With the number of people drinking at ‘high risk’ levels doubling to almost 8.5million since February, a second lockdown amidst winter months is set to only exacerbate levels of dangerous drinking across the nation, warns Ruari Fairbairns, Co-founder and CEO of One Year No Beer.
Fairbairns is keen for the nation try to stay on track with any positive drinking habits created during ‘Sober October’, instead of falling back into old habits which could lead to many overcompensating on alcohol consumption as they come off the back of a month of sobriety.
Fairbairns comments, “If we’re not careful, we’re very quickly going to find ourselves in a situation where everyone is undoing all of the positive steps that they have taken to abstain from alcohol last month and we are going to end up a nation of people drinking even more than before, as they continue to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism during these winter months.
“The mental impact of lockdown is so damaging and we know this from YouGov research that we conducted earlier in the year that directly linked lockdown to a decline in mental health with as many as one in four attributing loneliness as the main culprit. There is not nearly enough being done nationwide to communicate the POSITIVE implications of drinking less and this is something that needs to change.
What happens to your body in the first few days?
1 – 12 HOURS– An hour after your last drink, your liver starts working overtime, clearing the alcohol from your bloodstream to prevent alcohol poisoning. Alcohol is poison and the liver has to alter its chemical structure so it doesn’t kill us – changing alcohol to acetaldehyde and then acetate.
Acetaldehyde, a highly toxic substance and a known carcinogen, so although acetaldehyde exists in the body only for a brief time before it is further broken down into acetate, it has the potential to cause significant damage. You may experience nausea and tremor as your body deals with all this. At the time your pancreas also starts producing extra insulin, which causes intense carb cravings.
12-24 HOURS– Your blood sugar has potentially normalised if you haven’t created a glycemic roller-coaster by sugar and carb binging. To rebalance, eat healthy foods and drink lots of water.
48 -72 HOURS– For most, the worst is over by now. Although you may still feel groggy and tired depending on how much booze your body had to process. If, however, you had a bigger booze problem than you realised, then sweating, increased pulse, tremor, anxiety and agitation may continue or kick in at this time. A serious alcohol problem may need medical support from your GP to prevent fits or DTs.
72 hours onwards– Any hangover side effects are now officially out of your system, you finally feel back to yourself physically and mentally. And to think this is only 72 hours into your quest to stop drinking alcohol for a month.
Research has also shown that drinking alcohol is a habit that may take longer to disrupt than othersbecause it is a strongly incentivised, reward-based behaviour – the brain has associated alcohol with pleasure at some point in time with the release of dopamine in the brain creating a craving to do it again.
OYNB has recently launched their New Year Now campaign which aims to support people towards making positive lifestyle choices now, rather than waiting for key milestone dates like Dry January or the start of 2021 to kickstart their journey towards a healthier lifestyle. The sole mission behind the campaign is to encourage people to acknowledge the impact that C19 has had on their drinking behaviour and support them in committing to a longer alcohol-free streak than just one month. That commitment will empower them to start 2021 off with a really solid foundation for physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Fairbairns concludes: “At OYNB we focus on the habit-changing process, rather than just deleting alcohol from your life. We’ll help you break down and rebuild new habits as well as develop a new mindset that gives you complete control, something that will last way past finishing your challenge.”