Why I’m not going Sober for October – and you shouldn’t either

 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve more than likely heard this ominous phase mentioned somewhere. Most likely on the FB or twitter profile of a mate who you know for a fact was drinking doubles on the back end of the bank holiday Sunday and spent the next day sleeping off the effects or nursing them with the hair of the dog.

 

And it drives me absolutely bonkers.

 

 

I doubt many of us can hand-on-heart say we didn‘t over-do it over the bank hols. I certainly find negotiating my waistline into my jeans a little harder and yeah, my liver is probably crying for help. But I’m not going to participate in a self-imposed month-long prohibition, and neither should you.

 

Because, well, there’s just about zero proof it does you any good. While not drinking for 31 days probably won’t do you any harm (I can’t vouch for that but I suspect my thirst for beer would become down right painful), there isn’t exactly a body of evidence to show that it has any actual benefits either. And besides, a single month won’t help you if your liver’s shot.

 

 

For a heavy drinker, a short period of abstinence will have no impact on, say, liver disease which develops over around 30 years. And if you’re a modest tippler, then your liver only needs a few days to recover, not a whole month. Any evidence that going off the sauce for a month has any long-term positive results is seriously lacking — especially if participants return to their original drinking habits after the month is over.

 

So this month long abstention doesn’t really provide any lasting benefits – besides the joy of tweeting and infuriating all your unfortunate friends about your abstention of course. And that’s an issue on its own: no one seems to be able to suffer through their abstinence in private, on their own time. Nope, they fill their social media feeds with it, forcing those, who might be taking a more sensible approach to the effects of periodic overindulgence, to live through their plight with them. They’re like the ex-smoker who constantly wants to tell their still smoking friends how much better their life is now they stopped smoking… and trust me when I tell you; no one thinks they are helpful. In fact, everyone hates them.

 

 

And that’s not even the worst thing. It’s not just that a month long break is utterly pointless and in most cases, extremely annoying, it’s that it’s actually seriously bad for the pub trade.

 

I mean think about it. If you were running a business to which you on a monthly basis commit to purchase goods (beer, wine, the works) for your customers to consume and once or twice (#drynuary has a lot to answer for too) year your establishment is completely empty because everyone is exercising a self-imposed booze ban, you’d be screwed. Imagine if you’re a brewer who makes the beer for sale and no one can buy it because there’s no one to drink it. That does not a sustainable business model make. I mean who can seriously afford to do closer to zero business for 2 out of 12 months?

 

 

Someone once told me that a pub is like the centre of our community, and I believe they are right. I also believe that it is the responsibility of that community to ensure that they survive. I mean sure, the landlord has to make sure their stock stands up to scrutiny, their establishments are welcoming and pleasant enough to visit, but if they keep their end of the deal then the community needs to keep theirs. Or face the possibility that the community hub will be no more.

 

It’s not baseless fearmongering. The number of pubs fell by 1,444 in the UK in 2015 (despite an overall decline in pub closures) and some 1,088 pubs closed in the six months from June to December 2015. How much do you recon people deciding not to visit two months a year affects to those numbers? It might not be the final nail in the coffin but it definitely is a contributing factor.

 

Especially seeing that the self-imposed month-long prohibition doesn’t even have any lasting benefits.

 

 

If you seriously think you need to re-evaluate your relationship with booze after a period of over-indulgence, you may want to try moderation. It might not have a catchy name or a convenient hashtag, but it’s a safer and more effective alternative; just try controlling the amount you drink over a long period of time. Oh, and eat a healthy diet containing plenty of fruit and veg, cut down on portion sizes, sugar and fat, drink lots of water and take regular exercise. So yeah. Cutting booze out for a few weeks isn’t really going to give you or your liver the amount of TLC the sadly super popular hashtag is letting on.

 

And you know what? Beer and wine (in moderation) are actually, scientifically and provably, good for you. Virginia Tech researchers found that regular, moderate beer drinkers were 19% less likely to die during a given time period than people who never touch a drop. A recent study found Xanthohumol, a compound in the hops used to flavour beer, is able to protect the brain from degenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In one British study, those who drank roughly a glass of wine a day reduced by 11% their risk of infection by Helicobacter pylori bacteria – a major cause of gastritis, ulcers, and stomach cancers. As little as half a glass may also guard against food poisoning caused by germs like salmonella when people are exposed to contaminated food, according to a Spanish study.

