Trafford Council is teaming up with NHS Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in January to promote the importance of health and wellbeing to staff in both organisations. As part of this, we’re doing our bit to raise awareness around the consumption of alcohol and the dangers it can pose. Here, you will find regular blog posts from the Council’s human resources lead for health and wellbeing, Richard Fontana as he takes part in Dry January. You will also find support and guidance on what you can do if you - or someone you know - is looking to cut down or stop altogether.
Richard Fontana's Dry January
So here we are, it’s a new year, a new decade and our usual quest for a fresh start after the festive season excesses.
I have to say I am no different, and after a groggy start to 2020 I aim to complete Dry January and not touch a drop of alcohol for at least 31 days as I look to become a fitter and healthier version of myself.
I would suggest I’m pretty representative of many people when it comes to having a few drinks – the odd one during the week, a drink on Friday night to ‘unwind’, Saturday drinks because ‘it’s Saturday’ and maybe a pint on Sunday to finish off the weekend.
Sometimes I drink less, sometimes on a night out, a few more. I don’t think I generally drink excessively, but I do know that sometimes the number I have in the week can certainly creep up on me and particularly towards the end of the year.
So why am I doing Dry January? I think it will help me reflect on my drinking habits and see how I don’t always need alcohol in order to relax, enjoy myself and socialise. I’m also hoping to see some benefits in my waist line, improved sleep and generally in how I feel. I’m sure there will be times when I miss having a tipple, but fingers crossed for a positive experience that will have benefits beyond January. I’ll be posting my thoughts every week throughout the month."
I’ve made it to the half way point so far, getting through two weekends with not so much as a sniff of booze. So now I can start counting down the days remaining in January!
I have to be honest and say that I’ve actually found it fairly easy up until now and have not really missed a drink at all. I’m sure this is due to a number of reasons. Firstly, the fact that I am writing about taking on Dry January certainly helps keep the mind focused on not wishing to publicly fail the challenge! Also, I’m still motivated to get fitter and in better shape as part of my January health kick. Finally, the social diary has been a little quieter as it often is at the very start of the year, so the temptation has not been there.
The main stumbling block, the weekly pub quiz, was replaced with a trip to the cinema which worked very well as an alternative night out (and I recommend the film 1917 if you get a chance to watch it!)
So am I noticing any benefits at this stage? Definitely lighter on the wallet, and without doubt I’ve woken up on the weekend feeling more refreshed. It’s all going well, but the next test will be a night out on Saturday evening - guess that makes me the designated driver! "
If you seem to be having trouble with your drinking, or if your drinking has reached a point that it worries you, you may be interested to know that there is local support available.
GP support – you may wish to seek advice and support from your local GP. During an appointment they will discuss your drinking habits, how often you drink and how many units you are drinking per week to see how likely it is that it is affecting your health. They will then discuss a number of options to support you on a journey to cut down and control your drinking, or stop completely. Please contact your GP practice today if you feel that this service could be of use to you.
Alternatively, we highly recommend getting in touch with our Trafford Specialist Alcohol Support Service – Achieve Trafford.
If you feel you need support, advice or help with your alcohol consumption then please get in touch with the team. Or if you’re a family member or carer who needs support and advice, please call Achieve Trafford who can discuss what help is available on 0161 358 0991. Opening times: Monday - Friday, 9am to 5pm – (open until 7pm on Thursdays). Or visit the website: https://www.gmmh.nhs.uk/achieve
Other support services available:
Alcoholics Anonymous and the AA programme of recovery from alcoholism. For more information visit the website or if you wish to speak with someone, please contact the 24/7 National Helpline on 0800 9177 650.
Drinkline – a free, confidential helpline for people concerned about their drinking or somebody else’s can call 0300 123 1110.
Dry January resources – https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january