Published on February 11, 2013 | by Jonny Perrin

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Goodbye New Year detox, hello to the Dryathalon

Bottles of alcohol.

The dryathalon encourages people to give up drinking for a month. [Flickr: Erik Jaeger]

You may have noticed this year’s first neologism: the dryathlon. The dryathlete’s goal is to abstain from alcohol for a month to raise money for charity. So that is up to 31 whole days without any alcohol whatsoever.

For some this could be a walk in the park, however for many students it is 30 days too long.

This is not a new notion, the New Year is the traditional time for self-restraint, or for students – the traditional month of thinking about self-restraint.

However this year the charities, Alcohol Concern UK and Cancer Research UK have pushed themselves to the front of the bar – and closed it down.

Not really – you can still drink if you want to, but they cordially invite you not to. And while you are attempting your detox, why not raise some money for them too – by being sponsored or simply donating the money you save over the month?

Not just January

Do not be fooled into thinking you have missed your chance, you have not got off the hook that easily – you can attempt your own dyrathlon any month of the year, not just in January.

According to Cancer Research’s website www.dryathlon.org.uk, 35, 000 Brits signed up as dryathletes during January. The majority of dryathletes are between the age of 18 to 30 which is the same age group that enjoy a heavy social life at the weekend, and are thought to struggle the most with the challenge.

“I know a few people who said they were going to do it, and they lasted about a week.” Canterbury Christchurch University student, Charlie Austin

However, Mahdis Mikou, 22, a design for graphic communication student at LCC likes the idea of a dry month. “I don’t drink too often, to be honest,” she said. “Maybe once in two months. But if I knew that the little money I did spend on drinking could every once in a while help someone – then yes I would happily give up a glass of wine.”

She had never heard of a dryathalon until now but says that “it is a very good idea if you can find the right way to send your message to your target. Some people like to go out everyday – especially students – and they might not like to give up their fun for charities.

“But at the same time I believe that if you find a way to advertise this activity in a fun, exciting and creative way, there would be a lot of people who would like to join your group, even party animal students.”

Health Benefits

Many that are taking part have organised themselves into ‘dry teams’. The teams are mainly students, work colleagues or housemates restraining themselves from their local, to collectively raise money for charity.

The website allows individuals to calculate their average spend and calorie gains by entering how much they would usually drink in one month. So for example, if you were planning on having one pint of beer a day throughout February, you could be saving approximately £93 and saving your body from 7,440 calories.

So going dry for a month is clearly quite good for your health – for the short term – and your morals, if you raise some money for charity.

However just one month off  from drinking is not going to bring your gin-sodden liver back to full health- even Cancer Research admits “we need to make it clear that giving up drinking for one month will not have any lasting effect on your health,” whilst the British Liver Foundation told us giving up alcohol for this short amount of time is “not enough to revive the liver”.

Social Media

All social networking sites are a constant report on the progress of dryathletes throughout the challenge. On Facebook, the dryathlon page has over 20,000 likes. One user, John Guru Lowe, claims to have lost half a stone already, while another user David Swinstead posted “I was peer-pressured into falling off the wagon on Saturday. £15 penalty, whoops!”

“Stop patronising me, if I want to have a drink I will.” Blogger, Sian Claire Owen

On Twitter, @dryathlon has over 2,200 followers and following a dryathlete on Twitter has become a bit like following someone around a rehab facility. Except the person you are following also has a collection tin that they keep waggling in your direction.

@HugoDrewett posted “Halfway through @dryathlon and still going strong… please sponsor me if you can!!” Hundreds of other people are set to take to Twitter to post similar tweets too.

However, not everybody is jumping on the dryathlon bandwagon this month. Blogger Sian Claire Owen wrote in her blog The Daily Bite “Stop patronising me, if I want to have a drink I will.” This attitude seems to be common among the younger generation.

Pointless or not?

Charlie Austin, 20, a Business Computing student from Canterbury Christchurch University believes the scheme to be “charitable but vacuous.” He comments: “I know a few people who said they were going to do it, and they lasted about a week. If people are raising money for charity though, that cannot be all bad.”

Whether you think that the dryathlete’s actions are pointless or not, they are still earning money for charity, which is admirable. If you have not already been urged to donate by one of the abstinent amigos – which seems unlikely, you can visit www.dryathlon.org.uk and click to donate. Or why not put down that can of K cider, swap it for something a little softer and arrange your own dry month between your friends?

For further information you can also go to www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/campaign/dry-january.

 

Benefits of cutting back on alcohol

  • Better sleep. Although alcohol causes drowsiness, it disturbs your sleeping pattern, and causes restlessness in the second half of sleep.
  • Better sex life. Alcohol can lead to sexual dysfunction and impotence in men.
  • Healthier liver. Around 90 per cent of the alcohol we consume is metabolised and absorbed into our body through the liver.
  • Sharper brain. As well as making our memory hazy, the inhibition-lowering effect that alcohol has on our minds has also been linked with increased domestic violence, teenage pregnancies and child abuse.
  • Lower chance of obesity. Alcohol contains a large amount of sugar and no nutrients at all, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain.

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