Food & Drink
Credit: Quinn Dombrowski

Dry January reaches record number in 2023, says Alcohol Change UK

An estimated nine million British people are taking part in this year’s Dry January according to a recent study.

Alcohol Change UK – the charity behind it – say this is up from around eight million in 2022, while just an estimated 4,000 people took part when it first took place in 2013. 

Dry January challenges the UK population to go the entire month without consuming alcohol, and people can sign up to the Alcohol Change UK app to officially participate. 

Emily Robinson, Dry January founder, said: “Ten years on, it’s wonderful to see how Dry January has become the huge phenomenon it is today.

The number of people who have downloaded the Try Dry app over the past five years, with exact numbers still to be revealed for 2023

“I’m incredibly proud of the campaign and would encourage anyone who’s interested in feeling happier and healthier to give it a try.”  

Over the typical week, a British drinker consumes an average 13.7 units of alcohol – equivalent to around six pints of beer – while one in four say they drank more in 2022 than the previous year. 

One in six say they used it to cope with the cost of living crisis and one in seven prioritised buying alcohol over essential items like groceries. 

Ailar Hashemzadeh, Alcohol Change UK’s Director of Research and Public Affairs, said: “Over the past few years, things have been incredibly tough for so many people and the cost of living crisis is making things even tougher. 

“Since its launch 10 years ago, Dry January has provided the brilliant opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people to take a break from drinking and have a total reset.

“It can help to relieve anxiety and helps you remember that you don’t need alcohol to have fun, relax, celebrate, unwind or anything else. It puts you back in control of your drinking.” 

The challenge hasn’t come without its critics though, given the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry – yet one Manchester pub has recognised the need to adapt. 

UK Hospitality revealed in February 2022 that the industry had lost £115bn after two years of Covid-19

Sam Russell, General Manager of North Taproom Circle Square, said: “For the last two years, we’ve brewed a non-alcoholic beer and did a collaboration with Brew Low.

“This year we’ve launched our own non-alcoholic beer. For us, that is a way to show that it’s still possible to drink good craft beer without the alcohol content.

“We have a low and no-alcohol menu which has in the region of 10 non-alcoholic drinks.”

When asked how the public has reacted to that, Sam said: “Really positive. The sales have been good, but also the feedback saying that it’s really good to see a range.

“And also the consideration that’s gone into non-alcoholic options, rather than just offering a token gesture to tick a box.” 

Then in a message to his colleagues, Sam added: “From our perspective, we see it as a challenge more than a hindrance.

“People still want to socialise but I think it’s about creating a hospitable and welcoming environment which doesn’t have to centre around alcohol.

“That’s where I believe there’s a need for the hospitality industry to adapt because I don’t think it’s just Dry January.

“I heard that now 25% of 18-year-olds don’t consume alcohol. So I think that increase uptake of Dry January is reflective of a societal change and its attitudes towards alcohol.”


Feature image: Quinn Dombrowski

Bar image: Vicente Rodriguez Delgado 

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