Over 7000 Kiwis sign up to go sober as Covid-19 prompts 'Dry-ish' July rebrand

More than 7000 Kiwis, and counting, have pledged to go sober this month for the annual Dry July.

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But experts are concerned the messaging endorses alcohol as a coping mechanism. Source: 1 NEWS

All funds raised this year will go to Kiwis impacted by cancer via three beneficiaries: Bowel Cancer New Zealand, Prostate Cancer Foundation NZ and Look Good Feel Better.

Already, nearly $400,000 has been raised.

This year’s campaign comes just weeks after the nationwide lockdown, during which 20 per cent of Kiwis said they drank more.

Dry July’s chief executive says the campaign’s timely.

“It gives people the opportunity to revisit their relationship with alcohol and we know it’s been a super challenging year for everyone and people's circumstances have changed in every way,” said Brett MacDonald.

Dry July normally encourages people to cut their alcohol consumption for the entire month. This year’s “Dry-ish July” allows people to do two or three weeks instead.

But there is concern the messaging, which pegs on Covid-19, misses the mark.

Alcohol Healthwatch says alcohol is not a coping mechanism.

“It’s a behaviour that once you start using alcohol to cope, things get worse,” said Dr Nicki Jackson.

But with Dry July’s post-campaign research showing 75 per cent of participants change their drinking habits long-term, Dr Jackson says a sober fortnight or month is a good place to start.

“Take stock, have a new outlook on drinking and realise when you go out on social occasions it doesn’t have to be about drinking,” she said.

Sign ups remain open all month.