Make drinking less your New Year’s resolution in 2015, urges Swanswell
30 December 2014
Drinking less alcohol should be at the top of everyone’s New Year’s resolutions to help them feel well in 2015, according to Swanswell.
Losing weight, exercising more and giving up smoking are usually among the most popular pledges for the next 12 months, but the national recovery charity’s encouraging more people to think about their drinking habits too.
January marks the start of a national campaign – Dry January – organised by Alcohol Concern with support from Public Health England.
It aims to encourage people to give up alcohol for 31 days (it’s not advisable for dependent drinkers to take part, as it could be dangerous to suddenly stop drinking) and to reconsider their alcohol use for the rest of the year.
Around one in four people are classed as hazardous drinkers. In 2012, there were 8,367 alcohol-related deaths in the UK – the majority of all alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales (63%) were caused by alcoholic liver disease that year.
Despite this, society still sees drinking alcohol as part of everyday life. However, cutting down is not as difficult as it might seem, and there are a number of benefits to drinking less.
Alcohol contains a large number of empty calories – if a man drinks up to the governments recommended daily limit of 3 to 4 units per day (or about a pint and a half of 5% lager) five days a week, they’d have the equivalent calories of four kebabs every week.
For a woman, having a large glass of wine five days a week for example (3.3 units per glass – just over their recommended daily limit of 2 to 3 units per day), is like eating almost two pizzas every week on top of her usual diet, or 45,840 calories over the year.
So, cutting back on beers, wines and spirits will help people stay in shape over the next 12 months.
In the short term, alcohol use can disturb sleep, cause feelings of stress, loss of appetite, sweating, anxiety, and can affect judgement, so having fewer alcoholic drinks will improve health and wellbeing on a day-to-day basis.
Over time, regular alcohol use increases the risk of alcohol-related illnesses including some cancers, diabetes, and heart disease and liver problems. Cutting back can reduce those risks too.
Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘At this time of year, people start reflecting on what they’ve achieved over the last year, and what they think they should do differently in the coming 12 months.
‘So it’s a great time to review last year’s alcohol use and consider how drinking less can improve your life in 2015 – there are so many health benefits to cutting down and you’ll feel the benefit in your pocket too, as drinking less will cost you less.
‘But, don’t set unrealistic challenges like cutting alcohol out completely for the year – set smaller goals and reduce gradually to help you feel happier by the end of the year. Get your friends and family involved too – why not make it a group challenge?
‘If alcohol use is becoming a problem though, it’s a good time to take the first step and speak to organisations such as Swanswell, who can offer non-judgemental help and advice.’