 

 

And a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that women who had one alcoholic drink a day were less likely to find their mental faculties declining as they grow older. So there is that.

 

Now. I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t give to charities (which the GoSober campaign is supporting) but you don’t need to give your pub traders, brewers, wine merchants and yes, sometimes friendships the kiss of death while doing so. If you want to donate to the charity you can do so HERE. Give generously.

 

And then go to the pub. Because isn’t it better to enjoy your favourite things, supporting your local communities and businesses, all the while ensuring you still have that community hub to enjoy many a year to come?

 

Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

 

  • I’ve heard that Beer is good for the health, hair and the like. Love that hashtag #trynuary 🙂 Well said!

  • I’ve never really been one to take part in any of these abstentions at the beginning of the year and after reading this, I’m glad I haven’t! I love your tongue in cheek attitude about it all, well said!

  • I used to drink all the time but recently just switched to wine. It does the drink and I don’t feel awful in the AM

  • Elizabeth O.

    I had no idea this existed! I don’t drink a lot, but it’s not something that I’d pass up on just to feel good about myself. I think it’s completely up to you.

  • I must be living under a rock, I’ve never heard of this phrase before. I think that people should do what they want anyway, who cares about drinking or not drinking, right? If you feel like it then just go ahead.

  • Honestly both me & my husband don’t drink and I really don’t have any idea about these. I am all about tea, coffee & juices, but I am sure this will be so exciting an useful for wine lovers!

  • Thanks of the very entertaining article – I have found it really interesting and useful. That said – I am continuing with my break from booze – so far i’m not missing it but I’m sure that will change!

  • Haha! I’ve never heard of that before! I don’t really drink alchool, so I’m surely bad for the business!! 🙂 But if you give me a glass of warm red wine with spices during winter time, I won’t say no!!

  • I’ve always had a take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward drinking. When my husband was in grad school, there were a lot of parties on the weekends. But during the weekdays, no. That was 20 years ago. Now, if…big IF…I drink, it takes me at least six weeks (but usually 8 or more) to get through a bottle of port.

  • I am not drinking so much, but i always appreciate a glass of good wine when i am out for dinner. I can drink beer only in hot summer nights though.

  • I never knew this was even a thing. I am not a heavy drinker or much of one at all. It will take me over 6 months to finish a bottle of tequila if my husband hadn’t already finished it.

  • We aren’t huge drinkers. We occasionally have drinks with friends and stuff, but not enough to have to partake in something like dryuary. I’m glad people see it as a way to jump start their habit though.

  • Fortunately or unfortunately I’m not a big drinker. I’ll have a drink here and there to celebrate or to forget the hectic day with the kids. Other than thay, my pub crawling days are well and truly gone. However, I do agree that people should be true to themselves and give up for personal reasons and not plaster it on social media.

  • I think it helps you lose weight if you stop drinking… but you’d have to stick with it or it’ll pack back on.

  • This is a thing? I guess I am totally out of loop of trends. I have to agree with you. I feel like most of them will stop drinking for the month and then binge drink afterwards.

  • You are so right, we need to enjoy our lives, whether we drink or not! I think I may go for a quiet drink tonight 🙂

  • Seriously been living under a rock cause it’s the first time I hear the term Drynuary!!! hahaha love it!
    Maybe because I was sick during the holiday season and didn’t drink that much…for once! good thing though! I dont need to do the drynuary diet!hihi

  • I have to take a second here to disagree on the idea that taking a month away from drinking doesn’t have ANY lasting benefits. For some people, taking a month away from drinking is what’s needed to make them realize they were drinking way too much before. That month of being totally clear of alcohol is what shows you how much better life is when you don’t feel like your head’s three sizes too big and about to fall off every weekend morning, and how much richer your mornings can be when you don’t spend them paying the price of drinking too much the night before.

