Another glass too much of beer, wine and schnapps? Especially after the New Year, many resolve to abstain from alcohol for at least a month – under the motto “Dry January”. Here you can find out what the consequences of not drinking alcohol are and how quickly your liver can recover.
Especially over the Christmas and New Year’s Eve, many Germans like to have one or two more drinks. In January, some now want to step on the alcohol brake and treat their liver to a few relieving detox weeks – or also check how difficult it is for them to do without a beer after work, a glass of wine with dinner or a drink at the weekend in general.
Under the motto “Dry January”, originally a health campaign from England, they abstain from any alcohol for a month. But what does that do for the organism, the metabolism, the well-being? We explain what happens after a day, a week and a month – and what effects the waiver would have if it lasted for a whole year.
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If you don’t start an alcohol-free day with a proper hangover from the night before, you won’t notice any physical changes from mini-abstinence. At best, the pilsner or the glass of wine in the evening is missed and the mineral water is perceived as a less than satisfactory substitute in terms of taste. However, this is not yet a sign of an incipient dependency, but simply the break with a pleasant daily habit.
Jarmila Mahlmeister, chief physician at the Betty Ford Clinic in Bad Brueckenau says: “For people with normal alcohol consumption, anyone who can easily do without alcohol two days a week is not dependent.”
Experts recommend this regular short abstinence anyway, especially for a more conscious handling of the potential addictive substance. However, anyone who keeps thinking about not being allowed to drink anything on an alcohol-free day or who has to fight very hard not to get an alcoholic drink from the nearest gas station in the evening should seriously reconsider their consumption. Because alcohol already plays a dominant role in everyday life and the border to addiction is close.
Anyone who has previously consumed alcoholic beverages every day can already notice the first physical changes in the first few days, which become even clearer after two weeks:
Mahlmeister adds: “If the liver is relieved by abstaining from alcohol, it immediately breaks down stored fats. The triglycerides are reduced after just a few days, while the cholesterol levels take longer. But in general, our liver recovers amazingly quickly.”
There are good numbers for this period from Great Britain, wherever an alcohol-free campaign is launched in January: studies by the University of Sussex after “Dry January” have shown what the avoidance of beer, wine and spirits actually achieves. After 31 days without alcohol, participants not only had better control over their drinking, they also had more energy, better skin, and less weight.
The January abstainers also registered better sleep, lower blood pressure and greater ability to concentrate. “We hear from many participants that they feel healthier and happier afterwards. And that they don’t need alcohol to have fun and relax,” says Richard Piper of Alcohol Change UK, the creators of Dry January.
The expert from the Betty Ford Clinic adds:
And: “Anyone who hasn’t drunk alcohol for a whole year can actually do without it in the future,” says Jarmila Mahlmeister. “Even if alcohol is ‘part of it’ in many social situations, giving up does not mean a loss of quality of life.”
But if you don’t want to do without it completely, you should keep the rules for moderate consumption in mind: for men, half a liter of beer or a quarter of a liter of wine is “allowed” per day. Women who break down alcohol less well should not drink more than half of it.