What local doctors say about Dry January

It takes more than a month for true health benefits

Haley Lena
hlena@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/20/23

A Public Health Initiative, Dry January, created by Alcohol Change UK in 2013 has become popular on social media in America, but local doctors suggest it is a time to look at one’s overall alcohol consumption.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Username
Password
Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.


Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

What local doctors say about Dry January

It takes more than a month for true health benefits

Posted

A Public Health Initiative, Dry January, created by Alcohol Change UK in 2013 has become popular on social media in America, but local doctors suggest it is a time to look at one’s overall alcohol consumption. 

Dry January is when people go 31 days without drinking alcohol to give the body and mind a break from the substance. 

“I don’t think you can just say, I’m going to quit drinking for the month of January and expect to have any major significant change in your health from alcohol,” said Dr. James Burton, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado. 

If a person wants to see a real improvement and change in their body, they need to not consume alcohol for three months, Burton said.

According to Dr. Jonathan Ritvo, the senior medical director for the Center For Dependency Addiction, and Rehabilitation and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado, alcohol is a small molecule that goes everywhere in the body and due to its composition, it can dissolve tissue in the body.  

“The most immediate effects are on the nervous system and the brain and can change behavior, mood, cognition and take a variable period of time to resolve,” said Ritvo.

When it comes to recovering from alcohol impairment, Ritvo has seen alcohol impair the memory and concentration of individuals from three weeks up to permanent impairment in heavy drinkers. 

“It is probably more beneficial for people who are drinking too much but have not yet crossed the line into what we would call severe Alcohol Use Disorder or alcoholism,” said Ritvo. 

According to Burton, who is  the Medical Director of Liver Transplantation and the Section Head of Hepatology at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, the liver is a big target when it comes to alcohol consumption. Not only does alcohol kill the cells in the liver, but it can also cause the gut to leak and lead to jaundice, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, heart failure and dementia. 

“We’re seeing a lot more younger people develop alcohol associated with liver disease, and particularly women,” said Burton. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and it used to be something where we saw 50, 60 year old men with cirrhosis and now we see 30 year old women, both alcohol associated hepatitis and cirrhosis.”

In addition, the sudden stop of alcohol consumption can put people at risk of withdrawal. For heavy drinkers, going back to drinking after a month break could be difficult on the body as the person may have lost some of their tolerance to alcohol. 

“I would suggest if someone says I’m not going to drink for January and they may find it’s hard not to drink for January, that may be a wake up call to think, I might have a problem with alcohol,” said Burton. 

Dry January, alcohol consumption, medical

Comments

Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.