Mind and Body
Dry January Has Financial Benefits for 88% of People in Alcohol Study
When the calendar culminates on New Year’s Eve, many people will celebrate with bubbling champagne and boozy toasts. Others, however, will take their first sober steps to actual sobriety — at least for a month or so. Dry January, which started off as a public health campaign, means no alcohol for 31 days — a difficult feat, but studies show that turning off the tap can do wonders for both your health and your pocketbook.
According to research released Friday, going alcohol-free for 31 days is associated with changes in drinking habits and lifestyle that last beyond the month. In a survey of 800 British people who stuck it out through Dry January and their self-reported behavior from January to August, a research team from the University of Sussex found that their drinking days fell, on average, from 4.3 to 3.3 days per week, and units consumed per drinking day dropped, on average, from 8.6 to 7.1. By August, 88 percent of the Dry January participants said they saved money they would normally spend on booze.
Considering the massive amount of money that Americans spend on alcohol each year, this is not surprising. According to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for distilled spirits consumed away from home increased by 36 percent from October 2006 to 2016. In the same period, prices for beer, ale, and other malt beverages increased by 27 percent. All of that is to say: Going out for drinks is expensive.
In turn, Americans spend about 1 percent of their gross annual income on alcohol, which means that out of every $100 Americans spend, about $1 goes to booze. This means that the average household spends about $565 a year on alcohol.
Of course, the amount of money you can save by participating in Dry January will depend on where you live and how much you drink. A beer at a bar in Los Angeles ($4.61) is not quite as pricey as a beer in New York ($8.97), according to the Wall Street Journal. On average, 30 percent of Americans drink less than one drink per week, but the top ten percent drink an average of 74 drinks per week. That means that about 24 million Americans are having about 10 drinks per day.
As a country, the cost of excessive alcohol use is huge — in 2010, the price tag rose to $249 billion, or about $2.05 per drink. About 77 percent of these costs were because of binge drinking, federally defined as consuming four or more drinks per sitting for women and five or more drinks per sitting for men.
If you want to calculate your own spending on alcohol, the US National Institutes of Health has a nifty calculator. )