Following the growing popularity of 'Dry January', MacMillan cancer support are promoting 'Go Sober for October'. Currently around 36,000 people have signed up to take part, pledging over £160,000 so far.
Earlier this year we reported on the growing popularity of Dry January, Alcohol Concern's campaign which attracted over 17,000 sign ups - up 400% on its 2013 launch year. In addition, Cancer Research UK's Dryathlon challenge reported over 54,000 'dry athletes', reportedly raising a massive £5.7 million.
There are however question marks over the true health value of such 'month off' approaches, mainly over whether any lasting impact on drinking behaviour is likely. Andrew Langford of the British Liver Trust has warned against the appeal of a "quick fix in January" rather than messages such as two or three alcohol free days in every week of the year; a month off may do little to reduce longer term risks of regularly drinking above the guidelines.
However a New Scientist study reported promising short term health benefits, albeit a very small sample of 'normal drinkers' who took time off drinking. Participants indicated reduced liver fat, cholesterol and blood sugar, and also lost weight, but also reported less socialising. However the most common reason for attempting a 'Dry January' was saving money, according to a poll.
Interestingly, as part of the 'Go Sober for October', a 'golden ticket' opportunity appears to offer a 'get out clause' - for a donation 'the Sober-Hero will be emailed their Golden Ticket stating the date they are entitled to drink.' MacMillan say 'The Golden Ticket is there for 'emergencies', but we'd prefer you to raise money by staying true to the challenge.' Some may regard this as cheating, others as pragmatic given many people admit to failing or not expecting to last Dry January attempts.
Public Health England are looking into the potential benefits of such 'month off' approaches, as well as the review into recommended consumption guidelines being due to report this year.
One final question one might feel compelled to wonder is whether any other months might soon have their own campaign? 'Moderation March' anyone? 'Drinks Diary December' perhaps?