How to Reduce Your Alcohol Consumption
There are all sorts of reasons you might be looking to cut down drinking. You might be trying to lose weight. Perhaps you’re sick of feeling groggy the morning after drinking. Or maybe you’re trying to take better care of your mental health.
Reducing alcohol consumption provides plenty of benefits, and with a little planning and preparation, you might be surprised by just how easy it can be.
It's also good to know that you're not alone in looking to reduce alcohol intake. According to a study by the charity Drinkaware, over a third of people are planning to cut down the amount of alcohol they drink. Out of the eight million people who took part in Dry January this year, almost half (48%) said they want to cut back on booze for the long run.
If you’re looking to reduce alcohol consumption, the following eight tips can help.
8 TIPS TO HELP CUT DOWN YOUR DRINKING
1. Write down why you want to reduce alcohol consumption
If you want to reduce your alcohol consumption, a good starting point is to write a list of your personal reasons for cutting down drinking. By clearly identifying why you want to drink less, it’s easier to stay motivated.
Grab a pen and paper and simply list the honest, personal reasons you want to drink less. It could be things like:
- You want to lose weight or get physically fitter
- You want to sleep better at night
- You want to cut down your spending or save money
- You're beginning to suspect that alcohol is affecting your performance at work
- You’re worried that excessive drinking is putting a strain on your relationships
- You want to reduce the effect that alcohol consumption has upon your mood and mental health
The point of this exercise is that by listing your motivations to drink less alcohol, you might find it easier to stick with it.
2. Let people know that you're cutting down on alcohol
Sometimes the hardest thing about reducing alcohol consumption is telling other people that you're cutting back. There’s often a lot of social pressure to drink when you're with friends or family.
All the same, if you have a couple of ready-prepared phrases to explain why you’re cutting back, you may be surprised how quickly people will accept it and move on. You could tell people, for instance, that you're on a health kick or simply that you have an early start in the morning.
3. Learn about units of alcohol
You may well have heard that the NHS recommends not drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week. But let’s be honest – who really knows how many units are in the average drink? Still, by taking a little time to learn about units, it's a whole lot easier to monitor your drinking levels. The following table can give you a rough guide for units in beer:
|Alcohol By Volume||Bottle or Can (330 ml)||Pint (568 ml)|
First up, figure out roughly how many units you consume, how often you drink and where you do it. By understanding how many units of alcohol you are currently drinking, you can set yourself a realistic goal to aim towards, with a plan that helps you avoid the times and places where booze is tempting.
4. Drink smaller measures
If you’re a spirit drinker, swapping doubles for singles is an easy way to reduce your alcohol consumption that will also help you to save money.
If you’re a social beer drinker who meets friends at the pub two or three nights a week, you might find you’re drinking 10 pints of beer each week, which equates to around 25 units of alcohol. If this sounds like you, you could switch out pints and drink bottles of beer instead, which contain less liquid and therefore, fewer units of alcohol.
5. Book in alcohol-free days
One of the best tips for reducing alcohol consumption is to set aside a few days where you don't consume any alcohol. Alternating between drinking and not drinking throughout the week is one way to cut back or you could avoid drinking on weeknights entirely, which will be easier if you tend to do your socialising during the weekend. This will give you the opportunity to find new ways to unwind and decompress, whether that’s doing some exercise or taking a long bath.
If your social life tends to revolve around food and drink, try to meet in a less drinks focused setting, like a park or coffee shop. Or do something entirely different like going for a walk or visiting a museum. It might take some getting used to if you rarely stray from pubs and restaurants, but you might find that avoiding alcohol allows you to enjoy better conversations that you still remember the next day.
6. Drink lower alcohol alternatives
For many people, there’s nothing better than grabbing a cold beer from the fridge or opening a bottle of wine after a busy day. Drinking low or no alcohol alternatives is an absolute no-brainer if you want to moderate your drinking, but don’t want to give up your evening ritual. If you tend to reach for a bottle of lager, our Small Beer Lager is only 2.1% ABV, which means it contains just 0.7 units of alcohol per bottle.
In fact, our entire range of low ABV beers contain less than 1 unit of alcohol per bottle and they are expertly brewed with premium ingredients so you can still enjoy a full flavoured and refreshing drink. If you’re cutting back on alcohol to lose weight or get fitter, an added health benefit of lower alcohol alternatives is that they tend to be much lower in calories too.
Tired of pounding headaches? Read our guide to best hangover-free beers
7. Find alternatives when drinking socially
When having dinner with friends, meeting at the pub or attending a BBQ, it's easy to drink more than you might have planned. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to reduce alcohol intake in social situations:
- Before you head out, set yourself a limit and keep count of how much you’re drinking
- Ask for smaller servings - such as a can or bottle rather than a pint of beer - or a small glass of wine rather than a large one
- Make an effort to order drinks that contain fewer units: opt for lower alcohol beers or if the options are limited, ask for a shandy or a spritzer
- Avoid rounds and drink at your own pace
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks
8. Reach out if you're struggling
If you find you're struggling to reduce your alcohol intake despite trying your best to follow our tips on cutting down drinking, we strongly recommend that you reach out for professional help. Your GP will be able to recommend local alcohol support services, and there are plenty of organisations that can help:
- Drinkline is the UK’s national helpline for alcohol advice and support. Call them on 0300 123 1110.
- Alcoholics Anonymous is a free self-help group which is proven to help people get sober
- Drinkaware’s Drinkchat is a web based, confidential chat service and We Are With You is another organisation that offers something similar.