1. ITV Report

The North East encouraged to have a drink-free January

People in the North East have been urged to give up drink this January. Credit: PA Images

One in every 10 people in the North East plans on having a dry January, according to new research.

Polling organisation YouGov ound that 168,899 people in this region are set to take on the challenge of not drinking alcohol in the first month of 2018.

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, has urged friends, families and work colleagues to come together and take on the endeavour in 2018, following the publication of this research.

Dry January, a campaign backed by charity Alcohol Concern, is now in its sixth year. It asks people to put the excesses of the festive period behind them and start the New Year with 31 days of being teetotal.

The aim is to help them feel healthier, save money and re-set their relationship with alcohol.

The campaign behind it launched today, which marks one of the busiest days of the year for the emergency services as Christmas parties lead to alcohol-related injuries and violence. Research has shown that alcohol harm costs the region an estimated £1.01bn every year, including £209m to the NHS and £331m in crime and disorder costs, equating to around £386 for every man, woman and child.

Recent findings also show more than a quarter of people in the North East are drinking above the low risk guidelines of 14 units a week for both men and women, the campaign encourages people to take a break which can give the body a chance to recover.

In 2015, the Royal Free Hospital in London found an alcohol-free month has a positive impact on blood sugar levels, blood pressure and the liver. And an estimated 72% of people who complete Dry January say they are drinking less six months later.

Alongside North East councils, Balance is promoting the many benefits of giving your body a break from booze, including losing weight, sleeping better and saving money.

The North East has led the way in terms of Dry January sign ups over the past four years, with the highest proportion of people taking up the challenge, compared to any other region in the country. The same YouGov poll shows six per cent of UK adults are planning to take part – around 3.1m people.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “After the excesses of the festive period, Dry January is a great opportunity to give your body a break from alcohol at a time when many other people are also taking a month off.

“Drinking above the low risk limit puts us at more risk from around 60 different medical conditions, including at least seven types of cancer. Regular drinking also makes us more tired, anxious and less productive, so taking some time out can have real positive effects on our health and wellbeing.

“Dry January can also stop drinking becoming too much of a regular thing – research shows three-quarters of people who complete the month are drinking at lower levels six months on.

“We’re encouraging people to give get family, friends and colleagues on board too. It can be a real motivating factor taking on a challenge together and we know that it can make us more likely to succeed.”

This year’s campaign is again supported by North East councils who are joining the calls for local people to take on the challenge.

To sign up to Dry January, find out more about the campaign and to access a wealth of support and advice, visit the Dry January website at

For more information about Balance, visit or