Beer-loving nation challenged to abstain from alcohol throughout February

Photo: Sharon Drummond, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The group League of Open Men has launched its eighth “Dry February” campaign to encourage Czechs, particularly men, to abstain from alcohol for the entire month. The event is to help people gain awareness of just how much they drink and whether they may not be in need of help.

Josef Petr, photo: archive of Josef Petr
February is not the most cheerful month of the year and making it booze-free does not make it any easier to get through the dark, rainy and sometimes gloomy days. However the League of Open Men, which came up with the challenge eight years ago, promises that the rewards will be worthwhile: higher energy levels, better sleep and better sex. But most important of all, it will help people realize just how much they drink and test their dependence on alcohol. Josef Petr who heads the League of Open Men explains:

“Every seventh person is ripe for a consultation with an expert on alcohol addiction. However many are unaware they have a problem or refuse to see it. The four week abstention period is just enough for them to realize how much they drink, how big a role alcohol plays in their life and test their dependency on it. It gives them a chance to change things while they are still in control.”

The “Dry February” campaign is largely focused on men, who drink on average at least three times as much as women. However a poll conducted by the Median agency shows that one in three people think that drinking a small amount of alcohol during pregnancy is OK.

According to the League of Open Men, last year about 6 percent of adults accepted the call to refrain from drinking during February. However a survey in the streets conducted by Czech Radio revealed scant enthusiasm for the campaign. Jan from Teplice had this to say:

“I am a beer lover and I don’t drink in excess. When I drink, I have two beers max. And I think that consumed in measure, beer is good medicine. I had to abstain for 9 months once on doctor’s orders and I respected that. But now when I want a beer, I have one.”

Photo: Sharon Drummond, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Michal from the town of Ústí nad Labem, says he too has only abstained for health reasons. He is also not a big fan of “Dry February”:

“I don’t really think that this campaign brings much benefit. I know a lot of people who observe “Dry February” and at the end of the month they go to the pub and get smashed to celebrate their victory. And for the remaining ten months they drink as much as before, on the argument that since they managed to abstain for a whole month they do not have a problem.”

The Czech Republic has one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption per capita worldwide. Health statistics suggest that almost 1 million Czechs are at risk of alcohol abuse, while associated costs exceed CZK 59 billion annually.