A top liver specialist has warned Dry January can provide the “perfect decoy” for problem drinkers.
Dr Mark Wright, a consultant in liver medicine at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said the month long detox was not a “fix all solution”.
He called for more emphasis on consistent moderate consumption throughout the year – and likened Dry January to “trying to solve all your financial problems by living like a hermit for a month”.
The initiative was launched by Alcohol Concern in 2013 and urges people to abstain from alcohol for a month following the festive period.
Latest figures show 7,697 people died from alcohol-specific causes in the UK during 2017 – the highest number since 2008 – with alcohol-specific deaths among women at the highest level since 2001.
“Giving up alcohol for a dry January as some sort of detox is like maxing out your credit cards all year and thinking you can solve your financial problems by living like a hermit for a month,” said Dr Wright, who is based at Southampton General Hospital.
"It just isn't going to make things better if you then go back to your usual habits in February.
"Many people who die from alcohol-related causes would not have considered themselves to have had a drink problem, just that they drank too much on a regular basis.
“The danger is that abstaining for a month can make it seem like people have a grip on their levels of drinking but, in fact, it can be the perfect decoy to justify drinking far too much in the festive season with increased intake for the rest of the year – it is not a fix all solution.
“What people need to do is be aware of their consumption all year round, aiming to stick at about 14 units per week with three to four dry days.”
He added: “That said, a dry January does give people an opportunity to examine their relationship with alcohol. If anyone is planning a dry January and they only manage a few days, they should consider that they may have more of a problem with booze than they think.”
Posted on Monday 31 December 2018