The idea of taking a month to detox the body from drinking, smoking and alcohol has grown in popularity over recent years, and charity organisations like Febfast have picked up on the idea in order to raise funds from peoples’ temporary teetotalling. July sees the beginning of Dry July, but aside raising money for a worthy charity, what can participants hope to gain from a month without alcohol?
What is Dry July?
Dry July started in 2008, and raised over $250,000 in its first year to help adults living with cancer. Participants give up alcohol for the month of July and are sponsored for doing so, with all the money going to the Dry July charity. Since its inception, 90,000 people have taken part and raised over $20 million in total.
Why give up alcohol?
Alcohol consumption in Australia is a well-established social norm, as described in this article about the negative side to drinking. Alcohol is also widely consumed in many social situations, from informal barbecues to formal ceremonial occasions. While it is relaxing and confidence boosting to have a drink or two, over consumption of alcohol can cause a number of preventable health problems.
What does alcohol do to the body?
It may be simpler to ask what it doesn’t do, as alcohol has potentially negative long and short term effects on almost every organ in the body, from slowing down brain function to drying out skin, as explained in depth by Drinkwise. It has particularly pronounced effects on the liver, which does the bulk of the processing to get alcohol out of the bloodstream, with chronic over users of alcohol often developing cirrhosis of the liver. Alcohol has also been linked with various cancers, problems with the digestive system, and even ongoing infertility issues.
Will stopping for a month help?
Any reduction in alcohol consumption can make a difference in health in the long term, but giving up completely for a month can make a difference too. While medical experts will be able to measure directly the improvement in liver function and indicators of performance in various organs, individual reports are equally convincing. Many people say they sleep better after a few days without a drink, describe having more energy, and even tackling a larger amount of daily exercise when they are off the wagon, Carla Grossetti’s article is one such example. All of this could even help you lose weight, and anecdotally improves some peoples’ sex life, too.
What about socialising?
Many people find the biggest difficulty in not drinking for any length of time the social expectations of their peers. People tend to congregate in licensed venues, drink wine with meals and even give gifts of alcohol. Being a non-drinker can be somewhat isolating due to Australia’s social expectations, as explained by Amal Awad in her article on the subject. The options are to go to events and drink something else, if options are limited, drink water, it’s the healthiest option, and everybody understands that it’s the best thing to drink when thirsty. Try other activities for a while: go to the movies, or the theatre; or go to a sporting event. If you are feeling self-conscious in an alcohol fueled situation, try to remember that it’s nobody’s business what you drink, whatever your reasoning.
Will I save money?
It all depends how much someone drinks, and what they choose to do instead. A couple of pints of beer a day can be over a hundred dollars a week in savings. If consumption is limited to only the occasional glass of wine with dinner it could be considerably less, assuming it’s one glass and not a whole bottle. Ultimately money may not be a huge motivating factor, especially if alternative entertainment options are factored in. Of course, even soft drinks cost money at a bar, so the savings are not necessarily absolute.
The last drop
It’s ultimately an individual’s decision to give up alcohol, despite the potential benefits. Events like Dry July are a good way to test the waters and donate to a good cause while hopefully improving health and saving money.