Since Alcohol Change UK began Dry January sometime around 2013, it has become a global movement. The campaign encourages people to abstain from alcohol for 31 days starting Jan. 1, a time when many of us make New Year’s resolutions.
With January almost over, people can have another go at not drinking for a month with the Dry February challenge.
But going dry may not be the right goal for everyone, says Dr. Silvina Mema, Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer with Interior Health. “While many people might feel ready and able to not drink for a month, an ‘all or nothing’ approach can be unrealistic for some,” says Dr. Mema. “People who choose to not go dry can still try to lower their alcohol consumption to reduce the adverse health effects of alcohol. Choosing small steps over big ones can give you a higher chance of success of meeting your goals and give you something to celebrate.”
In 2023, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released new guidelines on alcohol and health. Zero drinks a week has the greatest benefits; at 3 – 6 drinks a week, your risk of developing several types of cancer increases. And seven or more drinks a week can increase your risk of heart disease or stroke significantly.
“While there is no safe level of drinking, any reduction in alcohol consumption has health benefits. When it comes to drinking, less is better,” says Dr. Mema.