ONE in four people who drink alcohol in the North-East are considering abstaining for the rest of the month.

That is a finding of a new survey by Alcohol Change UK, the charity behind the Dry January movement.

It comes as regional drink awareness agency Balance and Durham County Council are urging people to challenge friends, families and colleagues to “try dry” for the rest of January.

People can download the free Try Dry app to track their units, calories, money savings as well as personalised goals during January.

A survey by Balance found nearly one in five people, about 397,000 in the region, have drunk more since the Covid crisis began.

Balance director Colin Shevills said: “It is too easy for regular drinking to turn into a daily habit but Covid has made this worse.

“It’s clear that many people feel alcohol is taking over and would like to cut down.”

Councillor Lucy Hovvels MBE, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for adult and health services, said: “A lot of people begin New Year with resolutions to lose weight, save money and get fit.

“One of the great things about Dry January is that it can contribute all those things, alongside lots of other fantastic health benefits.”

North-East GP, Dr Sarah Louden, said: “2020 was a really difficult year and we know that many people have been drinking more.

“As a GP, I see the harmful effects of alcohol on a regular basis.

“It impacts our mental and physical health, and as a depressant it can worsen anxiety and depression.

“Dry January isn’t about stopping drinking altogether, it’s about resetting our relationship with alcohol.

“The biggest benefit is how we feel in ourselves, and many people report feeling more positive, having more energy, sleeping better, saving money and losing weight.

“People often find that they are still drinking less six months later.”

Her top tips to help people get through Dry January are to remember why they are doing it, work out their triggers for wanting a drink, think of other ways to “treat” themselves, other than turning to alcohol, and to seek the support of a friend or partner.

The Try Dry app features other advice for Dry January and helps track an individual’s drinking, calories and units, all year round.