    Not that I’d advocate for an alcohol-free existence, mind you – I am a writer, after all, and I live by the goblet of wine that puts me to sleep most nights. But as to their being NO lasting benefits of a month of quitting? There are.

    • My God, the there/their typo in this comment. That’s what I get for using voice-to-text. Oy.

  • I haven’t been drinking since 20th of June 2016 anything that contains alcohol and oh boy I can’t wait to have a good glass of red wine when I’m able to haha 😀 Never tried drynuary though, I don’t really think that often that it would make any difference in my drinking habits haha 😀

    ♥ Jasmin N | Little Things With Jassy

  • I am only into red wine with Melatonin that had a lot of health benefits for us. I always drink a glass of it before bed that I may have a good night sleep.

    • This sounds amazing! I need to look into melatonin red wine. Cheers bubb! xx

  • I have to admit that I love wine so much that it would be pure pain to decide having a drynuary. However I am mostly busy with my work, workouts, etc. that I usually drink alcohol 1-4 times a month and usually that means a class of wine with dinner so I don’t think there is a need for a completely dry month (and spamming everyone’s social with that haha). 🙂

    Nora / http://dreamerachiever.com

  • Informative post and I respect your opinion. Thankfully, I rarely drink Alcohol. I’m a water, tea, and smoothie girl all the way! :p

  • Laura

    I lived in England for a while and the pub trade was the centre of their community. I didn’t really like that though. Sure, Aussies drink, but we do it at home a lot or with bbqs / dinner etc. Sometimes a month to reset is good to break habits. If you can’t go a month without alcohol, perhaps it has become a bit addictive?

    • I think that’s completely not the point though – a month without alcohol has pretty much zero affect on anything, to your health or to your habits, as the research shows. Pubs are places where the British eat, socialise and drink, in that order, and I don’t think doing the same in the same quantities at home is in any way “healthier”.

  • I don’t drink at all, I prefer tea and homemade lemon juice but my husband does and he will like this article

  • Ha! I must live under a rock because I’ve never heard of this (then again, I don’t drink either). If someone decides to drink (or not), so be it, it’s on them.

    I’m like you, I don’t want to read about their habits all over social media because quite frankly, I don’t care lol

  • I work in hospitality so none of my friends are doing this… which I have to say is a relief because I love to socialize while sampling a new cocktail or checking out a new bar!

  • I really like red wine and an occassional gin & tonic but I have vowed off alcohol for next two months and that makes me feel better.

  • Honestly, I’m not a big alcohol drinker. I have a cocktail now and again, but I’ve never liked wine or beer. I stick to my Diet Coke and water.

  • I work in a country pub and trade is AWFUL for us at the moment. We have less customers coming through the door, and even when they do they spend a heck of a lot less. Thankfully we had a good Christmas period, otherwise Dry January could be seriously threatening us right now

    Steph – http://www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

    • This is exactly what I mean – it’s ludicrous to threaten our community hubs for the sake of a self imposed prohibition that has zero affect on our health or our habits. Nonesense, I say!

  • Isonor

    I’m a moderate drinker who has had to reduce to a hardly ever drinker for health reasons, including the effect of alcohol on blood pressure, and I’m not alone. Perhaps all the pubs and bars should embrace the trend by selling something more interesting for the less-totaller than sugar laden juice mixes. Until then I will be spending my nearly dry January, February, March…. making ‘mocktails’ at home.

  • Kat

    I love the name of your blog, Katja:D I understand English is not your first language? It’s impressive how good your posts are! I’ve never been enthusiast of drinking, so resolution like that wouldn’t make any difference in my life:)

  • I must admit, I couldn’t go without my daily glass of wine. Especially with my daughter turning into a three-nager!

  • KCNoxid

    You’ll never catch me drinking.

    • I’m watching you drink right now.

      • KCNoxid

        Only coffee

  • robin masshole mommy

    Well, I don’t drink , so I am just over here drinking my water 😉 I think it’s good to refrain from drinking, though – it’s such a waste of calories.

    • Beer actually has less calories than milk and way more antioxidants too. So not really that empty, I wouldn’t say xxx