Very Few People Manage ‘Dry January’
A study has found that very few people who try to give up alcohol in January actually manage it.
The study from the University of Bristol found little evidence of reduced alcohol intake six months later.
Annual break from booze
January is a popular time of year for people to re-assess their alcohol intake and try to reduce it during that month – with the intention being that it will help them to reduce the amount they drink longer term.
‘Dry January’ can be annual break from the booze, or the start of a resolution to cut down more generally.
Cut down on drinking
The University of Bristol researchers looked at the drinking habits of nearly 3,000 people. They were interviewed by the researchers and 20% said they wanted to cut down their drinking. Various reasons were given for wanting to cut back, including to lose weight, to improve fitness, to save money and to reduce their risk of having health problems.
The researchers asked questions to assess the frequency that the people drank alcohol, the quantity consumed on a typical day and the frequency of binge drinking (defined as the number of occasions on which six or more standard drinks were consumed).
Reduction in consumption
Those who were motivated to cut down on alcohol were more likely to reduce their consumption initially.
However, when the researchers followed the same people up six months later, those who had not made plans to cut down on their drinking had reduced their alcohol consumption by the same amount as those who had made plans to cut back. The only exception noted was higher‐risk and possibly dependent drinkers.
The researchers said that that: “increasing and higher‐risk drinkers who are highly motivated to reduce consumption also tend to consume more than the average at the initial survey, and do not reduce their consumption despite their reported motivation and attempts to cut down.”
Motivation not enough
The researchers concluded that despite good intentions, more is required for people to actually follow through with a long-term reduction in alcohol consumption.
“Our findings suggest that being motivated to reduce alcohol consumption is insufficient to achieve measurable change in consumption, implying that interventions may focus more usefully upon other factors important to drinking reduction, and that motivation is not a reliable outcome of intervention effectiveness.”
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