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Dry January 2017 – an overview

Five years on, this campaign is the biggest yet, says Nusha from Alcohol Concern (27 January)

In 2012 we began what is now our flagship campaign at Alcohol Concern, Dry January. Since then, Dry January has gained momentum and a YouGov poll suggested that 1 in 6 of us attempted a Dry January in 2016.

The Dry January campaign is not about never drinking again; it is aimed at the social drinker, encouraging them to give up alcohol for a month and does not act as a medical detox programme! It is just a chance for people to reflect on their drinking patterns and to give their body a break after the festive period. It gives individuals an opportunity to break habits and feel the benefits from having a month off alcohol.

We’ve had some great feedback from participants over the years that suggested a month off of alcohol really can have a positive impact on your body. 79% of people reported saving money through the month, and 69% of participants detailed better sleep and more energy. In addition to this feedback, 49% also lost weight over the period. Research from the Royal Free Hospital in London has shown that there’s not only a positive effect on individuals’ appearance but also a positive effect psychologically.

Another thing that we’ve found is the ability of individuals to refuse a drink in a social situation improves. In our survey, between 60-70% of people who took part said they found it easier to refuse a drink. A great deal of feedback suggested that drinking had become a habit and that Dry January really allows individuals to re-evaluate their relationship with alcohol.

Research has also shown that Dry January is an effective behaviour change campaign. The most in-depth research yet, carried out earlier this year, showed that 67% of participants had sustained reduced levels of drinking six months after completing Dry January, 8% of whom stayed dry.

With 65,000 people signed up this year (and a community of over 46,000 on Facebook alone) we can be confident in holding the most successful Dry January yet, reaching and engaging with more people, offering them support and tips along the way.

Dry January and Beyond

This year we launched our new Dry January & Beyond app, allowing users to input their weekly average drink intake and measure how much money and how many calories they were saving each day they continued to be dry. It has become a great source of motivation for better managing calorie consumption and counting the pounds in your pocket.

Last year, we piloted the Dry January app and with over 1,000 people continuing to use it after Dry January was over, our new app is designed up be useful and effective all year round! We’ve even created a Premium version for those who want some extra features, such as, customising the drinks and pricing more specifically and receiving more app articles.

New partnerships

This year, we have launched a new initiative with Virgin Money Giving where Dry January participants can choose to fundraise for us and a charity (or 3!) of their choice, splitting all the funds evenly. This unique partnership allows charities to work together on a campaign and see through shared goals. The partnership has been positively received and charities are promoting the Dry January campaign through their own networks. This will pave the way for an even bigger impact next year and illustrates how charities are able to work together.

How it has gone this year

This year we have 65,000 sign-ups with over 32,000 using the app globally – we’ve had great feedback about it from across the pond in the USA and down under in Australia! We had more than 300 workplaces promoting the campaign and encouraging their employees to sign up to Dry January, as well as creating online communities of their own to offer support to one another.

Bring on Dry January 2018!