NewsCovering Colorado


Dry January: Economic and health impacts

Posted at 5:32 PM, Jan 16, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — January isn't just the start of a new year - it's also when some people commit to lay off booze for a month.

It's known as Dry January and we wanted to break down some of the health and economic impacts of this global challenge: tying in physical and mental benefits from cutting back on alcohol for a month, looking at why doing this, especially for Coloradans, is so important, and giving you a taste of what some local businesses deal with during Dry January.

Gregor Huesgen, owner of Downtown Fine Spirits & Wines, said, "January is in general for an industry like mine is a bit of a slow month."

The holiday buzz is over.

"It starts right straight up on the first day of January. New Year's Eve is the busy day and then the next day you collapse."

At liquor stores like his it's that time of the year when the usual throng of customers and revenue tends to dwindle.

"Our January is in general about the slowest month of the year, about 20 percent lower than like say a July."

But as far as an impact to the business Huesgen said, "It doesn't really. We plan for it...December's basically nearly double of January in sales."

While he may be the owner of a liquor store, when we asked him about his thoughts on Dry January he said, "If you are a very steady drinker it doesn't hurt to take a little break."

Huesgen's comment comes at a time when nationally binge drinking is becoming more common and alcohol-related deaths are on the rise.

Dr. Robin Johnson, medical director of El Paso County Public Health, said, "It really is something that has significant health effects...cardiovascular, neurologically, on your liver, your pancreas."

So think about participating in a "dry" or "dryish" January (as some say) for the medical benefits, both physical and mental.

Johnson said, "There is the calorie if you're trying to lose weight...when you're not drinking alcohol you actually have better sleep...the dry alcohol is mostly about just reassessing where are you spending your time, your money, and activities?"

With anything it's about moderation and these tips are things Johnson suggests people use beyond just January.

Johnson shared that nationally we're seeing a decreasing life expectancy which is partly driven by alcohol-related deaths and that El Paso County and Colorado are following these trends.

According to a 2018 study from 24/7 Wall Street Colorado ranks the 13th highest for alcohol-related driving deaths.