A New Study Shows Giving Up Alcohol for a Month Can Unlock Lasting Health Benefits

Man drinking pint of beer
 Sally Anscombe/Getty Images

You might consider doing a Dry January—going the entire month without picking up a pint of beer or that whiskey you got as a gift—as a way to detox after a couple months of holiday boozing. And although that’s certainly a worthy goal, emerging research suggests the benefits of giving up alcohol for a month go a lot further than a simple post-holiday reset. A new study from the University of Sussex in the UK shows taking part in Dry January can bring about a host of health benefits, like improved sleep, more energy, and weight loss.

 

 

The study followed 800 people who participated in Dry January last year and checked in with them over the course of the year. Researchers found those who gave up booze for a month reported drinking less, even seven months later. Even more striking, the participants reported a range of other lasting benefits: 70 percent reported improved overall health, 71 percent slept better, 67 percent had more energy, 58 percent lost weight, and 54 percent had better skin.

“The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term,” University of Sussex psychologist Richard de Visser said in a statement, noting that the wider health benefits often became noticeable shortly after the participants gave up drinking.

If a whole month without a drink sounds daunting, don’t worry. Passing on alcohol for a even a brief period of time can be beneficial, too. In the study, participants who didn’t make it the whole month of January still saw health improvements, although not to the same extent as those who skipped booze all 31 days.

“This shows that there are real benefits to just trying to complete Dry January,” de Visser said.

So instead of reaching for that beer or mixing up a cocktail, how about a nice cup of tea?