On the pulse: Did south west Londoners survive Dry January?

Mixed emotions greeted the end of Dry January today, with some embracing their achievement while others were raising a toast, heartily relieved the month is over.

The campaign, by charity Alcohol Concern in partnership with Public Health England, sees cocktail queens and beer guzzlers attempt a sponsored sober January to raise money for charity and improve public health.

The New Year trend is relatively new to the UK, first making waves in the post-Christmas daze of 2014, now dry bars are growing in popularity more than two million people took part last year and the number is expected to keep increasing year on year.

Research has shown that those who abstain from the booze are more likely to cut long-term drinking, although The British Liver Trust believe a few alcohol-free days a week are more beneficial than a one-month ‘quick fix’.

With that in mind, we took to Wimbledon’s streets to see if those who’d taken the challenge had fallen off the wagon and stayed dry, and how they felt afterwards.

Did you manage to complete Dry January?

YES                                         NO

63%                                        37%

Laurie Andrews, 21, a University of Leeds student visiting Wimbledon, was among those tasting success after going 31 days drink-free.

She said: “My friends challenged me to do it, thinking I couldn’t because I’m Scottish! But I proved them wrong, and now I’m getting free drinks off them for the next month!”

“I quite enjoyed doing it, more to say I could rather than because I wanted to. One of my friends celebrated her 21st birthday during the month, and that was certainly the hardest part of the challenge.

“My friends challenged me to do it, thinking I couldn’t because I’m Scottish!”

Alasdair Evans, from Raynes Park, said: “It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. I’m not a heavy drinker by any stretch, but I didn’t miss the occasional pint as much as expected.

“I think it’s certainly going to lead me to drink a little bit less each week and put the money to better uses.”

Despite those success stories, figures showed that more than 90% of those taking part nationally failed before 23 days even passed.

South West Londoner’s own Ellie Walter lasted 17 days alcohol-free but succumbed to the allure of a glass of wine while tucking into her favourite Sunday meal.

She said: “I wanted to see how long I could do it, and thought why not go for the challenge?

“I knew I didn’t have any large drinking plans for the first two weeks, but I just couldn’t resist when having my Sunday roast.”

Tom Smith, 35, also cut his challenge short after just eight days, but doesn’t have any regrets about his decision.

“I don’t see myself as a “binge-drinker” anyway, so I don’t think there’s too much concern,” he said.

“I found that people were going out socialising, and it just wasn’t as fun when sober, hence why I called it a day.”

Mr Smith was not the only person craving a drink over the month.

“I just couldn’t resist when having my Sunday roast.”

One man clasping his pint jested he gave up the challenge after half a day, which he labelled ‘the worst period of his life’.

Despite the sobriety month, some Wimbledon pubs reported little difference in the number of customers, while others have seen more punters since the New Year.

Picture courtesy of Didriks, with thanks

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