bad spirits | 

Mental health charity asks drinkers to turn ‘Dry January’ into ‘One Year No Beer’

The charity is encouraging people to go sober for 2023.

Stock image: Photo: PA© PA

Vaughan Yates of The Virgin Mary Bar, Dublin, has created alcohol-free ‘mood-boosting’ cocktails. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

A mental health charity has asked drinkers to upgrade their ‘Dry January’ challenge into ‘One Year No Beer.’

The pitch to live fully sober for 2013 has been made by Turn2Me, who say going without booze can be the key to better mental health.

Around 60 pc of Irish people have reported they drink to cope with stress, a major warning sign for the charity.

“Many people like a few glasses of wine to unwind after a long day but using alcohol to numb emotions or to reduce stress is counterproductive,” said Fiona O’Malley, CEO of Turn2Me.

"After the initial relaxing effects wear off, the problems at the root of the stress are still there and may be heightened under the influence of alcohol.”

Having six or more standard drinks – equal to a bottle of wine or four pints – is classified as ‘binge drinking’

“Alcohol is a depressant, and it disrupts how the brain functions. Many celebrities, including Zac Efron, Lily Allen, Bradley Cooper, Russell Brand, Eva Mendes, Blake Lively, Naomi Campbell, and Natalie Portman don’t drink,” she added.

"They have spoken about how much physically and mentally better they feel, having cut out alcohol from their lives.

"Sober celebrities can be great role models for young people or anyone who is sober-curious.”

She added: “The Virgin Mary pub in Dublin 1 opened its doors in 2019, claiming to be the country’s first booze-free bar.

Vaughan Yates of The Virgin Mary Bar, Dublin, has created alcohol-free ‘mood-boosting’ cocktails. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

“Sports stars have normalised not drinking coming up to matches and training, and the growing culture of marathons, 10km runs, triathlons and Iron Mans have encouraged people to give up alcohol for months on end or to cut it out completely.”

The move to less booze is also a plus for physical health, the charity says.

Drinking can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, digestive problems, and cancer.

A recent Drinkaware survey said a “critically low” number of people in Ireland who say they have a high mental wellbeing.

Just 27% of the population reported a high wellbeing, a shocking contrast to pre-pandemic levels of 63% of people.

Over half of people reported using alcohol to cope in the Drinkaware Annual Barometer.

The results showed how many Irish adults are binge drinking, something the HSE has warned interferes with chemicals in the brain and can negatively impact mental health.

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