Boozy Christmas, Dry January – and how to navigate the two…

December 3, 2012 by
Health   1 Comment

Giving up alcohol for a month – Dry January – is a smart move for lots of reasons. Improves your skin, eases off a few pounds effortlessly, saves a few financial pounds, and gives you a chance to evaluate how much you drink – and how easy or hard it is to cut down.

I’ve written about one couple’s plans for abstinence in the Telegraph here today.  Lack of space meant I couldn’t include some of their best tips but they are worth sharing nonetheless:

Gabriella Jozwiak suggested:

1. ‘Cycle to the pub – I’m much to scared to cycle home after drinking in London, so knowing I have to get back home on my bike saves me from temptation.’

2. ‘Go for quality over quantity now. I know I used to look at a drinks menu and always go for better value, rather than choosing a nicer drink. And that’s normally a bottle, which means you end up drinking a lot more. Now I will go for a small glass of wine, and maybe choose a more expensive one, because then it feels like more of a treat, I enjoy it more, and I’m less inclined to buy another one and spend more money.’

3. ‘We only very rarely drink wine with a meal at home now – only if it’s a special occasion or we have guests. And I try to have the first drink with the meal rather than start drinking before. This works if you go out for a meal too and you have to wait at a bar for your table. It’s better (and cheaper) to have a soft drink while you’re waiting, then order a drink with your meal.’

4. ‘I’m more likely to order a bottle of beer now rather than a pint. Even though these tend to be more expensive, there’s less volume of liquid and I think they’re lower in alcohol content too…’

5. ‘I do try to choose drinks that are lower in alcohol, so I don’t drink cider very much any more.’

6. ‘I don’t go for a double when the barman tries to convince you to upgrade!’

Jack Leather added: ‘I have found the drinkaware online calculator very useful, but I think it’s also about finding an alternative when you are in certain situations – particularly stress and celebrations. For stress, I guess I find exercise a better way of dealing with it than drink. For celebrations or when you have achieved something you can reward yourself with a nice meal, going out for a film, buying something you’ve wanted for a while. There is peer pressure in a group but if you explain why you are not drinking people usually lay off as they know you’re doing the right thing.’


But you don’t have to wait till January to become more drink conscious.

And some useful ‘Tips to Avoid Christmas Drink-Driving’ – have also just landed on my desk from a PR.  I think they’re worth reading so am unashamedly reproducing them below. I mean, who knew?

1] You don’t have to be over the limit to be convicted of Drink-Driving.

Not any more – you can be convicted of being impaired through drink or drugs’. The UK limit of 80mg/100ml of blood is very high compared with most of Europe where it is 50mg/100. 67% of drivers are significantly impaired BELOW this level. If we are shown to be ‘impaired’, that’s still a year’s ban. Many Police Services are honing their skills at Field Impairment Testing.

2] You don’t have to drink loads to be ‘over the limit’ the next day. 4 pints or 3 glasses of wine the night before could still be there next morning. The later you start drinking and the earlier you get on the road the greater the risk.

3] Do you know how long it takes to clear alcohol from the body? Try this – you go out at 9pm for a meal, start off with a pint of lager (or a G&T if you prefer), have 3 glasses of wine during the meal, and round off the evening with a Brandy. When will you be alcohol FREE and therefore FIT to drive? 3am – 6am – 11am or 3pm the next day?

4] Would you drive after drinking? Not that evening perhaps but it may surprise you to hear that people DO drink-drive: regularly – the ‘morning after’. Almost 1 in 5 of the 90,000 drivers convicted of drink driving each year are on their way to, or at, work next day. Many of these drivers felt OK to drive and are amazed to be convicted of something they honestly believed they would never do.

5] It’s not just regular heavy drinkers who are at risk at Christmas. In a recent research project of 1,000 drinking weeks of convicted drink-drivers it was found that the average weekly consumption was only 36 units per week; the recommended amount for an adult male equated to 28 units.
According to Roger Singer, Head of Drink & Drug Road Safety Charity Drink Driver Education Plus: ‘During the Christmas and New Year period we see the second largest number of drink drive convictions. People need to be aware how long alcohol lasts in their body after they have drunk it. A pint of strong lager like Stella will take 3 hours before they can drive and a couple of large glasses of wine anything up to 8 hours. Don’t try to guess the drink drive limit – it’s impossible – only drive when you are alcohol FREE”.


What are your tips for navigating Dry January? Who’ s going to join in?


About the Author

Victoria Lambert has been a journalist for more than 20 years, and specialises in health and medical matters. She writes for the Telegraph, the Times, the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Mail and the Mail on Sunday. She contributes to Saga, Geographical and First Eleven magazines – where she is the agony aunt.

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