It’s the most booziest time of the year… PHE urges festive drinkers to take a break in January

Christmas Party Drinks

A new campaign from Public Health England launched today, on ‘Booze Black Friday’, is urging regular and festive drinkers to take a break from alcohol for ‘Dry January’.

According to PHE, festive drinking peaks on the Friday before Christmas, with more alcohol set to be bought tonight than on any other night over the festive period.

Dubbed Booze Black Friday, today is expected to be the heaviest drinking day of the year - more alcohol is set to be sold tonight than on any other night of the year - and emergency services across the country will be on high alert due to an anticipated increase in drink-fuelled incidents.

Booze Britain?

PHE say that in Britain alone, £2.31 billion is spent on alcohol in pubs, bars and clubs during the month of December with much more spent in supermarkets and other outlets.

Festive hangover?

And according to new figures from PHE and Alcohol Concern, 40% of those who drink more than they usually do over the festive period admit that excessive drinking makes them feel like taking a break from alcohol, so for many, Dry January is the ideal opportunity. However, the same figures suggest that, despite feeling like knocking the booze on the head, social pressures mean that regardless of this, many will continue to drink:

  • 53% admitting to drinking over the Christmas period when they don’t necessarily want to due to social pressures
  • 27% agree they “feel guilty” for drinking more over Christmas
  • 30% agree that the extra alcohol makes them feel “run down”
  • 21% of people say they are “tired of drinking” by Christmas Eve.


Dry January

People are therefore being encouraged to try giving up the booze for Dry January, in order to ‘reset’ their drinking habits by ensuring the excessive drinking doesn’t continue into the New Year.

A poll of 1,500 participants of last year’s Dry January found that 67% had maintained lower levels of drinking for at least six months after completing the challenge, with 70% reporting around 6lb weight loss due to the reduction of empty calories associated with alcohol consumption. In addition, 63% reported improvements to their concentration and sleeping habits.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, London Regional Director of PHE says: “The festive period often sees people drinking much more than usual, which as well as being damaging to our health also sees the NHS and police dealing with more drinking-related accidents and emergencies.

“It’s not surprising that many of us feel ready to take a break from alcohol. A period of abstinence could help encourage less harmful, better drinking habits in the long term - even 6 months later, evidence from Dry January shows that more than two thirds of participants are still drinking less.

“As the festive season continues, we’re urging people to take a break and get their 2016 off to a positive start by signing up for Dry January.”

Lady Drinking Alcohol

Jackie Ballard, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern says: “In the run up to Christmas, many people start drinking more than usual as they celebrate the festive season with parties and get-togethers.

“Dry January is an incredible opportunity to give the body a break and gain some great health benefits such as; lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, improved sleep, losing weight and feeling more energised.”

Doctor Chris van Tulleken, who has previously taken part in an experiment that demonstrated the detrimental effect of drinking on the body, says: “Taking a month off alcohol is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do for your health in January, it also gives you a real sense of achievement and on top of all that can save you money too.”

According to research carried out by University College London, published in October, giving up alcohol for a period of four weeks can cut the chances of developing serious diseases, with improved liver function, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels and a lowered risk of diabetes.

To sign up for Dry January and register for tips and tools to help you get through the month, visit

How many units in your glass?

According to NHS guidelines, women should try to consume no more than 2-3 units per day, and 3-4 units per day for men.

Alcoholic Drinks

For typical unit measures, visit NHS Choices.

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About the author

Georgie Fenn, writes most of our news articles and social media posts.