As I write, I am halfway through Dry January. Fifteen long evenings have passed, another fifteen lie ahead. There is no mid-game break here, no change of ends, no time to recharge. I don’t regard myself as anything like alcohol-dependent but I can’t even contemplate a traditional half-time orange segment without imagining it bobbing around with the ice cubes in a mind-altering Negroni.

Clearly my drinking habit, mostly in moderation (ahem!) and in company, had become sufficiently ingrained for a relatively short alcohol-free regime to present a real challenge and, therefore, to be long-overdue.

The current safe maximum for weekly alcohol consumption is now 14 units for both men and women, equivalent to six pints of beer or seven glasses of wine. In black and white, this advice is quite alarming as I can sometimes mistake it for a daily limit. Easily done in these testing times.

Surely, in that case, consuming no units at all for a whole month must be like a shot of ambrosia? But do I feel better for complete abstinence, other than experiencing some pride (and no little surprise) in having made it this far? Frankly, no. Hopefully, just not yet.

Of course, this month provides other reasons not to be on top form – credit card bills, grey weather, relentless advertising for diets and, unavoidably, the realisation that the scourge of Brexit can still, and undoubtedly will, worsen.

Also, I am a newcomer to the immediate switch from new year to no beer having previously only tackled the less trumpeted dry February (no capital D here) which, of course, offers a 10% discount with three fewer days of suffering. I have always believed Dry January to be too much too soon. Maybe I was right but now I’m in too deep. Eek!

It helps that my wife is abstaining too. Our shared endeavour has given project January a constructive competitive edge as well as offering much-needed mutual support in the preprandial danger zone. We also took the precaution of spending New Year’s Day in a predominantly Muslim country although our hotel turned out to be a rather wet (damp certainly) corner of an otherwise dry Morocco.

What has significantly buoyed our efforts is the sense that, this year, Dry January has reached a tipping point. Feature articles and news items on the subject abound with one headline from a piece by Coco Khan in The Guardian hinting at the emergence of a herd mentality: “I’d resisted until now, but I’m doing Dry January.”

No longer, it appears, do temporary teetotallers have to skulk around for a month on the fringes of society, avoiding friends and apologising for their unreasonable, rather selfish behaviour.

Indeed, servicing this burgeoning consumer need has become big business. Alcohol-free beverages have been around for years but never, in my view, in particularly stylish clothes. Enter Seedlip, in three flavours, the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits, packaged, presented and priced like the top-end gin for which they offer an alternative. There is even a mind-preserving NOgroni among the many Seedlip cocktail recipes.

Add to this better quality 0.0% beer (I can recommend Bavaria Premium Original), intriguing new soft options like drinking vinegars (I haven’t ventured there yet!) and super-healthy bars such as London’s Redemption venues and the lot of the wagon rider is unrecognisable from years past.

It seems, then, that Dry January has been outed and has found its way into the mainstream with an estimated five million Brits taking part, according to a YouGov study. 31 days of temperance will not be for everyone, however, and let’s not ignore those clever people who possess the enviable self-discipline to drink sensibly all year round. Interestingly, also, nearly 30% of 16-24-year-olds claim to shun alcohol entirely.

For the entrenched boozers, this phenomenon will be perceived as more subliminal interference from the nanny state. They would certainly love a sign I saw outside a pub last week (The Fellow, near King’s Cross station) announcing its support for Dry January with Dry Gin, Dry Martini, Dry Wine and Dry Cider!

And this leads neatly, I guess, to the fundamental question about Dry January – does a month of avoiding alcohol do you any good? Naturally, views differ.

On the one hand, some experts warn that, for problem drinkers, abstaining for a month can be the perfect decoy to justify excessive alcohol consumption for the other 11 months of the year. In truth, regarded as a get out of jail free card, it may encourage binge-drinking.

Conversely, there is evidence that a month off alcohol, in healthy individuals, does deliver tangible, real time benefits – namely, weight loss, decrease in blood pressure and lower risk of diabetes. Dry January may also help with sleep patterns, digestion and energy levels.

Personally, I do hope that I will soon start to reap some rewards from Dry January and greet next month in better shape. Principally, however, this exercise is about who is the boss in my relationship with the grape and the grain. I am a relationship specialist after all! I felt I was losing the desired control of my drinking, fearing that the habit had rather taken over (not helped by the run-up to Christmas). A correction was called for.

Fortunately, Dr Gautam Mehta at the UCL Institute for Liver and Digestive Health provides some reassurance, referring to his recent research: “At six to eight months after Dry January, the proportion of participants drinking at harmful levels decreased by about 50%. It may be that participating in Dry January allows individuals to ‘reset’ their relationship with alcohol.”

And I have managed to raise a glass or two to Dry January. Most recently with a fellow traveller in this month of no alcohol. Two pints of lime and soda at the King’s Head in Crouch End. Total cost £2.80. My round!