Many people have heard of "January Dry", the annual initiative to stop drinking for the first month of the New Year. But we have 12 months in a year. Is it worth it to "dry dry" for 30 days?
Would this have an impact on your health? Will it make a difference in the long run?
It all depends on the person.
We asked Dr. Frank McGeorge, a health journalist and emergency physician, for answers.
What is the problem with all these studies? One day, we read that alcohol could help you live longer, and then we always hear that a little red wine is good for the heart, but this summer, researchers said there was NO safe level of alcohol consumption. Which give?
McGeorge explained that in the last study that we refer to, published in The Lancet, researchers said there was no level of safe drinking – and that drinking was bad regardless of amount.
The problem with this study, said McGeorge, is that she looked at everyone around the world and looked at several statistics at once, all together. For example, researchers took into account the risk of impaired driving – for everyone.
Of course, if you regularly come out of your home and you are intoxicated, then you drive a car, your risk of driving while intoxicated is probably high. But if you are a housewife who drinks from time to time with a dinner, the risk is low, again, compared to impaired driving. The study also took into account other risk factors, but overall it was almost too broad.
In terms of the risks associated with alcohol, it all depends on the person who drinks.
Anyway, abstaining from alcohol for a month could be the start of something positive … no?
Sure. It certainly could not hurt. Think of it like this, McGeorge said: A time to recalibrate.
It's like taking inventory on your body.
Cutting alcohol for a month will help you understand what your life looks like with and without it. If you find that after, or even during, an experience like this, that you have tremors, that your mood is bad and that you are more direct and unhappy without alcohol, then you may have really an alcohol problem.
Maybe alcohol moderated your behavior. In the longer term, if you avoided drinking, you could return to a more normal life. That's because the symptoms we just mentioned sound like proof of withdrawal, said McGeorge.
There is also some evidence to suggest that people who did Dry January generally reduced their alcohol intake after interrupting it for a month. It seems that they have reconfigured themselves and realized their most appropriate level of consumption. A month off can really recalibrate everything in your mind and body.
Drinking also disrupts your sleep cycles and affects your ability to sleep well. So maybe you'll have a better night's sleep with alcohol completely outside your system.
Just remember that alcohol is not quite bad, said McGeorge. Do not turn this into an all-or-nothing mentality.
"It's fair to say that drinking alcohol for your health is not a well recommendation, "said McGeorge." As a doctor, I would not say, "You should start drinking a drink a day." This is not a logical choice because I can not sufficiently weigh the risk factors individuals to find out what is good for some. "
But it all comes down to these individual risk factors.
Nevertheless, if you drink responsibly and have a positive experience – there may be some social interaction in which it helps or helps you relax – of course, there is no harm in continuing to do, said McGeorge.
Yes, some studies and schools of thought contradict each other, but when we talk about alcohol, it's a little different than talking about smoking, for example, the doctor pointed out.
"There is no evidence that smoking is good for you – zero," McGeorge said. "Alcohol is not in the same vein. Alcohol has a mixed risk advantage. You just need to understand what are your risks and benefits and moderate your consumption accordingly. Everything is neither good nor bad, it's something in between, depending on your personal risk, your behavior and your behavioral factors.
"… Alcohol has made its way into society where occasional occasional light to moderate drinking is more likely safe and beneficial than harmful. Avoid alcohol because you are afraid of it or because you fear it is unhealthy – it's probably inaccurate. "
"All or nothing" in the case of consumption really should not be your state of mind, unless of course you are an alcoholic, in which case you really should be at "nothing". You do not want to risk your sobriety and your relapse, said McGeorge.
"But cutting alcohol" just because "is probably not necessary for the average citizen," said McGeorge.
And some final notes …
Do not forget that alcohol contains a lot of calories. You must take this into account if you monitor your caloric intake.
And if you crave alcohol, it's probably unhealthy. If you arrive at a point where you can no longer function without being intoxicated, it is clearly unhealthy. If your alcohol consumption causes a situation in which you behave inappropriately or if it interferes with your personal or professional life, it is considered a disorder, the doctor said.
But if you are curious or want to better understand your body and your health, try a month without it. Perhaps you will be exactly the same. You may realize that you buy two bottles a week, which may be a bit expensive, said McGeorge. But we will also add our interpretation to his answers: do not feel obliged to abstain. And hey, if you are not concerned about your alcohol consumption, it's probably a good sign too.
Would you ever try an experiment like this? Let us know in the comments.
Graham Media Group 2019