Skip to main content

Polka Dot Images/Getty Images/Polka Dot RF

That's it, you're done. After a month of mulled wine, eggnog and more glasses of bubbly than you can count – let alone remember in your blurred-edges holiday stupor – you can hardly stand the thought of another drink.

You're so sick of it, in fact, that you've decided to lay off the sauce for a whole week. Make that a month. For all of January, your body, the temple, will be unsullied by the end-of-the-workday hooch you normally crave.

Your liver will thank you, right?

Story continues below advertisement

Not if you get right back to your regular dose of rotgut, the BBC reports.

Temporary resistance is useless, a liver organization points out.

"You're better off making a resolution to take a few days off alcohol a week throughout the entire year than remaining abstinent for January only," says Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust.

The booze-free-month approach doesn't take into account how the liver works. Unless there is permanent damage, the liver can repair itself in as little as 24 hours.

Taking a break from alcohol every few days gives the liver a chance to bounce back, whereas "detoxing for just a month in January is medically futile," says Mark Wright, consultant hepatologist at Southampton General Hospital.

What's more, it "feeds the idea that you can abuse your liver as much as you like and then sort everything else with a quick fix."

Nevertheless, there may be a psychological benefit to a dry month. At, writer Rebecca Johnson describes how she curbed her two-to-three-drinks-a-night habit. Using the website Moderate Drinking, she quit for 30 days to stop the automatic instinct to reach for the bottle. After the first week, she says, "I connected with genuine happiness."

Story continues below advertisement

Ms. Johnson adds that she hasn't finished a whole bottle of wine since she wrote a Vogue article about her drinking more than a year ago, and usually limits herself to one glass a night.

But according to the British Liver Trust's new health campaign, the best New Year's resolution for the liver would be to stay off alcohol for two or three days – straight – every week.

Penance, optional.

Do you make grand plans to "detox" in January? How do they normally pan out? Have you tried moderation year round?

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.