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‘People drinking more often and earlier in the day’



One in three Brits who drink alcohol said they drank more in 2020 than in 2019 and 22% said they were worried about their drinking during the pandemic, according to a survey.

Drinkers have found themselves consuming alcohol earlier in the day (26%), drinking more often (31%), and drinking ‘to try and cope’ (23%), the research from the Alcohol Change UK, the charity behind Dry January, released at the end of last month found.

But the survey of 2,000 UK adults also estimated a fifth of adults were planning not to drink this month – a significant rise on the number of people who committed to Dry January last year.

An estimated 65 million were going to go alcohol-free this January, up from an estimated 3.9 million last year, the research carried out between 24 and 26 November 2020 concluded.

The charity’s chief executive Dr Richard Piper said Dry January can allow drinkers ‘to see some amazing benefits like brighter skin, a fuller wallet, a calmer mind and a better night’s sleep’.

He continued: ‘Dry January isn’t about stopping drinking forever, but it is about more than January. It’s about learning that you don’t need alcohol so that for the rest of the year you’ve got a real choice.’     

In addition, the research found that one in three (31%) high-risk drinkers – who consume more than 14 units a week, the maximum recommended – are planning to take on Dry January, compared to 15% of low-risk drinkers.

The figures confirm ‘existing research which shows that the challenge is most popular among those who stand to benefit the most’, said Alcohol Change UK. 

People from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to have been drinking more than white people, young people (18-34) more likely than older people, and those with children under 18 more likely than those with adult or no children.   

University of Sussex research from 2017 found that 70% of those taking on a Dry January are still drinking less six months later – but this only applied to those who did the campaign with support from Alcohol Change UK via their free Try Dry app or coaching emails. 

Dr Piper continued: ‘If you’re doing Dry January, please do it with support. Alcohol Change UK offers brilliant free resources to help you make the most of your 31 days dry.

‘By downloading our app or signing up for coaching emails, you double your chance of having a totally alcohol-free month and getting the amazing, lasting benefits Dry January can bring.’

Dual diagnosis lead for Manchester Inpatients and Community Ben Metcalfe on how he and his team have been supporting people with problematic drinking during Covid-19.