Giving up alcohol for a month in February helped people save money, lose weight, feel healthier and sleep better.
Those are some of the findings of an online survey by the New Zealand Drug Foundation of 135people who took part in FebFast.
Ross Bell, Executive Director with the New Zealand Drug Foundation, says 87 percent of participants who took part in the survey had a positive experience of FebFast, 64 percent planned to go alcohol-free again next February, and 97 percent said they would recommend doing FebFast to a friend or family member.
"This is a fantastic result," he says. "While FebFast is about raising money to support alcohol and drug community organisations doing worthwhile work with young people, it's also about people taking time out to reflect on their own drinking. It's great to see participants have found it a good thing to be involved with and have received some personal benefit from taking part."
FebFasters raised money this year for four charities working with young people affected by drugs or alcohol, by being sponsored to go alcohol-free for the month of February. The four charities to receive FebFast funds are Evolve (Wellington), Rainbow Youth (Auckland), CareNZ (Waikato), and the ADHD Association (national).
Ross Bell says 76 percent of survey respondents reported they had saved money by taking part in FebFast, 62 percent felt healthier, 50 percent lost weight, and 45 percent slept better. Most participants (85 percent) said they planned to drink alcohol less often following their FebFast experience, and 75 percent said they would cut back on the amount they drink.
"A number of people have obviously decided to make some healthy changes in their lives as a result of taking part in FebFast," says Mr Bell.
"FebFast isn't about giving up alcohol forever, but it's heartening to see people thinking about alcohol more and making some decisions about when and where to drink. For many people it's no longer a case of automatically having a few drinks on a Friday night or at dinner during the week."
Comments from participants included:
� "FebFast was a real eye opener as to how much alcohol had pretty much become a part of day to day life."
� "FebFast has made me feel different about alcohol in a positive way, I lost 4 kgs and I feel great."
� "I may now see if I can stop drinking for another month?a whole 31 days."
� "It was good to do - was surprised at how ingrained having a Friday night drink to relax after work was."
� "This has to be one of the best things I have participated in."
� "The hardest part was not stopping myself from drinking but explaining to others why I wasn't drinking. They assumed I had a drinking problem rather than was just choosing not to drink."
� "As much as I struggled this year, I was just completely proud of myself for completing and sticking to the full month of sobriety."
� "FebFast has trickle down effects - today I found out that a family member (who said they would/could not) do FebFast (and who is the reason I do it) is giving up drinking during the week! I'm so happy?"
Most people who took part in FebFast were female (73 percent) and the average age of participants was 42. Nearly two thirds (64 percent) said it was the second year in a row they had taken part in FebFast.
Nearly half of the survey respondents found it easy to stop drinking alcohol during FebFast, but 34 percent found it hard. More than half, 59 percent, said they missed drinking alcohol.
The next FebFast will be held in February 2013.
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