Are you concerned about your own drinking habits? Perhaps you’re worried that a loved one is drinking too much. Either way, it can be difficult to know how to reduce alcohol consumption, especially if it’s a common occurrence for you in social situations. There are several health benefits of doing so though and with a few tips you’ll still be able to enjoy any events that you do go to.
Here, we offer some advice on how to reduce alcohol consumption safely and highlight what you can do if you need additional help and support for alcohol addiction.
Assessing Your Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol misuse is defined as drinking alcohol in a way that’s harmful to you or when you are dependent on it. The NHS advises that safe alcohol consumption for both men and women is under 14 units a week. One unit is classed as half a pint of low strength beer, a single shot of spirit, or a small glass of 12% wine.
Lots of people are unaware of how much alcohol they drink and the exact units in their drinks.
It is important to remember that everyone’s limits are different. This depends on your age, metabolism, weight, lifestyle and even whether you are on any medication. Some people may also be more prone to binge drinking and developing an alcohol use disorder.
This includes those with mental health concerns and those with a parent who suffered from alcoholism. Therefore, it is important to be aware of your own alcohol limits as well as any risk factors and the harmful effects of alcohol.
Setting Realistic Goals
If you do want to reduce your alcohol consumption, it’s important to set realistic goals. That way, you’ll be more likely to meet them and you might even exceed them. Here are some things to consider when setting goals.
- Keep your goals measurable – Whether you want a certain number of drink-free days in a week or want to give yourself a maximum number of drinks per day, writing down specific goals that can be measured and tracked can help you to stay on the right path.
- Write them down – Studies show that those who write their goals down are more likely to achieve them. You may even want to keep a note in your bag or even on your phone. This is a great place to count your drinks too and keep track of what you’ve consumed throughout the day or week.
- Identify your triggers – Perhaps you know that you’re more likely to drink after a stressful day or maybe you can’t say no at parties or social events. By taking the time to identify your triggers and drinking habits, you’ll be better prepared when they arise in the future.
If drinking has been a big part of your life, then cutting down or stopping can seem like a huge challenge. But one of the biggest motivations should be the link between alcohol and health. Those who drink within the recommended UK consumption guidelines are less likely to develop short-term and long-term health conditions. Remember why you started too and celebrate little milestones – whether you stuck to your weekly drink count or simply said no.
If you are struggling to stay motivated, take it step by step. Remember your goals, count your drinks, pace yourself and space out alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic beverages. This can all help you to get through the social event or evening, and you’ll be another day closer to your end goal.
Healthy Alternatives to Binge Drinking Alcohol
As mentioned above, drinking non-alcoholic drinks or even low-alcoholic drinks can be a great way to keep you on track. Plus, there are plenty of delicious mocktails out there that can help you to feel part of a bigger crowd. Another way to cut down your drinking, and enjoy it, is to look for activities that can be done instead of drinking.
It’s okay to avoid parties and social gatherings if you think it will trigger unhealthy behaviours. Just be honest with yourself and others. Instead, you could ask a friend or family member to go for a walk or to the cinema. You could try an exercise class, spa day or even go for a coffee. There are plenty of fun things to do that don’t involve alcohol, and you’ll be another day alcohol-free for it.
Building a Support System
Reaching out to friends and family can help you to stay motivated and build an essential support system to keep you on the right track. You don’t even need to tell everyone – simply a few close people who you trust. They may even cut down their alcohol intake to support you further. It’s important that you tell them about your goals, any triggers and when you’re struggling. Reframing drinking in a way that’s similar to other health behaviours you want to change, such as eating better, and telling people, can normalise the change.
It may be that you want additional support for your alcohol consumption and that’s where a GP or professional counsellor comes in. There are also lots of local support groups including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) which can help. These are both great ways to learn more about safe drinking habits as well as healthy alternatives to drinking and ways for reducing alcohol cravings.
The internet has also opened up a new level of support with online alcohol support groups and medical professionals providing virtual support. This means that you can now access advice from wherever and whenever you are.
Coping with Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Those individuals who are suffering from alcoholism may experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they try to cut down on alcohol. This is because the body and brain have developed a dependence towards it.
While completely normal, these side effects can become very challenging. They may start off as cold and flu-like symptoms, shaking and sweating and can become more serious with hallucinations and seizures. In these instances, it may be safer to go to alcohol rehab where a medically-assisted detox is provided.
Even if you’re not experiencing withdrawal symptoms, you may still experience cravings after quitting alcohol. If this is the case, enjoying another non-alcoholic drink can help as can regular exercise. Speaking to a GP or counsellor can also help you to remain in a positive mindset. Remind yourself that you will get through the cravings and that they will pass. It’s also important to keep yourself preoccupied if you do begin to crave alcohol.
If you want to know more about alcohol reduction tips or maybe even want to speak to a professional about overcoming addiction to alcohol, the team at Addiction Advocates is always here. Our dedicated helpline can get you the help you need and even begin the admissions process to a specialist alcohol and mental health rehabilitation centre if required.
Reducing your alcohol intake can lead to a new lease on life and improved health. So, why not take the first step towards managing your alcohol consumption today – we promise you won’t look back.
-  14 units a week. One unit is classed as half a pint of low strength beer, a single shot of spirit, or a small glass of 12% wine - https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/drink-less/
-  risk factors and the harmful effects of alcohol - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/delivering-better-oral-health-an-evidence-based-toolkit-for-prevention/chapter-12-alcohol
-  things to consider when setting goals - https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-advice/tips-on-cutting-down-alcohol/