Newcastle’s challenge to start the New Year by ditching the booze for 31 days

Councillor Arlene Ainsley, Susan Taylor, Partnership Manager, Balance and Councillor Kim McGuinness
Councillor Arlene Ainsley, Susan Taylor, Partnership Manager, Balance and Councillor Kim McGuinness

Newcastle’s challenge to start the New Year by ditching the booze for 31 days.

  • Annual Dry January campaign launches today (15 December) on one of the busiest days of the year for the emergency services.
  • Findings reveal an estimated 8% of North East adults - 168,899 people – are already planning to take part in Dry January 2018.

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is urging friends, families and work colleagues in Newcastle to come together and take on the 2018 Dry January challenge, as a recent YouGov poll[i] found almost one in 10 people in the North East – 168,899 people – are already planning on taking part.

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, 15 December, 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 £1.01bn every year, including £209m to the NHS and £331m in crime and disorder costs, equating to around £386 for every man, woman and child[ii].

With recent findings showing 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.

In 2015, the Royal Free Hospital in London found an alcohol-free month has a positive impact on blood sugar levels, blood pressure and the liver. And an estimated 72% of people who complete Dry January say they are drinking less six months later[iii].

Alongside Newcastle City Council and staff at the Civic Centre, Balance is promoting the many benefits of giving your body a break from booze, including losing weight, sleeping better and saving money.

The North East has led the way in terms of Dry January sign ups over the past four years, with the highest proportion of people taking up the challenge, compared to any other region in the country.
The same YouGov poll shows 6% of UK adults are planning to take part – around 3.1m people.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “After the excesses of the festive period, Dry January is a great opportunity to give your body a break from alcohol at a time when many other people are also taking a month off.

“Drinking above the low risk limit puts us at more risk from around 60 different medical conditions, including at least seven types of cancer. Regular drinking also makes us more tired, anxious and less productive, so taking some time out can have real positive effects on our health and wellbeing.

“Dry January can also stop drinking becoming too much of a regular thing – research shows three-quarters of people who complete the month are drinking at lower levels six months on.

“We’re encouraging people to give get family, friends and colleagues on board too. It can be a real motivating factor taking on a challenge together and we know that it can make us more likely to succeed.”

This year’s campaign is again supported by Newcastle City Council, who are joining the calls for local people to take on the challenge.

Councillor Jane Streather, portfolio holder for Health and Housing at Newcastle City Council said;

“The Dry January campaign is the perfect way to join people from across Newcastle and give up alcohol for 30 days.

“We continue to work with our services and partners such as Balance to support residents who want to reduce the amount they drink.

“Giving up alcohol is a great way to lose weight and you can combine your Dry January efforts with our Newcastle Can campaign to track how much weight you lose.

“People are often surprised at how many calories are in alcohol, a pint of 5% beer can be the equivalent of a bag of crisps and a 175ml glass of wine is the same as a chocolate mini roll.

“The Newcastle Can campaign has challenged the city to lose 100,000lbs and is part of a documentary series being filmed for the BBC.

“Thousands of residents are organisations are taking part in the campaign this year creating an alcohol free movement across Newcastle.”

People are also being encouraged to take part in Dry January as part of the ‘Newcastle Can’ campaign – which challenges the city to collectively lose 100,000 pounds in one year. For more info, visit or use the hashtag #NewcastleCan

Some more facts about Dry January 2017.

  • 79% of participants said they saved money. The average person spends £50,000 on booze in their lifetime
  • 62% said they had more energy and slept better
  • 49% lost weight

Top tips for seeing Dry January through to the end:


  • Don’t forget to include Dry January on your Facebook or Instagram page. It might also encourage your friends and is a good way to give a mention to your favourite charity if you are fundraising.


  • Take part with a friend and spur each other on – people who take part in Dry January with someone else are more likely to go the full month. Buddying up means you’ll support each other through any wobbles, celebrate each other’s achievements and enjoy other distractions and treats together.
  • Try something new – take advantage of feeling better in yourself and join the gym or try a new sport. Even just getting out into the fresh air and blowing away those cobwebs (hangover free!), will make you feel great. 
  • Keep track of progress – regular drinking can soon pile on the pounds in more ways than one and it’s a good idea to keep a record of weight loss or money saved as a great way of helping you stay on track.
  • Download the Dry January app available on iOS and Android to help track progress, and for handy tips and tricks.


After Dry January you might not feel like another full month off. But it might get you thinking about taking more days off drinking, especially midweek. Why not download the Public Health  England Days Off app?


To sign up to Dry January, find out more about the campaign and to access a wealth of support and advice, visit the Dry January website at

For more information about Balance, visit or


- ENDS -

[i] Figures taken from YouGov poll commissioned by Alcohol Concern. Total sample size (UK wide) was 2,086 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30 November - 1 December 2017.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+). The survey found the North East to be the second most likely area in the UK where people are most likely to be planning to do Dry January with 8% planning to take part.

[ii]  Latest available figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre