Amateur rugby player Stephen Parsons has been tackling a different kind of challenge this month by taking part in Alcohol Concern’s Dry January campaign and is now just days away from success.
The 29-year-old, a player and coach for Morpeth Rugby Club, signed up for a month on the wagon after being dared to by some of his teammates and colleagues at Northumberland County Council.
Now, just 10 days away from completing the challenge, Stephen, of Morpeth, is already experiencing a range of benefits associated with cutting out booze including being more alert during the day, feeling more energetic and saving money.
Stephen, a Newcastle Falcons fan, said: “I decided to give Dry January a go mainly because drinking is a large part of the social culture around rugby, and I want to tackle my own attitude to it.
“I don’t drink every day, but on a Saturday, I will often have at least three or four pints when I’m watching the match or after playing a game.
“I was also keen to see if I could see the challenge through and to start off the new year on a healthy note.
“I had some basic health checks before I began, including blood pressure, weight and measurements, so I will be able to track exactly what effects a month off the booze will have.
“Even after just two weeks, I already felt a lot better.
“I am starting to feel my trousers get a little looser, and I seem to be a lot more energetic over the weekend, with no hangovers.
“I’m also starting to see the benefit in my pocket, with the money I’ve saved going towards a summer holiday.
“The biggest challenge of the month so far came when the Falcons won their first match of the season. I very rarely watch a game at Kingston Park without indulging in a drink, but, despite some stick from friends, I saw the celebrations through without any alcohol.
“I know it can be tough but I’m sure everyone who has been dry since January 1 is already starting to feel the benefits, and for anyone considering cutting back, it’s not too late to sign up and give it a go.”
Dry January is being backed by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, and Mary Edwards, its programme manager for alcohol treatment, said: “New year is a natural time to want to take stock of our health and make a fresh start.
“It’s great to hear Stephen is doing so well during his first attempt at tackling the Dry January challenge.
“The campaign aims to get people thinking about how much they drink and, in doing so, be able to make informed choices about their drinking in future, which is just what Stephen is doing.
“Dry January is all the more important given the new alcohol guidelines, which highlight the link between alcohol and cancer, even when alcohol is consumed at relatively low levels.
“We often don’t realise how much we are drinking and how it can impact on our health until we take a step back.
“I hope that other people across the region are having as much success as Stephen with Dry January and look forward to hearing how he feels at the end of the month.”
Stephen is blogging about his month off booze at dryjanuary2016.blogspot.co.uk
To find out more about the campaign, visit www.dryjanuary.org.uk