You do not necessarily need to go teetotal to feel the benefits of drinking less.
Even just setting and sticking to a few drink-free days a week, or swapping to lower-strength drinks, are great steps in the right direction.
Here are some practical things you can try to help you cut back.
1. Have a game plan
Use the Drink Free Days app to set yourself a weekly unit target and stick to it. But if one week you do go over your limit, don’t stop trying – next week is a fresh start.
2. Switch from stronger stuff
Choose drinks that that are lower in alcohol. Try lighter beers – under 4% ABV. As a rule of thumb, white and rosé wines are lower in strength than reds. Or try swapping some or all of your drinks for no or low-alcohol alternatives.
3. Stick with it!
It might take a bit of time to get used to the change from your usual choices, so if you notice a difference in taste with lower-strength drinks, do not give up! There are so many options, it’s likely there’s one out there for you – and switching means you can enjoy the health benefits of drinking less without losing your social life.
4. Shake up your social plans
Going for drinks is not the only way to see friends. You could watch a film, meet up for breakfast, grab a coffee and go for a walk, go bowling, head to the gym or sign up for a class to do together, for instance.
5. Set a booze budget
Sticking to a budgeted amount for alcohol can be a good way to drink less. If you are going out, try taking only the exact cash, or set up a spending alert on your card.
6. Write off the rounds
Being involved in rounds makes it easy to end up drinking more than you meant. Try to avoid them if you can, and do not feel like you have to say yes to a drink just because someone else is buying. There’s always next time.
7. Only wine and dine
Waiting for your evening meal before you have a drink – and having your first only once you’ve started eating – is another simple way to help you cut down.
8. Beat boredom
If a drink is a way you handle boredom or stress, try finding something else to do instead. Exercise is a great stress reliever, and simple things like cleaning, a new hobby or DIY can be a good way to occupy mind and body.
It’s recommended to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across 3 days or more. That’s around 6 medium (175ml) glasses of wine, or 6 pints of 4% beer.
There’s no completely safe level of drinking, but sticking within these guidelines lowers your risk of harming your health. Try using Alcohol Change UK’s unit calculator to work out how many units you drink.
The benefits of drinking less
You too could feel the difference! Many people who reduce their alcohol intake notice benefits, which can include those below.
- feeling better in the mornings
- being less tired and more energetic
- better-looking skin
- saving some money
- lower blood pressure
- lower risk of stroke, hypertension, cancer and liver disease
- lower cholesterol levels
- better mood, memory and quality of sleep
- help with weight management