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Dry January

Posted January. 07, 2019 07:26,   

Updated January. 07, 2019 08:57


"Dry January," which means steering clear of alcohol for the entire month of January, has been gaining steam for several years in New York, as a public health project by a British non-profit organization went viral via social networks in 2013. The campaign is successful considering that four million people decided to join it. Some are even trying on "Dry December," the month that involves a lot of social occasions.

What happens if we stop drinking for a month? Dr. Richard de Visser, a psychologist at the University of Sussex, conducted a six-month long experiment on 816 people who tried Dry January last year and found that 80 percent of the participants had more control over alcohol consumption and drank less – from 4.3 times to 3.3 times a week.

They also became healthier. Fifty-eight percent of the participants lost weight and 54 percent said they had better skin than before. Seventy-one percent slept better, 57 percent had better concentration, 67 percent felt more energetic, and 88 percent saved money as well.

Korea spends some 10 trillion won every year as social cost of drinking. Around 66.7 percent of Korean citizens said they do not feel safe in public because of drunken people and their violence. A young man named Yoon Chang-ho died because of a drunk driver last year. This led to legislation, which strengthens punishment on drunk driving, but lawmakers themselves and celebrities are still driving under the influence in reality.

Alcohol consumption will go down as the 52-hour work per week policy is implemented and people will have their own time during the evening, but it would not drastically change the drinking culture. Why don't we build more control over our drinking habits by trying Dry January? "Dry Korea" will become a reality when it is hard to spot drunken people on the street and people stop drinking at the park where our children play around. If not, the new legislation will go in vain.

Now is the time to change the conventional wisdom that we need to drink to become successful. U.S. President Donald Trump, who does not drink at all, has become president of the United States. He even joked that he would be a mess and the world’s worst if he drunk. Would he be the only one who would be a mess with drinking?

Yong Park parky@donga.com