A team effort could be the success to a dry January according to health experts.
Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is urging friends, families and work colleagues in Hartlepool to come together and take on the 2018 Dry January challenge.
I know by not drinking I will have more fun and be happier.Lisa French
Research has found almost one in 10 people in the North East – 168,899 people – are already planning on taking part, with the campaigners hoping more will take up the chance to lay off the drink in the wake of the festive season.
Now in its sixth year, Alcohol Concern’s Dry January asks people to put the excesses of the festive period behind them and start the New Year with 31 days off the booze to feel healthier, save money and re-set their relationship with alcohol.
The campaign launches today, which marks one of the busiest days of the year for the emergency services as Christmas parties lead to alcohol-related injuries and violence.
Alcohol harm costs the region an estimated £1.01 billion every year, equating to around £386 for every man, woman and child.
New research has shown more than one in four people in the North East are drinking above the low risk guidelines of 14 units a week for both men and women, Dry January encourages people to take a break which can give the body a chance to recover.
An estimated 72% of people who complete Dry January say they are drinking less six months later.
Alongside Hartlepool Borough Council and staff at Hartlepool United, Balance is promoting the benefits of giving the body a rest from booze, including losing weight, sleeping better and saving money.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, the council’s interim director of public health, said: “This January, we are urging Hartlepool people to start the new year right and see how much better they can feel after a drink-free month.
“Research has shown the majority of those who take part in the annual challenge end up drinking less and more infrequently in the long run.
“After a December of excess and festive fun, make it your mission to ditch the drink and in the process, save money, lose weight and feel healthier.”
Lisa French, 49, from Hartlepool, has spent the last 13 years battling alcohol and mental health issues in the wake of her mother’s death but is now sharing her story to help others. Through support from HART and Addaction, Lisa has undertaken a reduction programme and counselling.
She is now looking forward to taking part in her first Dry January challenge.
Lisa said: “I found out about Dry January through HART and Addaction and knew I wanted to take part this year, as it is the first time I’m in a position to do it successfully.
“I am looking forward to doing it as I’m not planning on having a drink over Christmas and New Year.
“I don’t feel the need to have a drink to enjoy myself.
“I know by not drinking I will have more fun and be happier.
“I also want to encourage people who think they might have an issue with alcohol to seek help, as there are a lot of services out there that can help you.
“From my experiences I have learnt that you can’t judge people. “Lots of different people have problems, we don’t know what their stories are.
“But everyone should be able to access the same support services.
“They made a huge difference to my life and I will always be incredibly grateful.”
Days Off, a Dry January app, has been launched to offer support and people can sign up via www.dryjanuary.org.uk.