How to reduce your alcohol intake
If you are regularly (most days of the week) drinking more than your recommended maximum daily alcohol intake – three to four units for men and two to three units for women – then it’s probably time to cut down.
How to cut down how much alcohol you drink
However, for some people, reducing your alcohol intake can be easier said than done. These tips will help you to achieve your goal.
Make a plan
The key to success is to make a plan to reduce your alcohol intake – and to stick to it. You need to have clear, specific objectives and, to help you achieve them, you should tell your family and friends so that they can help to keep you on track and give you the support you are going to need. Don’t try to do too much too soon; cutting back a little each day is more likely to prove effective than trying to cut down drastically in one go.
Strategies on your night out
When you go out, it's useful to have strategies in place to help you keep to your plan.
These could include:
- Restrict your budget – before heading out, decide how much you want to spend (bearing in mind you want to restrict your drinking) and only take that amount with you. It’s a good idea to take cash only, so that you aren’t tempted to go beyond your budget
- Pace yourself – restrict yourself to no more than one standard drink per hour. It’s also an excellent idea to use non-alcoholic spacers; that is, you should alternate each alcoholic drink with a soft drink
- Keep track – to ensure that you don’t go over the limit you have set yourself, it's important to keep track of every drink you take. If you are drinking with company, don’t let them top up your glass, as this will make it impossible for you to have an accurate record
- Avoid rounds – when drinking with friends, it seems almost inevitable that everyone buys a round. This tends to lead to faster drinking and more drinks
- Learn to say "no" when you’ve had enough
- Never drink on an empty stomach
- Choose drinks with lower alcohol content
Try to avoid drinking
To help cut down your drinking further, you could also:
- Include non-drinking days in your week
- Avoid triggers that lead you to drink – stay away from bars and avoid friends you know will encourage you to join in drinking sessions
- Find alternatives – if you want a night out, try the cinema or take up a hobby that will help use the spare time that you would otherwise spend drinking
- At home – people who drink at home often use larger measures so consider buying smaller glasses. You should also replace the alcohol in your fridge with soft drinks
Extra encouragement for you to stop drinking
If you need a little extra encouragement, it’s worth considering that reduced alcohol intake will reduce your calorie intake, reduce your risk of alcohol-related illness (cancer, diabetes, heart disease) and let you get better quality sleep without those hangovers. Alcohol is a depressant so you’ll also be able to look forward to reduced stress levels and better moods.