One Woman Sparks A Global Campaign To Raise Alcohol Awareness
In 2011, Emily Robinson decided to give up drinking for the month of January to get prepared for a marathon she was running in February of that same year. Since then, her idea to get sober every first month of the year has turned into a global phenomenon that is helping how the world thinks about alcohol.
Emily Robinson isn’t a celebrity, by the way. She’s not a movie star or a best-selling author. She’s not a singer or a talk show host. She’s just a woman who lives in the United Kingdom who decided to give up drinking for a month.
The kicker is – she wasn’t an alcoholic by any stretch of the imagination when she gave up drinking that first January. She was a social drinker who had never battled with substance abuse problems. Her desire to quit drinking was not driven by powerlessness or unmanageability, as it was for so many of us.
Robinson was just an everyday gal who wanted to run a marathon. She had a desire to up her running game, so she gave up booze for a month. The thing is, she found out it was a lot more difficult than she expected and she shared her experience with her close friends.
The following year, Robinson joined Alcohol Concern – a British organization focused on alcohol awareness. Together, Robinson and Alcohol Concern decided to create “Dry January” – a campaign that encourages people across the UK and around the world to give up drinking for the month of January. Since then, every year, the number of people participating has grown in exponential numbers.
What Is Dry January?
According to Alcohol Concern, Dry January “is the annual movement through which millions of people give up alcohol for the month of January.” Alcohol Concern says that doing Dry January allows non-alcoholics to take control of their relationship with alcohol. It also drives a conversation about alcohol and forces people to ask themselves why they drink, examine what the stuff does to their minds and bodies, and question how they can reduce the harm alcohol can cause.
Dry January is designed for people who don’t necessarily have a problem with alcohol, although some do. The purpose of the campaign is so that drinkers can raise their own awareness about how much alcohol they drink and understand how much alcohol negatively impacts their lives.
Proponents of the campaign say that January is the ideal month to drive a self-induced prohibition after all the heavy drinking that takes place in the month of December. It’s a time to detox.
Dry January Makes a Positive Impact On Alcohol Consumption The First Year
In 2012, Alcohol Concern built a website and started their campaign to make Dry January something people across the UK could get excited about.
By 2013, the organization had garnered 1,278 Facebook likes, 1,001 Twitter followers, and 705 items of media coverage. Approximately 4,300 people across the country participated in Dry January 2013– including The Telegraph’s Peter Oborne, who wrote about his experience giving up alcohol for the month. The journalist shared that he knew he wasn’t an alcoholic, but admitted he did his fair share of drinking.
According to Alcohol Concern, alcohol expert Dr. Richard de Visser from the University of Sussex volunteered to administer a survey to the people participating in Dry January to see what effect taking part in the campaign had on them.
His findings revealed that six months after the campaign was finished, seven out of ten people drank less alcohol than they did before Dry January. Additionally, almost 25 percent of the people who were drinking at “harmful” levels before the campaign were in the “low-risk” category six months after their commitment to stop drinking for thirty days.
Soon, Dry January began to gain traction.
By 2016, One in Six Brits Were Committing To Stay Sober in Dry January
By 2016, the number of people in the UK committing to complete Dry January skyrocketed with more than 40,000 Facebook likes. By then, Alcohol Concern had created an app for Dry January with 14,000 downloads in 2016 alone.
Major pubs in the area made a media announcement that they were stocking up on non-alcoholic beer to support the country’s efforts to stay sober for the month. Those who live in England are notorious for going to the pubs and consuming mass quantities of alcohol. By serving non-alcoholic beer, bar-owners created a way for Dry January participants to still enjoy a night on the town without drinking alcohol.
An English survey called “YouGov” conducted in early February 2016 revealed that a staggering 16 percent of the adult population in the UK had at least attempted the Dry January challenge, although not everyone made it the entire month without drinking alcohol.
By 2017, Dry January Became An International Phenomenon
In 2017, Dry January had 46,513 Facebook likes, 7,379 Twitter followers, more than six billion hashtag impressions, and an impressive 2,959 press mentions globally.
What’s even more impressive? A YouGov survey showed that 5 million Brits and people around the world took part in Dry January in 2017 including celebrities, journalists, authors, artists, fashion moguls, and famous models. Furthermore, the newly relaunched app, “Dry January & Beyond” was downloaded by over 36,000 people worldwide.
Although there are no hard numbers available yet, millions are expected to participate in Dry January in 2018.
U.S. Superstar Rumer Willis Participated In Dry January 2017 And Just Kept Going
In July 2017, actress Rumer Willis got people talking when she announced that she was six months sober. The thing is, Willis never had a drug or alcohol problem, which is what got people talking. Fans wanted to know if she had been secretly using heroin or cocaine.
When the truth came out that she hadn’t been using any drugs, nor had she been battling an addiction to alcohol, people were confused. Willis cleared things up when she explained that she was motivated to stay sober after completing Dry January.
Willis told People Magazine, “My decision to become sober wasn’t out of a need necessarily, it was more just that I did ‘sober January’ and I just decided to keep going.”
The Dancing with the Stars season 20 champion shared her achievement on Instagram, posting, “I will be the first one to say I’m not perfect and I mess up sometimes and every once in a while I get it right but I wanted to share this because I am really proud of myself. Yesterday I celebrated 6 months of sobriety. It’s not something I planned on but after the long journey of getting here I can honestly say I have never been more proud of myself in my entire life.”
Willis’s story about remaining sober after successfully completing Dry January has helped raise awareness for the cause.
What Quitting Drinking For Just One Month Can Do For You
If you’ve been struggling with a drinking problem, why not kick off the New Year in the spirit of sobriety by committing to participate in Dry January? If you’re already sober, you can reaffirm your dedication to your recovery journey by joining in on the fun and declaring that you are doing Dry January.
Need a reason to quit drinking for a month? We have a few.
- The statistics from Alcohol Concern report that of the people who participate in just one month of alcohol abstinence, 79 percent save money, 62 percent sleep better and have more energy, and 49 participants lose weight.
- Alcohol Concern reports that sixty-seven percent of Dry January participants have sustained reduced levels of drinking six months after completing Dry January.
- Dr. Rajiv Jalan, a liver specialist in London, conducted a study on those who participated in Dry January and analyzed the findings. He found that in just one month of alcohol abstinence, most people’s liver fat fell by at least 15 percent.
- Jalan also found that blood glucose levels — a key factor in determining diabetes risk — fell by an average of 16 percent.
Need a few more reasons to quit drinking? Here are 11 surprising benefits you’ll enjoy when you abstain from alcohol.
Get ready for Dry January. Download the app.