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Since its launch in the United Kingdom in 2013 with 4,000 participants, the Dry January health initiative has inspired a more general movement believed to include millions worldwide who abstain from alcohol for the first month of the year. Promoted by the British charity Alcohol Change UK, the challenge, which asks people to not drink beer, wine or spirits for one month, has grown from a novelty to shared pursuit.
For those looking to reduce their consumption without avoiding booze completely, Damp January was conjured up. For members of the wine and spirits industry, this is often a time when drinking less but better is the mantra. Enjoy one good glass of wine, craft beer or mixed drink. (For those who are looking to temporarily embrace sobriety later in the year, there’s Sober October.)
Associated reports suggest regular drinkers who abstained from alcohol for 30 days enjoyed better sleep, weight loss and increased energy while on their cleanse. A healthier immune system and lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels often result as well. These short-term rewards are undone once consumption of alcohol resumes.
A lasting benefit of a Dry or Damp January comes from the opportunity for people to assess their relationship with alcohol: why they drink, how much they consume and how often. Mindful drinking is the term used by wellness experts.
One of the associated advantages of a sober month is how much money you can save by not buying booze. But that’s not the case for anyone who uses the occasion to audition the growing range of non-alcohol beers, wines and spirits available. (Many contain trace amounts of alcohol, 0.05 per cent abv, which makes them offside for anyone staying true to Dry January’s alcohol-free tenet.)
The rapid growth in non-alcoholic category, which includes beer, wine, spirits, ready-to-drink cocktails, mixers and other beverages, has inspired the formation of the Adult Non-Alcoholic Beverage Association to promote universal regulations and industry standards while expanding the market for these innovative products. Forty producers, including Canadian companies Acid League, Partake Brewing and Sobrii 0-Spirits, are part of the North American network.
As the flavours and textures of non-alcoholic options continue to improve, they help to make it more socially acceptable for consumers to select non-alcoholic drinks at bars or restaurants and social functions at any time of the year.