Does a Dry July change our drinking habits?
What does a month off the grog mean in terms of health benefits, awareness of dangerous drinking habits and cancer research? The evidence, according to Julie Robert, School of International Studies, University of Technology Sydney, is mixed.
Writing in The Conversation, she looks at not only the history of giving up alcohol, but how effective temporary sobriety campaigns are in changing long term drinking behaviours.
Those who depend on alcohol every day, or regularly binge drink, are unlikely to be influenced by these campaigns. But health conscious middle and upper middle classes, 35-ish to 50-odd, are a significant cohort for these drinking ‘time-outs’. And the benefits are substantial: improved liver function, weight loss and better sleep patterns, as well as reduced alcohol consumption over the following six months.
And less drinking can have (ironically) a spillover effect – the more not drinking becomes normalised, the easer it is to abstain.
Research hasn’t been done on long term outcomes, but understanding how these health campaigns work (or don’t) might inform other behavioural changes around the things we eat, smoke and imbibe.
We’ll drink (in moderation) to that.