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Could you give up alcohol for 31 days?  

Go alcohol-free in January, experience the benefits and develop a fresh viewpoint to alcohol consumption in the New Year. Richmond CCG is encouraging people in Richmond to take part in Dry January from Thursday 1 January 2015 and take a month-long break from alcohol.

More than 17,000 people took part in Alcohol Concern's Dry January campaign in 2014 with many reporting that it had a positive impact on their long term drinking levels.

Dr Graham Lewis, GP and Richmond CCG Chair said taking a month off drinking would improve people's general health, as well saving money and trimming the waistline.

"People often feel that they have overindulged in alcohol over the festive season so January is a great time to consider taking a break from alcohol," he said.

"Alcohol can increase the risk of many medical conditions, including cancer, and Dry January gives you the opportunity to take a break from the booze and see the benefits. You probably won't be missing it as much as you think by the end of the month."

Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions, including mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers, high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver ​and depression [1]​.

In 2011 there were 8,748 deaths directly related to alcohol in the UK [2].

Analysis of Dry January 2014 found that participants went on to drink less frequently afterwards, drink less per drinking day and get drunk less often ​​​[3].

The daily recommended sensible drinking limits are that men should not regularly drink more than three to four units of alcohol per day while women should not regularly drink more than two to three units of alcohol per day.

One unit is half a pint of beer, a small glass of wine or a single measure of spirits. In addition it is important to have at least two drink free days a week to let your body, and especially your liver, recover from the effects of alcohol.

Some people drink to help them deal with difficulties at home or at work - it can help to speak to a counsellor or therapist to find new ways of coping with the stresses of everyday life.

Speak to your GP about help available, or if you'd prefer you can get confidential advice at Drinkline on 0800 917 8282.

To sign up to Dry January visit www.dryjanuary.org.uk, where you can also find tips to support you through the month.

[1]​​ Anderson P. The impact of alcohol on health. In: Anderson P, Møller L, Galea G (eds.) Alcohol in the European Union consumption, harm and policy approaches, WHO Europe; 2012. p5-9

[2] Alcohol-related deaths in the United Kingdom, 2011. Office for National Statistics

[3] https://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/news/academic-research-reveals-dry-january-leads-less-drinking-year-round/