10 Tips To Help Cut Back on Drinking
For some, drinking alcohol can feel similar to a toxic relationship. Some nights, it seems innocent, lighthearted, and fun. Other days, you’re noticing things that signal you’re spending too much time together, and it starts feeling like a bit too much. Then you start to feel a negative influence on your life.
You may question continuing the relationship altogether or take a step back to evaluate. With drinking and some relationships, too much of a good thing can be too much.
Do you decide to take a break for a few months or taper the time together? Maybe it’s time to cut it off completely.
If you’re reading this, you or a loved one may be contemplating cutting back on alcohol consumption. Is it time to break up with alcohol? Or do you just need to cut back on your drinking?
How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?
Drinking is socially acceptable, and let’s face it — many social activities revolve around drinking. Many people drink in social settings or at home on their couches. With alcohol consumption all around us, it can be hard to know how much is too much.
Guidelines advise that men’s alcohol intake should consist of two standard drinks or less per day or no more than 14 drinks per week. For women, alcohol consumption guidelines are half that — setting the number of drinks at one drink or less per day, topping out at seven drinks per week.
Reasons To Cut Back on Drinking
With guidelines for alcohol consumption aside, sometimes deciding to cut back on the amount of alcohol you drink comes down to how it’s impacting your life. Many people are feeling sober curious these days! Everyone has different reasons for cutting back on alcohol.
Too much alcohol can cause health problems, including putting you at risk for high blood pressure. It can affect family members' relationships and worsen existing mental health problems.
Perhaps your healthcare provider gave you a health survey at your annual visit that made you ponder your drinking habits. Or maybe you’ve noticed cravings are starting every evening for a cold beer. Sometimes it comes down to a family intervention.
No matter your reasons, having a plan and a strategy in place can set you up for success. Let’s dive into 10 tips to cut down on drinking.
Tips for Cutting Back on Drinking
1. Set Realistic Goals
Whether your goal is to cut back or stop drinking altogether, the first thing you should do is set realistic goals. Goals will vary for each person, depending on your relationship with alcohol.
A realistic goal could be anything from limiting yourself to one drink when you go out to drinking on weekends only — just watch out for binge drinking behavior. Only you know your current drinking level and what a realistic goal looks like for you. Once you’ve set your goal, studies show that writing down goals makes you 42 percent more likely to achieve them.
2. Use an App for Support
Sometimes, a little support puts us in the right frame of mind to achieve our goals. Quitting or cutting back from drinking is no different. You don’t need to want to stop drinking to join a support group.
Some people join groups like alcoholics anonymous to head things off before they develop a serious alcohol use disorder. There’s a wide spectrum of substance abuse and alcohol dependence.
An alternative to traditional AA is joining a supportive community through an app, such as Sober Sidekick. Sober Sidekick offers a lot of support; all wrapped up into one app.
It’s a quick download on Apple and Android, and it offers the following:
24/7 AA Meetings
Professional Help, if You Need It
Going sober or just cutting back on alcohol can be a little easier — or a lot easier — when you have a community of more than 150,000 behind you. If you’re the type of person who thrives on accountability, check out the Sobrer Sidekick app, and know you’re not alone in your journey.
3. Eat Before or During Drinking
Eating before you drink helps because it slows down how fast alcohol hits your bloodstream. Having a snack or full meal before you go out also helps to signal that your body is full. If you go out hungry, on an empty stomach, it’s easy to drink your dinner.
Ordering appetizers and noshing on finger foods during a night out with a few drinks can also help you cut back on drinking.
4. Pace Yourself
If you’re out drinking with friends or at home alone, slowing your pace is a good strategy for cutting back on drinking. This can be achieved by tracking how long it takes you to finish a drink. Mindful drinking helps you to consume less alcohol.
Another tactic that can steer you away from heavy drinking is alternating alcoholic drinks with a glass of water or other non-alcoholic beverage.
5. Try Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Zero-alcohol drinks have been trending for a while, giving the taste of alcohol without the hangover the next day. Alcohol-free drinks contain less than 0.5 percent of alcohol by volume. Zero-proof alcohol and mixers are all about the experience and taste without the hangover.
One tactic heavy drinkers use when trying to cut back on alcohol is doing alcohol-free days. Try a mocktail on these days for this approach.
6. Make Mocktails
If you miss having a glass of wine in your hand at night, consider switching to a mocktail. Break out the nice glasses, get some fancy ice cubes, and create a fizzy concoction. Mocktails are non-alcoholic beverages with recipes that go far beyond basic seltzer.
One tactic for using mocktails is to have one glass of wine and then switch to a mocktail.
7. Start a Hobby
Some people drink out of boredom and don’t even realize it. Maybe your mind is not stimulated, or maybe you need to be more active. Or both. Whatever the case, cutting back on an unhealthy habit is a great time to start a new hobby.
Start reading, take an online course, or join a gym. A really inexpensive to get more active is to start a walking routine.
8. Fire Your Friends
If you’re serious about cutting back on drinking and have a friend group that can only have fun while drinking, you may have to fire your friends — or at least some of them — for a while.
If your social circle drinks heavily every time they get together, you may hang out with a crowd with an alcohol problem. Decide if you can socialize with them, and stick to your goal of reducing drinking. If the answer is no, consider hanging out with them less or tell them your goal to cut back on drinking — and hold yourself accountable.
9. Use Smaller Glasses
Large glasses encourage large pours of alcohol. If you’re used to heavy drinking, you will likely finish the glass, no matter the size. One strategy to cut back on drinking is to use smaller glasses.
If you’re home, pour a third of what you normally would, and you can slowly adjust. If you’re out, order the smallest size. You’ll get used to small changes, and they can add up to creating better habits.
Bring your own beverage to social gatherings, such as parties. If you show up to an evening cookout, and the only beverages in sight are ice-cold beers, you may find yourself in a difficult situation, making it hard to stick to your goal.
One helpful strategy is to come equipped with a non-alcoholic beverage or, better yet, a stocked cooler! Iced tea, seltzer, or non-alcoholic beer are options. If you prepare for situations and have a strategy, you’ll set yourself up for success.
Even if you decide to have one beer, you’ll have a stash of drinks to keep you on track for the rest of the night.
If you’re trying to cut back on drinking alcohol, a good place to start is to review recommended guidelines for drinking. From there, set a realistic goal and review the tips for cutting back on drinking. Try implementing a few tips that work with your personality and lifestyle.
Whether your endgame is to reduce alcohol intake or to eventually cut out alcohol completely, check out the Sober Sidekick app for a little extra support.
What are the U.S. Guidelines for Drinking? | NIH.Gov
This Is the Way You Need to Write Down Your Goals for Faster Success | Inc.