‘Go dry for all of January’

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DRINKERS across Hartlepool were today urged to go booze-free for the whole of January.

Hartlepool is one of 12 local authorities backing a campaign which has been launched by Alcohol Concern and is called Dry January.

The campaign is being supported by the North East alcohol awareness group Balance as well as health professionals and public bodies in Hartlepool who are championing vintage tea parties and other activities as an alternative to boozy nights out in January.

Balance director Colin Shevills said: “Many of us are guilty of overdoing it a bit in December so we’re asking people in Hartlepool to think about how they plan to start the New Year now, before the temptations of Christmas drinking takes hold.

“Drinking more than the recommended limits - on a daily or almost daily basis - can have some serious long term implications for our health, including mouth and breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. In the short term, drinking too much can cause anxiety, impotence or even death from alcohol poisoning.”

Balance has joined forces with Hartlepool Borough Council to encourage people in Hartlepool to sign up to Dry January.

They want people to consider different options for socialising where alcohol would usually feature.

Louise Wallace, director of Public Health for Hartlepool, said: “We all enjoy a celebration but people can get carried away and drink far too much over Christmas and into the New Year, and that does harm their health.

“By taking a rest from alcohol throughout January, people will start to feel a benefit to their health. They’ll be able to get a clearer perspective on the amount of alcohol they have been consuming and we hope they will adjust their drinking habits accordingly.”

To find out more about the campaign, visit www.dryjanuary.org.uk for hints, tips and testimonials from those who took part last year.

The @dryjanuary Twitter page is also available to offer valuable support, ideas and posts from other participants.

Experts stressed that Dry January is not a medical detox programme and should not be attempted by people with an alcohol dependency problem – anyone considering reducing their alcohol intake in this situation should always seek medical advice first.