Sign up for a dry January after all the festive excesses

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Residents are being urged to sign up for an alcohol-free January to enjoy the benefits associated with cutting out the booze.

Dry January is an opportunity to reflect on any Christmas excess and start the New Year with a challenge to prove to yourself that you can say no to alcohol.

The final Friday before Christmas traditionally sees start of the festive celebrations as many people finish their work and study for the holiday; unfortunately this also creates high demand across many services.

Last year on Friday, December 20, national alcohol sales reached an annual peak, rising by 114 per cent, with £3.7billion spent on alcohol in December alone.

Meanwhile, Central Bedfordshire figures show that:

• An estimated one in five people binge drink

• On average, one person a month dies as a direct result of alcohol misuse, e.g. liver damage and accidental poisoning

• On average, seven people are admitted to hospital every day because of alcohol related conditions, e.g. cancers, injuries, alcohol related assaults, cardiovascular diseases, falls and mental health problems

The Dry January campaign is a national initiative, run by Alcohol Concern, to encourage people to ‘take a holiday from booze’ after the festive period, which also benefits their wallet, waistline and general health.

Over 17,000 people across the UK took part in Dry January in 2014 and many reported that taking a month-long break from alcohol acted as a reset button concerning their alcohol use for months afterwards, not only helping people to drink less per drinking day but also to drink less frequently.

Central Bedfordshire Cllr Carole Hegley, the Executive Member for Social Care, Health and Housing, said: “We all want to enjoy Christmas but for many the New Year can arrive with a sense that they’ve over-indulged.

“It is always important to be mindful of alcohol consumption anyway, but the Dry January campaign is more about the other benefits that come as part of taking a holiday from drinking. Signing up is an ideal way to tie in with the New Year’s resolutions of people aiming to become healthier or save money.

“Central Bedfordshire Council’s Community Alcohol Liaison Service (CALS) team already provides some great support services which will be on offer throughout the during of the campaign.

“During the month they will be manning Dry January stands and giving face-to-face information and guidance on all aspects relating to drinking. These will take place simultaneously at various locations including the three main Central Bedfordshire Council offices at Priory House in Chicksands, Watling House in Dunstable and Houghton Lodge in Ampthill.

“Our Facebook and @letstalkcentral Twitter pages, in combination with the #DryJanuary2015 hashtag, will also have advice throughout the month .”

Dry January stands (at council offices, unless stated):

• Tuesday 6th January, 10am-4pm

• Thursday 8th January, 10am-4pm

• Friday 9th January, 10am-4pm

• Friday 16th January, 10am-4pm

• Tuesday 20th January, 10am-4pm

• Wednesday 21st January, 10am-4pm

• Friday 23rd January, 10-4pm, Swannery Resturant-Bedford Hospital

• TBC Cranfield University

There will also be information available via www.dryjanuary.co.uk and Jackie Ballard, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, said: “In the run up to Christmas many people start drinking more than usual as they celebrate the festive season with parties and get-togethers.

“This is the perfect time to sign up to a holiday from alcohol. Dry January is not about never drinking again. It’s just an opportunity for people to reflect on their drinking patterns and to give their body a break from alcohol after the festive period. We know from previous years that people who do Dry January will feel better, lose weight and save money.”

To sign up for Alcohol Concern’s Dry January and register for tips and tools to make the most of the month, people should visit www.dryjanuary.org.uk