Dry July is here already and thousands of people across Australia have ditched the booze to raise funds for those affected by cancer. While giving up alcohol for one month may sound easy in theory it can actually be quite the challenge, especially with the social drinking culture so heavily engrained into our society.
But it's good to challenge ourselves once in a while; especially when there are health benefits!
It isn't too late to join the club and get involved in Dry July – whether you're giving up alcohol all together or cutting down and not drinking as much as you usually would.
If you're still not convinced, here are a few reasons why you should give up the booze this month:
There are many long-term health benefits from abstaining from alcohol or cutting down long-term.
Forty three per cent of alcohol-related cancers in Australia could be prevented by reducing alcohol intake from four or more drinks per day, to two or less drinks per day. Drinking less frequently, e.g. drinking weekly rather than daily, and drinking less on each occasion, reduces the lifetime risk of alcohol-related harm.
Unfortunately, if come August you resume regular and high levels of alcohol consumption that increase your cancer risk, having a month off from this won't make much difference. To learn more about levels of alcohol consumption, view the National Health and Medical research Council's (NHMRC) Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol here.
Understand the risks
Every year, alcohol causes more harm to society than illegal drugs and is one of the leading contributors to the burden of illness and deaths in Australia. But because alcohol is so widely and regularly consumed in Australia, there is little public awareness of how harmful alcohol can be.
Dry July provides us time to step back, reflect and really understand the risks directly related to alcohol consumption. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), drinking alcohol is associated with a risk of developing health problems such as mental and behavioural disorders, liver cirrhosis, some cancers, and cardiovascular diseases.
Learn more about the link between alcohol and cancer here.
A good night's sleep
In the short-term, taking a month off drinking can improve your sleeping pattern, claims Professor Steve Allsop of the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University. He said: "The reason for that is 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."
This is because after a few hours the sedative effects of alcohol have worn off, meaning that you're more likely to wake up prematurely. Alcohol can also make existing sleep problems, like sleep apnoea and snoring, worse.
With a good night's sleep under your belt and no hangover you will have more energy and feel better overall. With more money in your pocket and all that energy why not do something active and fun?
As a depressant, alcohol often amplifies mental health issues putting people in a negative frame of mind that they normally wouldn't be in.
You are helping people affected by cancer
Every year, Dry July participants contribute to funding projects and programs that improve the comfort and wellbeing of people affected by cancer.
With an aim to make a difficult time a little easier for those affected by cancer, whether this be through wellness programs, comfort items, transport services, accommodation projects, refurbishments, information resources, hospital furnishings or entertainment items.
According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Australian's spend $14.1 billion on alcohol each and every year. It is estimated that a single person under the age of 35 spends on average $22 per week on alcohol, and when it comes to families this increases to $47 per week.
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 in a year…
Give your liver a rest! Sign up to Dry July here.
Want to know whether your drinking habits are putting you at risk? Find out with the Your Room Risk Assessment.
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.