Start new year on a positive note with Dry January

Medical Matters with Karen Watson, from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, who works as a recovery group coordinator at the Torbay Drug and Alcohol Service, talks about Dry January and the benefits of giving up alcohol or reducing the amount you drink:

As we say goodbye to 2022, many people will be looking to start the new year on a positive note and this may include reducing the amount of alcohol they drink, or stopping all together.

Many people choose to drink alcohol in times of celebration but also as a way to unwind, relax and forget the day to day stresses of life.

Many people can enjoy the odd tipple without any issues but the short and long-term effects of alcohol, however, can impact on your health, lifestyle, relationships, finances and mental wellbeing.

It is good to be aware of how much you’re drinking as you may not realise that the odd glass of wine may have turned into two or three glasses, or even a bottle a night without you realising.

In Torbay, it is estimated that there are approximately 1,500 adults with an alcohol dependency. This means that for every 1,000 residents, 14 will be living with an alcohol dependency. If you find it difficult to enjoy yourself, or relax without having a drink, it’s possible that you’ve become dependent on alcohol.

If you’re drinking more than three days a week and are not sure about how much you are drinking, chances are you may be drinking at a risky level.

It’s not just what you drink, it’s also how and when. It’s recommended that both men and women should not drink more than 14 units a week to avoid risking their health – that’s the equivalent of six pints of low strength lager, or six medium glasses of wine.

Reducing the amount you drink, or stopping completely, can be really rewarding both for your health and your wallet. After just a month, you’ll find that you sleep better, lose weight, have better skin, more energy and feel better about yourself. Your liver function and cholesterol will also improve, which will help reduce your risk of a stroke, liver disease and seven types of cancer.

Alcohol can also have a negative impact on your mental health and reducing the amount you drink, or stopping, will also help lift your mood, including depression and anxiety. You’ll also notice more money in your wallet – on average you could save around £60 a month if you drink three bottles of wine a week, which is a huge bonus during the current cost of living crisis.

It can be difficult to break our drinking habits, but signing up for Dry January is a great way to kick start a healthier, happier, and wealthier you – as well as banishing hangovers. Visit for more details. It isn’t about giving anything up. It’s about getting something back.

There is also lots of support available locally if you’re worried about how much you’re drinking, or someone else.

We know it can be difficult to ask for help, but the Torbay Drug and Alcohol Service is a confidential service and the team of trained medical and non-medical staff won’t judge you, they have lots of information and advice to help you or your loved ones.

You can contact the team on 01803 604330 or visit and search for Torbay Drug and Alcohol Service for more information including online self-management tools.

The team has helped lots of people, including Steve, who stopped drinking nearly two years ago. He said: “I tried to give up alcohol for many years as I found myself drinking at a dependent level and it took a near death experience in hospital from alcohol for me to seek help from the Torbay Drug and Alcohol Service.

“I had tried many times to get sober but this time was different because I wanted my sobriety and going into hospital opened my eyes to the real dangers of alcohol. I now have untold happiness, it has given me my life back and improved my health and wellbeing tenfold. I take it day by day and am nearly two years sober on January 20 and have never looked back.”

You can also get help and advice from Alcoholics Anonymous, which has local support groups, and also a free national helpline. Visit or call 0800 917 7650 or email [email protected]

SMART Recovery can also help you to build your motivation to change. Visit

Karen Watson, from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, who works as a recovery group coordinator at the Torbay Drug and Alcohol Service
Karen Watson, from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, who works as a recovery group coordinator at the Torbay Drug and Alcohol Service