March 16, 2016 -- When Robert Parmer gave up alcohol, it wasn’t for any of your classic reasons. He didn’t have a run-in with the law. He wasn’t in a failing relationship. He didn’t get a stern lecture from a doctor.
Instead, the 25-year-old Boise State University student did it for his health -- and just to see if he could. A six-pack-a-night kind of guy, he decided to stop drinking during January 2015. He felt so good he extended it for 2 more months. He also took the challenge at the start of this year, and decided to stay on the wagon this February, too.
The benefits lasted long after he decided it was okay to have a beer again.
“Once I did start drinking again, I was a lot more mindful of using moderation and making sure I wasn’t getting so drunk that I had to figure out a ride home ... (I was) using a lot better judgment and having like one or two drinks over the course of the night instead of however many it led to because I got too drunk,” Parmer says.
Parmer says he was inspired by Dry January, which started in the United Kingdom in 2012. The campaign targets social drinkers, asking them to give up booze for the entire month of January. Two million people worldwide pledged to do so this year.
Participation in the event has grown each year, organizers say. Although it’s impossible to know how many Americans are giving it a try, the campaign has inspired social media buzz, as some writers and bloggers, like Parmer, have taken a break from alcohol and shared their experiences.
Len Horovitz, MD, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, noticed in late 2015 and early 2016 that more of his patients were asking about the benefits of giving up alcohol, though usually because they wanted to lose weight as part of a New Year’s resolution.
“Even a glass of wine is 250 to 300 calories. If you multiply that times seven, that’s 2,000 calories a week,” Horovitz says. “That’s about a pound of weight lost a week if nothing else changes and you simply eliminate alcohol.”