As we roll into the new year, people across the world are starting their New Year’s Resolutions. One of those resolutions is to give up or drink less alcohol.
Over in Great Britain, folks celebrate Dry January, a campaign that encourages the public to give up alcohol for the entire month. Designed to raise money for alcohol research conducted by Alcohol Concern and Cancer Research UK and to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol abuse, Dry January was created with good intentions. But medical professionals say that giving up alcohol for an entire month might not be beneficial for your health in the long-run.
At Dry January’s website, you’ll find plenty of good reasons to give up alcohol for the month: save money, lose weight, sleep better, rejuvenate your skin, say goodbye to hangovers and hello to increased energy, detox your body, and repair your liver.
While these are all certainly benefits of giving up or cutting back on alcohol, medical professionals point out that short-term detox programs like Dry January won’t save your liver from alcohol damage. In fact, the British Liver Trust points out that a month-long alcohol detox is not only pointless but can actually do more harm than good.
Dr. Mark Wright, a hepatologist working with the British Liver Trust, explains that short-term abstinence gives people an excuse to drink excessively in the months before and after. While the liver is great at metabolizing alcohol and regenerating itself, it needs regular alcohol-free days to function properly and avoid permanent damage.
The British Liver Trust recommends having at least 2 to 3 alcohol-free days a week throughout the entire year rather than give up alcohol completely for just one month. Drinking alcohol sensibly throughout the year combined with regular exercise and less sugar and fat consumption is your best bet for repairing your liver and keeping it healthy.
If you have an alcohol addiction or alcohol abuse problem, do not try to participate in Dry January or any other short-term detox program. Talk to your doctor about finding the treatment and rehabilitation you need to get and stay sober safely. You can also visit www.samhsa.com for helplines, treatment facility locators, and other resources.