Many people in the UK enjoy a social drink from time to time or enjoy a small amount in the evening with food or while watching TV. Yet drinking too much alcohol or drinking too often increases your risk of developing an alcohol-related injury or disease and most obviously, alcohol addiction.
You may be thinking it’s time to take control of your drinking, prepare yourself for a detox, want to become sober or even just to reduce your alcohol intake, whatever the reason, following the tips and techniques below will help you to successfully achieve your goals.
People who fear they may be drinking too much should avoid buying rounds in the pub and keep a diary to record their weekly alcohol intake, provides an accurate starting point for a detox or track your reduction progress and keep you on schedule for your future reduction.
More than one in 20 people in England are “problem drinkers” – regularly drinking more than the recommended amount, binge-drinking at the weekend or drinking to prevent withdrawal symptoms, according to the Health Education Authority and Alcohol Concern.
Here are some mini tips to help you cut down on alcohol.
- Keep track of your drinking habits.Instead of relying on memory, jot down your drinks in a diary to see exactly how much and how often you drink.
- Change your drinking habits. Control the amount of alcohol you drink by setting some goals, such as not drinking alone or when stressed. Schedule at least two alcohol-free days each week.
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach. A full stomach slows the absorption of alcohol.
- Quench your thirst with water or soft drinks. Otherwise, you risk gulping down alcoholic drinks.
- Sip your drink slowly. Put down the glass after each mouthful.
- Take a break. Make every second drink a non-alcoholic beverage.
- Buy low-alcohol alternatives. Options include light beer and reduced alcohol wine.
- Opt out of ‘shouts’. Drink at your own pace. If you can’t avoid buying a shout, get yourself a non-alcoholic drink.
- Avoid salty snacks, such as potato chips or peanuts. Salt makes you thirsty and more inclined to drink fast.
- Do something other than drink. Hit the dance floor or play a game of pool. You’re less likely to drink out of boredom if you’re busy having fun.
Things To Consider When Cutting Back on Your Drinking
Have you been thinking about cutting back on the amount of alcohol you drink? Maybe you have experienced some negative health effects because of your drinking.
If the amount of alcohol that you have been drinking exceeds recommended guidelines and puts you at risk for developing alcohol-related problems or you are already addicted to alcohol and are physically dependent on it, you may want to try cutting down or stopping completely over a safe period.
Tips To Cut Back
If you are currently drinking more than the recommended guidelines any change that you make, even small changes, will help you reduce the harm that alcohol can cause and minimise the damage that’s already been done from chronic alcohol consumption. The less you drink, the lower your risk of developing or worsening problems that you may already have. It’s called harm reduction.
Your goal is to improve your health and your life by reducing the dangerous effects of alcohol and the damage it causes to your physical and mental wellbeing.
Set Realistic Goals
Write down how many drinks you want to drink per day. Writing down your goals can help remind you that you want to limit your drinking and reduce your alcohol intake.
Count Your Drinks
Recording how many drinks you have may also help you reduce or slow down your drinking.
You can use a handwritten note that you keep in your wallet or record your drinks on your smartphone or tablet, whatever is more convenient for you.
Measure Your Drinks
If you are going to count how many drinks you have and how many you want to reduce by, make sure you are accurate.
Learn what counts as a standard drink so that you can accurately measure how many you have had. Stick to your goal even when you are away from home, dining out or in a bar ect.
You could use a measuring jug or buy a special measuring device to calculate your alcohol units more accurately.
Some drinkers trying to cut down have been successful by pacing their drinking. That is, they sip their drinks slowly or make sure they have only one drink per hour.
People who consume drinks quickly, particularly the first few drinks, are at greater risk of developing alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence.
Space Your Drinks
Another trick for cutting down alcohol consumption is to use drink spacers—nonalcoholic beverages between drinks containing alcohol. No matter how much you drink, it’s always a good idea to drink plenty of water along with your alcoholic beverages.
Some drinkers will alternate a drink of water, juice, or soda between their alcoholic beverages to slow down their consumption.
Don’t Forget To Eat
For some drinkers, eating food will reduce their cravings for alcohol. This is not true for all drinkers but if eating something reduces your craving for a drink, make sure you eat a meal at times when you usually drink might help you reduce the amount you drink. Of course, it is not wise for anyone to drink on an empty stomach.
Avoid Your Triggers
Whether you are trying to cut down or quit drinking altogether, it is a good idea to avoid situations in which you are used to drinking. People, places, things and certain activities can be triggers that cause you to have an urge/craving to drink.
Avoiding these triggers can prevent you from drinking when you otherwise might not do so. Remember, your health and recovery is at stake!
You can learn more about triggers, how to recognise them and overcome them here in our previous article.
You can also learn to avoid urges, cravings and temptations and learn to urge surf here. A technique used to ride out cravings, urges and temptations without returning to drugs or alcohol.
Do Something Else
If drinking has become a dominating part of your life, try substituting other activities during those times when you might usually drink. Take up a hobby, begin an exercise program, make new friends or spend more time with your family and friends. Find something that you enjoy that will occupy the time during which you would usually be drinking.
Learn How To Say ‘No’
Chances are you are going to be in situations in which someone is going to offer you a drink or expect you to drink with them as you have done in the past. Learn how to politely say “no thank you,” and really mean it. Say it quickly and firmly so that you don’t give yourself time to change your mind.
You can find 60 ways of saying no in our previous article here.
You may want to practice what you will say the next time your friends ask you to have a drink.
What If You Can’t Cut Down?
If you find that you cannot cut down, you may have already developed an alcohol use disorder and are already physically and mentally dependent on alcohol. You may need to try quitting drinking altogether or seek out professional help from charities, groups and organisations on our help and support page here.
Things To Consider Including In Your Drug & Alcohol diary
- At what time(s) did you drink?
- How many drinks you had in total over the 24 hour period.
- What type(s) of alcohol was it?
- What strength is it?
- Where shouts were you when you drank? Indoors, at a pub or bar or someone else’s house ect.
- Did you drink alone or with other people?
- What were the reasons, feelings, thoughts or cravings that you experienced, which led you to drink?
- Were any other drugs or substances used as well?
- How did it make you feel after you drank?
- Your reduction goals, when will your alcohol reduction go down next?
Use Our Free Downloadable Alcohol Wheel
You can download our free alcohol wheel which will help you work out exactly how many units you’re drinking. You can find it here.Help and support page
You can find a list of charities, groups and organisations on our help and support page here.
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