BORO legend Neil ‘Maddo’ Maddison is giving booze the boot – and he’s urging others to join him on the wagon.

The former Boro star and BBC expert summariser is challenging people in the town to make a resolution to ditch the drink for the 31 days of January.

Working alongside Middlesbrough Council’s Improving Public Health Service and Balance, the North East Alcohol office, he’s hoping people will take a break for the booze and enjoy the health, and financial benefits of going alcohol-free.

And to raise awareness of Dry January, Neil called in at the Riverside Stadium for the launch of Alcohol Awareness Week from Monday, November 14 to Sunday, November 20.

Neil said: “Taking a break from alcohol for the 31 days of Dry January can help you in many ways including weight loss, better sleep, more energy and clearer skin and it helps to reduce the risk of developing health problems.

“It is also a great opportunity to save a few quid.”

To help kick-start the campaign drinkers are encouraged to think about cutting their level of alcohol consumption, moderate their drinking over the festive period and then ditch it altogether for the 31 days of January.

The UK Chief Medical Officers guidelines say that both men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level.

Drinkers should have several drink-free days each week as this will help to cut down the amount they drink, and for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all to keep risks to their baby to a minimum.

Sue Taylor, Partnerships Manager at Balance, said: “At a time when we’ve all overdone it a bit at Christmas and we’re looking to start a fresh in the New Year, Dry January is the perfect way to take some time out from alcohol and feel better all round.

“Alcohol can make us more tired, anxious and less energised. Drinking above the recommended guidelines also puts us at more risk from around 60 different medical conditions, including at least seven different types of cancer.

“Whatever your motivation for taking part, a break from the drink for even just one month can have positive effects on our health, and, for many people, joining in Dry January encourages them to reassess their drinking habits and make positive long-term changes.

“As this years’ campaign shows, Dry January is also a great opportunity to get out and about with your friends and family, and see all the fantastic places Middlesbrough and the wider region has to offer.

“We’ll be providing people with lots of tips and ideas in the run up and throughout January and we want to hear your own ideas for great ways to spend a hangover free month.”

Councillor Mick Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Communities and Public Health, said: “Alcohol abuse is a real concern as it can have long-lasting health, social and financial impacts on individuals, families and communities.

“It is a cause of premature death and preventable illness.

“Promoting sensible drinking is of paramount importance if we are to address the social and health issues linked to excessive alcohol consumption, which is why we are encouraging people to drink sensibly and take a break from alcohol during Dry January.”

To sign up to Dry January, find out more about the campaign and to access a wealth of support and advice, visit the Dry January website at www.dryjanuary.org.uk