forbidden elixir, and most people can’t wait until January is over to drink again, often more than before.”

Research conducted by the University of Sussex found that 70% of people tended to drink less six months after completing Dry January, and also reported an increased level of well-being.

However, Sandra disputes that Dry January automatically means you’re likely to drink less.

She cited research from Ian Hamilton, a lecturer in mental health and addiction at the University of York, who claims: ‘The millions of people who are applying are the millions of people who probably don’t have that big of a problem with alcohol. , so they find it relatively easy.’

She also refers to Colin Drummond, a professor of substance abuse psychiatry at King’s College London, who noted, “There has been remarkably little appreciation for campaigns like Dry January,” and that such initiatives are “blunt tools” that work best for lighter drinkers. .

Sandra says that for heavy drinkers, cutting back on alcohol consumption will take time and usually expert help, and that resisting your cravings for a month is often not enough to deal with long-term problems.

‘This doesn’t happen overnight and for the best results you need expert help. And it does require that you are willing to be vulnerable, to clarify what you are holding on to.

“But if you’ve been trying for a long time and can’t control alcohol on your own, and you’ve already given up on Dry January, this could be the solution you’re looking for. ‘


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