MORE than 168,899 people in the North-East are expected to take part in Dry January 2018 to cut alcohol out of their lives for 31 days.

Around eight per cent of the region's population will be taking on the challenge in the New Year, with Balance, the North-East Alcohol Office, urging more people to get involved.

The campaign launches during one of the busiest times of year for the emergency services with alcohol-related injuries and violence.

Alcohol harm costs the region an estimated £1bn every year, including £209m to the NHS and £331m in crime and disorder costs, equating to around £386 for per person.

With recent findings showing more than one in four people in the North East are drinking above the low risk guidelines of 14 units a week for both men and women, Dry January encourages people to take a break which can give the body a chance to recover.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “Dry January can also stop drinking becoming too much of a regular thing – research shows three-quarters of people who complete the month are drinking at lower levels six months on.

“We’re encouraging people to get family, friends and colleagues on board too.

"It can be a real motivating factor taking on a challenge together and we know that it can make us more likely to succeed.”