Dry January gains more traction as the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence speaks out in support – and plans for similar campaigns later in the year.

The South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA) has spoken out about their support for the ‘Dry January’ campaign gaining popularity in the country.

Dry January is a voluntary, collective campaign to stop consuming alcohol completely for the first month of the year. According to Tiisetso Mokwena, SANCA Limpopo’s social work supervisor, this initiative helps participants commit to stop consuming the harmful product, at least for a month. Speaking to Capricorn, Mokwena suggested that such a campaign should occur throughout the year. This would help alcohol consumers help break the cycle of use and reflect on the benefits they experience. In Mr Mokwena’s experience, quitting alcohol on a temporary basis resulted in a 50% chance of quitting alcohol in the long-term.

The SANCA has already taken the initiative to continue similar campaigns throughout the year. The ‘Kick Your Habit’ program takes place in May and in June. It encourages the public to quit alcohol or any other destructive substance.

Potential of Dry January to reduce alcohol harm in South Africa

During the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa effectively used alcohol availability limits to ease the pressure on the healthcare system. South Africa implemented multiple short-term alcohol sales bans. The success of the temporary alcohol sales bans was documented in research analyzing the trauma case volume from Worcester Regional Hospital in South Africa

  • There was a 59% to 69% decrease in trauma volume between the no ban and the temporary alcohol sales ban 1 periods, when alcohol was widely available again.
  • Trauma volume dropped again by 39% to 46% with the temporary alcohol sales ban 2. 
  • Partial bans of alcohol sales were not effective in reducing trauma volumes.

Dry January, if it is successful in South Africa, has the potential to reduce trauma incidence in the country significantly. This would ease the burden on the healthcare system for the month. Given expert opinion that the campaign could trigger more lasting change among alcohol users, the healthcare system could also expect the change to be a lasting one in the months and years to follow.

Source Website: Capricorn FM