Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 16.07.56A BORO legend is giving booze the boot for a month – and he’s urging others to follow suit.

Neil ‘Maddo’ Maddison will be kicking the drink into touch as part of the annual Dry January health drive.

And he’s getting the ball rolling ahead of this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week later this month to give as many people as possible the chance to make a similar pledge.

Middlesbrough Council, in partnership with Balance, the North East Alcohol office, is challenging people in the town to make a resolution to ditch the drink for 31 days.

This year’s theme is ‘Kick start the new you’ – and Neil will be launching the challenge at the Riverside on Tuesday (November 9).

Neil – now best known as BBC Tees’ Boro expert summariser alongside Ali Brownlee – is working with Middlesbrough Council’s Improving Public Health Service to raise the campaign’s profile.

He said: “Many of us enjoy a drink, but like everything in life moderation is the key.

“Dry January’s a great opportunity to take a break, relegate the booze to the subs’ bench and enjoy the health benefits.

“I’m going to give it a go and I hope as many people as possible will join me.”

National Alcohol Awareness Week – from November 16 to 20 – encourages drinkers to think about cutting their level of alcohol consumption and even ditch it altogether for the 31 days of January.

Dry January – now in its fourth year – challenges people to put the excesses of the festive period behind them and adopt a fresh, healthy start to the new year. 

Benefits of a month off the booze include weight loss, better sleep, more energy, clearer skin and a few more pennies in the pocket, as well as reducing the risk of developing health problems.

Last year more than two million people cut down their drinking for January, and organisers are hoping to improve on that figure this year.

Edward Kunonga, Middlesbrough Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “In Middlesbrough there is a real need to encourage people to change unhealthy drinking behaviours, drink in moderation and take time out to let the body recover.

“Alcohol-related harm has a significant impact on individuals, families and communities, and contributes to premature deaths, preventable illness and avoidable demands on services.

“Dry January is a great opportunity to break the cycle, and make some really positive lifestyle changes.”

Mary Edwards, Programme Manager Alcohol Treatment at Balance, said: “New Year is the natural time to take stock of our health and make a fresh start, and accepting the Dry January challenge is the perfect way to commit to taking a break from alcohol.

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“Drinking more than the recommended limits can have serious long-term implications for health, with proven links to seven types of cancer, plus conditions including liver disease, anxiety, stomach ulcers, raised blood pressure, strokes and dementia.

“Studies have shown that even just one month without alcohol can have positive effects on health, meaning there are real benefits to taking part.”

Councillor Mick Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Communities and Public Health, said: “Having a drink is an enjoyable and sociable part of a great many people’s lives.

“However the trend for excess consumption is a major concern for the Council, the police and the health services.

“Promoting sensible drinking is of paramount importance if we are to address the social and health issues linked to excessive alcohol consumption.”

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.