And, if we are, how best to ease our minds and bodies back into tipple or two after abstinence?
February 2 unofficial "Had a Few Too Many Day" follows increasingly popular Dry January, 31 days swerving demon drink servings since the Alcohol Change UK campaign;s launch a decade ago.
For those who passed on pints and shunned shorts - not misinterpreting "dry" as Sauvignon Blanc wine or Angry Orchard's Stone cider! - how can we fall off the wagon without falling into ill health?
Timely tips come from Laurence Cardwell, co-founder and CEO of www.survivorlife.com. “It’s very likely people who participated in Dry January will hit the bottle extra hard in February as a ‘reward’ for completing it but four weeks is a very short amount of time to see any significant changes to your alcohol tolerance.
"Instead, I would advise people to use Dry January as an opportunity to discover and experience the health benefits of responsible drinking and use it as a point of reference to guide their drinking for the rest of 2023 and beyond.”
So, what exactly happens to our body after drinking alcohol following a period of abstinence?
Experts behind the food supplement, designed to reduce alcohol’s negative impact on health and productivity, highlight points to consider ... if your hangover headache, hammering like a big bass drum, allows!
Your alcohol tolerance isn't likely to change
You will definitely feel your first hangover after a month of not drinking. However, on a larger scale, four weeks is a short amount of time to cause any discernible change to your alcohol tolerance. Additionally, as you gradually begin drinking again, your tolerance will return too. Consumption of a consistent amount of alcohol produces the same or lesser effect on your body and/or increasing amounts of alcohol are necessary to produce the same effect.
Eat beforehand to line your stomach
Not eating before a night of drinking is a dangerous game. Bottomless brunches are notorious for causing carnage. What can you do beforehand to manage your alcohol absorption? Eat a hearty meal with plenty of healthy fats and protein. Alcohol is absorbed most quickly in the small intestine, its effects on the rest of the body delayed as long as it remains in your stomach. Chicken salad with almonds and avocado is a brilliant pre-drinking meal.
Respect your body’s limits
As we age, our liver enzyme activity slows down over time and there are fewer liver cells in our body, which means we are unable to metabolise alcohol as quickly as yesteryear. Regrettably, this means hangovers get worse as we age, not to mention sleep quality also degrading over time, alcohol worsening that. Your blood alcohol levels rise much higher after a few drinks than when you were younger. Drinking alcohol should be a fun experience for all but it’s important to respect your body, particularly as you age, so you don’t feel rougher than badger's bottom the morning after night before.
Don’t just prepare for physical symptoms
When drinking, you might experience feelings of calmness, euphoria and relaxation – classic fuzzy feeling that may make you more bubbly than usual when enjoying responsible glass with friends or family. However, as your brain adjusts to these new sudden feelings, you can experience mini-withdrawal the next morning and might wake up with strong feelings of anxiety and restlessness, referred to as "hangxiety". Rehydrate yourself and eat healthy light snacks to help settle your stomach. Don’t underestimate the mind-body connection when dealing with hangxiety.
Avoid greasy foods as hangover cure
You might want to find comfort in fast food while nursing a hangover. If anything can make you feel better, surely fry-up or pizza can? Unfortunately, this is far from true! Your stomach will become even more overwhelmed and you’re unlikely to ease any physical symptoms of a hangover, even food is delicious. Despite the urban myth that greasy meals will "absorb" any residual alcohol, the only remnants in your system are toxins. Bananas or broth – albeit as exciting as drying Dulux – are both much better choices.
Consider cutting alcohol consumption
There’s a long list of health benefits cutting down or outright eliminating your alcohol consumption. For one, it can boost your overall energy, mental health and mood as drinking alcohol reduces your brain’s production of serotonin key neurotransmitter also known as the "happy chemical". Elsewhere, alcohol can also dehydrate your skin and disrupt your sleep. Dry January can be a good launching point for anyone who wants to start slowly reducing alcohol intake to be more health-conscious, drinking more mindfully.
There are many revolutionary food supplements available now, designed to reduce alcohol’s negative impact on the body. Such supplements include SURVIVOR, taken before, during and after drinking sessions to accelerate breakdown of alcohol’s most toxic byproducts, replenishing nutrients and improving sleep quality. Consider adding supplements such as these into your plans when you’re drinking alcohol to protect your body, making your next-day hangover all the more bearable.
Latest research by digital identity specialists suggests, while alcohol sales took an expected hit as Brits completed Dry January, enforced abstinence only causes us to drink more in coming months. "The momentary benefit of staying sober throughout January is being well and truly washed away in the months that follow," confirms ID Crypt Global.
Data reveals ...
Since Dry January began, alcohol, beverages and tobacco sales across Britain average £278.3 million per month.
This retail sector's spend is at its lowest monthly level in January at an average £202 million.
January and February average alcohol and tobacco spend comparison saw 10.1 per cent rise since 2013.
January to March difference in such spending widened to 49 per cent since Dry January's introduction.