A health expert has argued that Dry January might actually do "more harm than good" and said that, despite it's popularity, "it doesn't necessarily mean it's effective".
Ian Hamilton, a lecturer at York University, said that alcohol abstinence campaigns like Dry January might mean well, but they could also have unintended consequences.
He believes people could be encouraged to view their 31 days of abstinence as an excuse to return to hazardous levels of consumption once February hits.
He also said that it is unclear which age group the campaign is specifically targeting, which "risks the message of not being heard".
Discussing his concerns in the British Medical Journal, Hamilton said he was concerned by the lack of evidence that such campaigns work.
He also said that while the campaign is popular among people - more than two million people cut down their drinking in January last year, according to the Dry January campaign led by Alcohol Concern - it doesn't necessarily make it effective.
Hamilton continued his argument by saying that this type of campaign "has had no rigorous evaluation".
He said it is not clear who Dry January is targeting and this "risks the message of not being heard".
For example, trying to communicate a message about alcohol to the over 65s at the same time as the under 25s might not work, “as the way these groups use alcohol is likely to be different".
Additionally, he said that many people can be "economical with the truth" when it comes to how much they drink.
"If people aren’t honest with themselves about their drinking, how can Dry January help?" he added.
Furthering his argument, he said that campaigns like Dry January risk sending out an "all or nothing" message about alcohol, and could be adding to the confusion we know exists in communicating messages about alcohol.
For example, in public health advice about safe levels of alcohol consumption using recommended maximum daily or weekly units of alcohol.
He added that people might return to "hazardous levels of consumption" after Dry January, as they viewed their 31 days of abstinence as permission to drink to excess from then on.
Hamilton also pointed out that, for some heavy drinkers, abrupt abstention from alcohol can induce serious symptoms such as seizures.
"In sum... Dry January could have unintended consequences which would do more harm than good," he concluded.
In contrast, Ian Gilmore, honorary professor at Liverpool University, said that such campaigns are likely to help people at least reflect on their drinking.
He said that in the UK, our per capita consumption of alcohol has doubled over 40 years, and we have 1.5 million heavily dependent drinkers in this country.
With this in mind, he believes it is good to encourage and support those estimated two million adults who have decided to take a month off booze and reflect on their drinking.
He said an independent evaluation of 2015’s Dry January by Public Health England showed that 67% of participants said they had maintained a sustained drop in their drinking six months on.
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If you aren't the type to dive into a juice cleanse (and really, why would you?), there are plenty of other options that don't include booze. We've pulled together a drink list for every situation for some fun alternatives.
If most of your nighttime outings recently have only included bars, bar shots and pints, perhaps this is a good time to start discovering new passions and hobbies. It needn't only be tame activities like book clubs and movies — you could take this opportunity to try out rock climbing or a dance class.
It's obviously much easier to keep yourself from drinking if you don't put yourself near booze in the first place, so at least for these four weeks, find a crew who won't be guzzling any beers. Better yet, see if your usual drinking buddies want in on Dry January with you, because the moral support will help.
In a small study conducted by New Scientist, those who abstained from alcohol saw a decrease in liver fat (a precursor to liver disesase), a drop in blood glucose levels and a better quality of sleep — after only five weeks.
Here's the thing about nights without booze: they mean mornings that feel so much better. If you wake up earlier, use that time to organize your messy bedroom or go exercise. If you sleep late, just enjoy the fact that it's of a better quality than a drunken snooze.
Hitting the open road is definitely one of those things you can't do while drinking, and January is a particularly quiet (read: cheap) time to travel. Map out a quickie vacation that will not only bring you to new spots nearby, but will also ensure you don't spend that weekend avoiding bars.
Have you always rolled your eyes at parties that began at 7 p.m. because it meant a far too long night of drinking? This month, take advantage of early bird friends who like their get-togethers to start right after work, then head home at the time you would usually have been heading out.
It might be a niece or nephew, or a buddy's newborn, but there are likely some children in your life you aren't spending much time with on a regular basis. Spend some of your Dry January hanging out with them — as a bonus, it will gain a whole lot of appreciation from your friends/family.
This may be one of those benefits of not drinking you've heard of, but didn't really believe until you saw the results yourself. But it's a fact — alcohol dehydrates you, causing your blood vessels to engorge and leading to facial puffiness, according to Livestrong. This could therefore be the month to take that new profile picture, don't you think?
Most people do best when they know there's a prize at the end — figure out a way to reward yourself for the effort you've made in not drinking for a month. Whether that means going out for an extravagant meal (though less costly without the alcohol bill) or buying new clothes or gadgets, you've probably saved some cash while not drinking, so why not spend it on yourself?
Meanwhile research from the University of Sussex found that 79% of participants said they saved money, 62% said they slept better and had more energy, and 49% said they lost weight.
Gilmore said it should be stressed that the campaign is aimed at social not dependent drinkers.
"But evaluations indicate that campaigns like Dry January are being used more as a way of people examining their relationship with alcohol and making longer term changes," he explained.
Release of the UK chief medical officers’ guidelines on drinking is timely, he added, with their emphasis on having several alcohol-free days each week. This, he believes, should be a focus for further research.
But until we know of something better, "let’s support growing grass-roots movements like Dry January... and take a month off".
What do you think of Dry January? Let us know in the comments below.