Dry January is “not a fix-all solution” for problem drinking, according to one liver specialist.
Dr Mark Wright, a consultant in liver medicine at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said the month-long break from booze runs the risk of making “it seem like people have a grip on their drinking”.
Instead, people should be wary of their consumption year-round, he added.
Thousands of people each year challenge themselves to the “dry” month after the festive season, according to alcohol charity Alcohol Change UK.
A YouGov survey from December suggests that more than four million people are planning to do Dry January in 2019, according to the British Liver Trust.
Dr Wright believes a month away from drinking can have a “decoy” effect on alcohol consumption.
He said: “Giving up alcohol for dry January as some sort of detox is like maxing out your credit cards all year and thinking you can solve your financial problems by living like a hermit for a month.
“It just isn’t going to make things better if you then go back to your usual habits in February.
“The danger is that abstaining for a month can make it seem like people have a grip on their drinking, but, in fact, it can be the perfect decoy to justify drinking far too much in the festive season. It’s not a fix-all solution.
“What people need to do is be aware of their consumption all year round, aiming to stick to 14 units per week with three to four dry days.”