Dry July is here again and tens of thousands of Australians are ditching the booze this month to raise funds for those affected by cancer. Giving up alcohol for one month may sound easy but with social drinking so heavily engrained in our culture it can be quite a challenge for some.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), one in six people consume alcohol at levels that put them at lifetime risk of alcohol-related disease or injury. Unfortunately there is still little public awareness of alcohol-related harm, in fact the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) 2019 annual alcohol poll showed that just under half of all Australians are aware of the link between alcohol use and cancers like mouth, throat and breast cancers.
Whether you're giving up alcohol all together or cutting down, forgoing the booze or 'social lubricant' for an extended period can actually do you a lot of good, particularly when it comes to lowering your risk of disease. Plus you get to enjoy added health benefits! Here are a few reasons to go dry (or reduce) and keep you motivated while you give up the booze this month:
There are many health benefits from abstaining from alcohol or reducing the amount you drink in the long-term. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) suggest that even reducing your alcohol intake to two or less drinks per day significantly lowers your risk of alcohol-related injury or disease. Drinking less frequently, like drinking on one occasion per week rather than daily, and drinking less on each occasion, also reduces the lifetime risk of alcohol-related harm.
In the 'Australian Guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol', the NHMRC report that the lifetime risk of death from alcohol-related disease more than triples when consumption increases from two to three standard drinks a day. So each day that you decide not to drink alcohol, you're potentially avoiding or preventing serious life-long health concerns.
Learn more about the relationship between alcohol and cancer in our article
What is the link between alcohol and cancer?
Better sleep and improved wellbeing
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), drinking alcohol is associated with a risk of developing health problems such as mental and behavioural disorders. As a depressant, alcohol often amplifies mental health issues putting people in more of a negative frame of mind than they normally would be.
Professor Steve Allsop at the National Drug Research Institute, says in the short-term, taking a month off drinking can improve your sleep, "Whilst alcohol sends you to sleep fairly quickly, you tend not to get very good quality sleep when you're drinking … so you wake up not feeling as rested as you should."
After a few hours the sedative effects of alcohol wear off, meaning you're more likely to wake up prematurely. Alcohol can also make existing sleep problems, like sleep apnoea and snoring worse.
With a month's worth of good night's sleep under your belt and no hangover, you can look forward to more energy and better mental health.
Want to cut down on booze but need guidance and help? Take advantage of the free NSW telephone-based coaching service Get Healthy. The Get Healthy Alcohol Reduction program is designed to support you to make healthy lifestyle changes and reduce your alcohol consumption.
Health coaches assess your current drinking habits and provide support and motivation to help you reach your health goal. The program uses the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), an internationally validated screening tool to screen for alcohol risk.
The NSW Get Healthy Service is available Mon – Fri 8am – 8pm. To enrol call 1300 806 258 or register online at gethealthynsw.com.au.
According to the
Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Australians spend $14.1 billion on alcohol every year. It is estimated that a single person under the age of 35 spends on average $22 per week on alcohol or $1,144 per year, and families spend on average $2,444 per year.
How much do you spend on alcohol each week? Swapping your average beer, wine, cocktail or cider for an alcohol-free option means you'll have more money in your pocket at the end of the month and just imagine how much you could save…
Help people affected by cancer
Every year, Dry July participants fundraise to improve the comfort and wellbeing of people affected by cancer. The foundation provides wellness programs, comfort items, transport services, accommodation projects, refurbishments, information resources, hospital furnishings and entertainment items for cancer patients.
Give your liver a rest! Go dry this July.
Want to know whether your drinking habits are putting you at risk? Find out by using our Alcohol Risk Assessment Tool.
For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drugs 24 hours, 7 days a week, call the Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015. For help with reducing your alcohol consumption, contact the Get Healthy service on 1300 806 258 or online at gethealthynsw.com.au.
Note: For some people, suddenly stopping drinking can make them feel physically and emotional unwell. If you feel you cannot stop or experience sweatiness, nausea or shaking within days of not drinking – you may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms and should see your doctor.