National mental health charity Turn2Me is encouraging people doing ‘Dry January’ to upgrade the challenge to ‘One Year No Beer’ – a year of sobriety.
The charity has stated that reducing alcohol, or cutting it out completely, can improve your mental health; because alcohol is a depressant, it can make anxiety and depression worse, it can reduce sleep quality, and it can heighten stress levels.
According to Drinkaware, 61 per cent of Irish adults report they drink to cope with stressful times.
“Many people like a few glasses of wine to unwind after a long day, but using alcohol to numb emotions or to reduce stress is counterproductive," said Fiona O’Malley, CEO of Turn2Me. "After the initial relaxing effects wear off, the problems at the root of the stress are still there and may be heightened under the influence of alcohol.
“Alcohol is a depressant, and it disrupts how the brain functions," she explained. "Many celebrities, including Zac Efron, Lily Allen, Bradley Cooper, Russell Brand, Eva Mendes, Blake Lively, Naomi Campbell, and Natalie Portman don’t drink. They have spoken about how much physically and mentally better they feel, having cut out alcohol from their lives. Sober celebrities can be great role models for young people or anyone who is sober-curious.”
Excessive alcohol also leads to the development of serious health issues including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, digestive problems, and cancer. According to Drinkaware, drinking six or more standard drinks is classified as ‘binge drinking’. A bottle of wine (12.5 per cent ) has more than six standard drinks.
Turn2Me stated that setting yourself the challenge of completing a year of being sober is a good way to cut out the negative effects of alcohol from your life, and to become more aware of your relationship with alcohol. The charity stated that although drinking to excess is common in Ireland, the culture of sobriety is growing.
“The Virgin Mary pub in Dublin 1 opened its doors in 2019, claiming to be the country’s first booze-free bar,” Fiona O’Malley said. “Sports stars have normalised not drinking coming up to matches and training, and the growing culture of marathons, 10km runs, triathlons, and Iron Mans has encouraged people to give up alcohol for months on end or to cut it out completely.”
Turn2Me is encouraging anyone who is feeling anxious, depressed, or is going through a period of grief to sign up to its free one-to-one counselling sessions or free support groups, available on the Turn2Me website, Turn2Me.ie Turn2Me offers free, professional mental health services 365 days a year, even on Christmas Day.