With the start of a new year upon us and people’s good intentions taking full effect (for now anyway!), experts have warned about the risk that taking part in one popular resolution can bring. Dry January is a campaign that was started by the charity Alcohol Change UK in 2013. As people take part, they pledge to be alcohol-free for the entirety of the first month of the year.
However, experts have warned of the dangers of going “cold turkey” with alcohol especially after the excess of the festive season. While around 130,000 people took part in Dry January at the start of 2021, and even more are expected to take up the challenge this year, for those with alcohol dependency issues, there is a need to be careful when it comes to removing the booze from their lives.
Dr Gillian Shorter, a psychologist specialising in alcohol and drug research at Queen’s University, Belfast, told the Belfast Telegraph: “I was actually looking at the official Dry January website and I couldn’t see anything that really said, if you are alcohol dependent, maybe Dry January isn’t for you.
“So for people who are drinking several drinks a day for a month or more, or if you stop drinking for a couple of hours and you find yourself sweating, shaking, sometimes hallucinating and maybe having more severe effects like seizures, then it’s really not a good idea for you to stop suddenly.”
She continued: “What you should do is really try and sort of reduce the risk of harm slowly. And if you’re able to do it in collaboration, with either detox – which can be hard enough to get – or speaking to your GP, to get a bit of support, because there are medications and things that you can get, that will really help with just kind of withdrawal and so on and so forth.
“But you shouldn’t stop cold turkey. It’s really, really dangerous, and can result in death for people who do have a physical dependence on alcohol.”
This may seem extreme advice regarding Dry January, but as there are as many as 589,000 people in the UK dependent on alcohol according to the UK Health Security Agency, it could be very useful for a lot of people. A survey done by YouGov in January suggested a third of people who had attempted to stay away from booze had already given up in the first week.
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