Nip a drinking problem in the bud
If you feel you have been drinking too much lately, or if a friend or family member has pointed it out to you, then there are many ways in which you can cut down. It is much better to nip a problem in the bud before it blossoms into something far worse. Why?
Drinking too much can not only lead down the path toward alcohol addiction but can also exacerbate other mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. This makes it important to be mindful of how much you drink.
How can you cut back on your drinking? Are there any steps you can take to quit alcohol? We outline the ways you can lower the amount and frequency of drinking and cover how it is beneficial for many different reasons. Then, we welcome your questions in the comments section at the end.
Why cut down on your drinking?
Dr Haitham Nadeem, Consultant Psychiatrist with Priory’s Manchester Wellbeing Centre, says:
“There is evidence from research and from clinical practice that those people who follow these tips and make such changes stand a very good chance of achieving the desirable outcome. We have to keep in my mind, however, that people’s motivation to change can vary with time and there will be days when our resolve is better than others, but the key to succeeding is by continuing to try regardless.”
The benefits of drinking less
Cutting down on alcohol can provide a general boost to your self esteem; alcohol is a depressant and can worsen any previous presentations of low mood and depression. It is evident that drinking less has an overwhelmingly positive effect on a person’s physical and mental well-being.
Other benefits of cutting down on drinking include:
- feeling physically and mentally fitter
- looking physically better
- saving money you may ordinarily spend on drinks
- aiding weight loss (alcohol is heavy in calories)
- feeling better about yourself
- seeing improvements in your sleep
- displaying better judgement
- reducing the risk of heart problems, immune system issues and many other health problems
- improving relationships
- improving work performance
- improving mental well-being
NOTE: In the case of an ongoing and persistent drinking problem it is unwise to suddenly stop drinking. The shock to your system can be severe, so it would be best to agree a proper detoxification plan with a medical professional.
5 ways to cut down on alcohol
When drinking becomes a problem it has many far-reaching consequences, so take a look at our 5 top tips for cutting down your drinking. While abstinence may not be for everyone, drinking in moderation or moderation management can help others. 5 ways to cut down include:
1. Make a plan and set limits
This can apply both to the amount you plan to drink and also the money you plan to spend on alcohol. You can also switch to lower strength drinks, be sure to check the ABV% (alcohol by volume), and switch to smaller measures such as bottles. Be strict with yourself and don’t go beyond your plan, self-discipline will have a positive influence on your life.
2. Explore other interests
Take up forgotten hobbies or activities such as playing an instrument, or get back into/start exercising as this is an excellent distraction from drinking. You can also plan these activities for times when you would usually drink. Directing your energies down a different avenue can distract you from drinking and also helps with your general happiness, causing you to feel more fulfilled by doing something you enjoy. It is important to recognize ‘high risk’ situations that previously triggered high alcohol intake and try to avoid them, so having additional avenues for your energies can help in this.
3. Inform your friends and family
By letting people know you are cutting back you can strengthen your support network and avoid falling into the ‘just one more drink’ trap when the people around you know not to ask you. This may also encourage others to join you in cutting down, improving the likelihood of success.
4. Eat a healthy meal
Drinking on an empty stomach causes alcohol to be absorbed quicker, worsening the effects, so be sure to eat prior to drinking. If the effects of alcohol work faster, then you’re more likely to make poor, impulsive decisions and drink more than you intended. Also, stay hydrated by alternating with water or soft drinks in between.
5. Take days off
Designate alcohol free days during the week and stick to them. Just a couple of days off in a row can help the body, and particularly the liver, recover. It may help to begin by making a ‘drink diary’ to see just how much you drink, and taking this forward to help choose which days you can take off. As well as tracking how much you drink, you can also begin to recognize your personal cues, such as loneliness and stress, and learn how to avoid turning to drink at these times.
Cutting down on alcohol questions
If you’d like to learn more or have any additional questions, please post them in the designated section below. We welcome your feedback and try to reply personally and promptly. In case we cannot answer your question, we will gladly refer you to professionals who can help.