One in seven UK adults is planning to abstain from drinking in January 2023, according to a survey by Alcohol Change UK.
An estimated 8.8m people said they were planning to take part in Dry January, up from 8m last year. Three out of ten said they also planned to drink less overall next year.
A quarter of respondents reported drinking more this year than in 2021, with 16 per cent saying worries around the cost-of-living crisis had caused them to increase their drinking. One in seven added that they’d prioritised buying alcohol over essential items like groceries. According to the latest Health survey for England, twice as many men report regularly drinking over the chief medical officer’s 14 units a week guidelines as women (www.drinkanddrugsnews.com/ecstasy-use-halved-during-pandemic). Among young people who drink, anxiety after drinking was cited as a factor in them deciding to reduce the amount they consumed by 36 per cent of respondents. Forty per cent of under-34s reported regularly experiencing ‘hangxiety’, compared to 12 per cent of over-35s.
January 2023 will mark the tenth anniversary of Dry January. Of those planning to take part, one in three said they’d prefer to do so with Alcohol Change UK’s resources – such as the Dry January app and motivational emails – than do so on their own.
‘Over the past few years, things have been incredibly tough for so many people and the cost-of-living crisis is making things even tougher,’ said Alcohol Change UK’s director of research and public affairs Ailar Hashemzadeh. ‘This has led to more and more of us finding our drinking creeping up, particularly for those of us who were drinking more heavily to start with. Since its launch ten years ago, Dry January has provided a brilliant opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people to take a break from drinking and have a total reset.’
Meanwhile, more than 450 organisations and individuals have written to the Home Office condemning the proposals for harsh new penalties for drug possession set out in the controversial Swift, certain, tough white paper. Organised by Transform and Release, the letter has been signed by the BMA, NHS Addictions Providers Alliance, Faculty of Public Health, Association of Directors of Public Health, Change Grow Live, Addiction Professionals, Forward Trust, Kaleidoscope, With You, Turning Point, Cranstoun and others. The white paper’s proposals – which many people believe to be unworkable – include confiscating the driving licences and passports of people convicted of drug possession offences.
‘With drug-related deaths in the UK increasing the government could have chosen to use this moment to conclude that the punishment-first model is ineffective and instead to adopt an evidence based, public health attitude to illicit drug use,’ said chair of the BMA’s science board Professor David Strain. ‘Alas instead with this white paper it appears to be doubling down on a failed model by promoting ever harsher sanctions that perpetuate the stigma and shame already acting as a barrier to individuals seeking help, and ultimately discouraging drug users from seeking the healthcare services they need.’
Open letter here