It is widely known that drinking excessively can lead to both physical and emotional problems. It can affect your health, your family life, and perhaps even your work. If you think you may be drinking more than you should, you probably are and cutting back now can reduce the risk of problems down the road. There are a vast number of ways to reduce your alcohol consumption and not all of them work for everyone. Since everyone is different, find the tips that work best for you and stick with them. It may not happen overnight, but cutting back on your drinking by even a small amount can make a big difference. Whatever your reasons for deciding to drink less, both your body and your bank account will thank you.
- Establish a Goal. As with any new challenge, the first step is setting achievable goals. Ask yourself why you want to drink less. Write down your reasons and thoughts, how much you drink now, and how much you’d like to cut back. Whether you simply want to slow down or to stop drinking completely, writing down your reasons and expectations will help clarify them in your mind.
- Start Right Now. While it is possible to choose a day to begin, often it will end up being like that diet that never gets started. If you say you’ll start Tuesday, when Tuesday rolls around and you had a bad day at work it will get put off until “tomorrow.” Start the same day you make the decision to start drinking less.
- Count your Drinks. Very often, you don’t realize how many drinks you’ve had, particularly after the first few. Make an effort to record how many drinks you’ve had. Use the memo feature on a phone, a piece of paper that you keep in your pocket, whatever it takes. It’s often surprising when you see how many you’ve actually had.
- Measure your Drinks. While you are counting your drinks, be sure that you know what a “standard” drink is. If you drink beer, stick to 12 ounce cans. Switching to larger cans and drinking a few less is the same as not cutting back at all. The same goes for mixed drinks. A 16 ounce glass of gin and tonic isn’t a standard drink.
- Pace yourself when you Drink. For some who are trying to drink less, setting themselves a limit of one drink an hour (or whatever time span you like) can be helpful. In this way, not only do they drink less, they will often make a single drink last longer. Those who drink quickly, especially for the first few, are more likely to overindulge.
- Use Drink Spacers. Drink a non-alcoholic drink in between each drink that contains alcohol. Alternate between an alcoholic beverage and another type of drink such as soda, juice, or water and it can help to moderate your intake of alcohol. In addition to reducing your alcohol consumption, plenty of water is always a good idea when drinking alcohol.
- Make sure you Eat Properly. Whether you are trying to cut back or not, drinking with an empty stomach is never a good idea. For many drinkers however, having a full stomach results in less alcohol consumption. Very salty snacks such as popcorn or chips will just make you thirsty and you end up drinking more.
- Avoid Trigger Situations. Whether you want to stop completely, or just cut down, avoid situations where you tend to drink too much until you are confident in your ability to stop yourself. That doesn’t mean that you can’t go out with friends who drink, just make sure that you are able to say “I’m at my limit.”
- Get Support. Tell some trusted friends or family members what you are doing and enlist their support. Be honest with them and those who are truly supportive will be happy to help. If necessary, join a support group, either online or in person. There are numerous self-help support groups online and they are full of people who know exactly what you are going through.
- Take Baby Steps. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, but take it one step at a time. Something as simple as choosing on day each week that you won’t drink is a worthwhile goal. Once going a single day without alcohol becomes easier, you can extend it to two days, etc. Anything less than you are drinking right now is an achievement that you should be proud of.
Don’t Give UP!
If you have a day when you exceed the limits you’ve set for yourself, don’t let it discourage you. Keep in mind the goals that you’ve set and the reasons you set them and get back on track the next day. You CAN succeed if you stick with it. When you stumble, turn to your support group for encouragement. As long as you keep trying, you are succeeding.