Was my dry January for the wrong cause?

It wasn’t hard, but I’m glad it’s over: that’s the best summary I can find for taking part in the Dryathlon for the second January running. Life without alcohol felt calmer, but lacked the sharpening of mood and thought that a glass of wine can provide. The secret, of course, is to keep things moderate as the year goes on…

I’m pleased to have raised £160 for Cancer Research UK, partly by contributing my alcohol spend and partly by pestering long-suffering friends and colleagues. But I couldn’t help feeling that I was, in a way, raising money for the wrong charity.


Excessive use of alcohol is, of course, implicated in many kinds of cancer and is some cases might be the primary cause. But there are a lot of diseases and social problems, from cirrhosis of the liver to homelessness, where it can be more obviously the central factor. Part of me felt I should be giving to one of those causes instead.

In that context, I particularly liked the concurrent Dry January campaign by Alcohol Concern, which aimed to “start a new conversation about alcohol.” It took a thoughtful, laid-back  approach and contended that raising awareness was more important than raising money.

With CRUK you got the feeling of a powerful, well-oiled machine swinging into action: a pack of posters and no-beer mats, a wrist band, regular emails, ideas for prompting donations – all of it delivered in a relentlessly cheery, jokey tone.

It also seemed quite heavily angled towards young people – the posters all featured good-looking twenty-somethings squinting longingly at a pint of lager.

Granted, that’s the age group where the bingeing takes place and better habits need to be encouraged. But what about the old farts in danger of drinking themselves to death? We seem to have been airbrushed out of the picture…