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Macmillan Cancer Support estimates the average Brit spends a year of their life suffering from alcohol abuse. Is it time to give your liver a break?  

Let’s be honest. We’ve all woken up with a hangover so terrible we put a ban on alcohol the moment our dry, stale mouths can actually muster a sentence. “Never again,” we splutter as we fumble through the contents of our kitchen cupboard in search of aspirin. “Never again will I suffer ‘£1 a pint’ student nights.”

And then, it happens; the moment we’ve been dreading. We receive an email from a former flat mate asking to meet up for … drinks! We’ve not even made it through the front door when someone hands us a treble V&C and just like that we fall off that week-long wagon. Our time a teetotal student is undoubtedly over, as we happily neck shots and dance on the table like we’re Paris sodding Hilton.

According to a recent survey by Macmillan Cancer Support, the average Brit spends a year of their life suffering from alcohol abuse. The charity, running the Go Sober for October campaign, questioned more than 2,000 Brits and found that one in 14 will have more than 3,000 hangovers in their lifetime; a figure calculated by multiplying the average amount of time people spend hungover each month with their life expectancy.

I’m sure many will give a big “thumbs up” to any campaign encouraging students to drink less. But, could Go Sober be a step too far? The campaign challenges drinkers to go cold turkey for a month while raising money for cancer research. I’ve had several friends who have taken part in similar campaigns. Remember the age-old favorite Dry January; the new years alternative to cutting back on the many bottles consumed over the festive period. We all celebrate the end of the month, of course. In fact, once we finish Dry January we start a very, very “Wet February” as normal service is resumed, chugging back the pints and making up for lost time.

In the words of Macmillan, agreeing to abstain from alcohol makes you a “sober-hero.” My concern is the quick fix nature of these campaigns, which suggest that it is better to stop and start drinking rather than drink in moderation. It’s hardly surprising that the majority of students are back on the booze following a month of braving the dark and dingy world of clubbing without touching a single drop. Similarly, after a heavy night out, I swore off alcohol for a month (sound familiar?) As the month passed dragged on it became harder to resist and inevitably I was back to my old tricks. So I found out – the hard way – a month without alcohol results in an incredibly low tolerance to the drug and will only increase your desire to drink.

My advice

Perhaps it would be more sensible to form a new challenge. How about, instead of cutting off your alcohol supply, we gradually reduce the number of units consumed each month? OK, so admittedly it may not seem as challenging as “Go Sober for a month” but consider the long term benefits. Instead of painfully sitting by and watching as your fellow flat mates drink themselves into oblivion you could join them! And, no, I’m not suggesting you go crazy and clear all drinks from behind the bar. But, honestly, it shouldn’t be a crime to indulge your drinking habit every now and again. My advice to you would be monitor your drinking, making sure you know your limits and most importantly keep in control.

For more information regarding the “Go Sober for October” campaign, please visit: http://www.gosober.org.uk/about