NHS Health Improvement Specialist, Tim Holmes, 45, from Guidepost in Northumberland, took part in Dry January four years ago and after feeling the benefits, decided to give up booze for good.
Tim said: “Four years ago, I made the decision to sign up to Dry January. I’ve never been a big drinker but I wanted to see how I’d feel by taking some time out from alcohol.
“I never intended to give up drinking altogether, but half way through January I realised that I hadn’t missed alcohol at all so I decided to extend my alcohol-free period by a couple of months. I found cutting out alcohol much easier than I thought I would and this gave me the motivation to continue through to my holiday that May. Once my holiday was over and I’d made it that far, I decided just to keep going.
“I’m generally into my health and fitness and like going to the gym so I’ve always considered myself a healthy person. Alcohol was a part of my life before but I only ever really drank on nights out, perhaps a couple of times a month.
“When I made the decision to give up alcohol altogether, I had discussions with my friends and explained what I was doing and why. They were supportive but some did feel it would be a big move. But I think they’ve realised what a positive decision it’s been for me and it’s definitely changed our conversations around alcohol.
“Some of my friends have even started to cut back on the amount of alcohol they drink and now choose to drink either low alcohol or alcohol free products when we are out together. I definitely think having a wider range of these types of products encourages people to cut back and even have drink free days. A couple of my friends and some work colleagues are also doing Dry January this year, which is fantastic. It is great to see more people thinking about their relationship with alcohol and how it can affect them.
“Alcohol is a big part of our community and in my role as a health worker, I’ve seen its harmful impact first hand. Much more is known about the health harms associated with alcohol today, including cancer and even things like mental health, and because of my job in public health it was important to me to support the national campaign and raise awareness.
“Dry January spurred me on to make a difference to my life. The main benefit to me from giving up alcohol is knowing that I’m not harming my health by drinking. Alcohol is one of the things we do have control over and we can choose to drink less and reduce our risk of getting alcohol-related conditions.
“It is never too late to cut back on the amount you drink. You don’t have to do something like Dry January, instead have more drink free days. My advice is set yourself goals, whether it is to save for a holiday or to improve your fitness, having something to work towards makes it easier to do. Get your friends involved by asking them to cut down with you, so you can motivate each other.
“There are many benefits from cutting down the amount you drink, such as feeling brighter and fitter, having more energy, sleeping better and losing weight. However, you are also reducing your risk of developing one of the many medical conditions linked to alcohol such as cancer.”