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New Year’s resolutions do not work – people cannot stop drinking by themselves

Posted February 1, 2018

Many people notice that they are drinking too much. When New Year comes they promise themselves to cut down on alcohol, but can they really follow this resolution? Scientists from the University of Bristol decided to find out whether people with such New Year resolutions manage to reduce their alcohol consumption. Results showed that this promise is hard to keep.

A simple New Year’s resolution is not enough to cut down on alcohol, even though people feel motivated at first. Image credit: Didier Descouens via Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

There is a strong basis for these people to succeed. The main reason why they should be able to cut down on alcohol is that they made the decision themselves without any outside pressure. However, when scientists researched the drinking patterns of nearly 3,000 drinkers who said that they want to cut down, they found that six month later only very few managed to stay on track to their goal. And it is not like they didn’t have motivation to follow their plan. This research showed that usually such decision was made because of health concerns, wish to lose weight, improve physical appearance and so on.

Scientists interviewed 2,928 drinkers, 20 % of them said that they was to cut down on alcohol because of their personal motivation. Then researchers followed up on them six month later just to find out that those who were not planning to quit drinking and those who did reduced their drinking by the same amount. This is actually worrisome results. Scientists were hoping to prove that motivation is what can drive reduction of alcohol consumption. However, instead they discovered that even motivation alone doesn’t help. Something more has to be done to reduce the intake. And that is very important, because alcohol consumption is a huge public health concern both in UK and elsewhere.

January is a good month to turn a new page, get rid of harmful habits and essentially start a new, cleaner life. That is what many people are trying to do with their New Year’s resolutions. However, many fail, including those who are trying to cut down on alcohol. But what can be done to help them? Dr Frank de Vocht, one of the authors of the study, said: “For people who are serious in their intention to reduce consumption, obtaining structural support, for example by signing up to the Dry January campaign, may help. Alternatively, smartphone apps are also being tested as a way to help people reduce their intake, but it’s too early to say whether these can make a difference”.

Quitting drinking is a good way to change your life. But you must do it for the right reasons and seek help when necessary. There are professionals willing to help and friends to keep you on track.


Source: University of Bristol

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