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Feature:
Alcohol Use and Abuse

Tips You Can Try to Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Small changes can make a big difference in reducing your chances of having alcohol-related problems. If you have tried cutting down but haven't made progress after 2 to 3 months, consider quitting drinking altogether, seeking professional help, or both. Here are some strategies to try, or you can create your own. Check off perhaps two or three to try in the next week or two.

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  • Keep track. Keep track of how much you drink. Find a way that works for you, carry drinking tracker cards in your wallet, make check marks on a kitchen calendar, or enter notes in a mobile phone notepad or personal digital assistant. Making note of each drink before you drink it may help you slow down when needed.
  • Count and measure. Know the standard drink sizes so you can count your drinks accurately. Measure drinks at home. Away from home, it can be hard to keep track, especially with mixed drinks, and at times, you may be getting more alcohol than you think. With wine, you may need to ask the host or server not to "top off" a partially filled glass.
  • Set goals. Decide how many days a week you want to drink and how many drinks you'll have on those days. It's a good idea to have some days when you don't drink. People who drink with the lowest rates of alcohol use disorders stay within the low-risk limits.
  • Pace and space. When you do drink, pace yourself. Sip slowly. Have no more than one drink with alcohol per hour. Have "drink spacers"—make every other drink a non-alcoholic one, such as water, soda, or juice.
  • Include food. Don't drink on an empty stomach. Eat some food so the alcohol will be absorbed into your system more slowly.
  • Find alternatives. If drinking has occupied a lot of your time, then fill free time by developing new, healthy activities, hobbies, and relationships, or renewing ones you've missed. If you have counted on alcohol to be more comfortable in social situations, manage moods, or cope with problems, then seek other, healthy ways to deal with those areas of your life.
  • Avoid "triggers." What triggers your urge to drink? If certain people or places make you drink even when you don't want to, try to avoid them. If certain activities, times of day, or feelings trigger the urge, plan something else to do instead of drinking. If drinking at home is a problem, keep little or no alcohol there.
  • Plan to handle urges. When you cannot avoid a trigger and an urge hits, consider these options: Remind yourself of your reasons for changing (it can help to carry them in writing or store them in an electronic message you can access easily). Or talk things through with someone you trust. Or get involved with a healthy, distracting activity, such as physical exercise or a hobby that doesn't involve drinking. Or, instead of fighting the feeling, accept it and ride it out without giving in, knowing that it will soon crest like a wave and pass. Also, see the short module to help you handle urges to drink.
  • Know your "no." You're likely to be offered a drink at times when you don't want one. Have a polite, convincing "no, thanks" ready. The faster you can say no to these offers, the less likely you are to give in. If you hesitate, it allows you time to think of excuses to go along.

Source:Rethinking Drinking, NIAAA

Read More "Alcohol Disorder" Articles

Understanding Alcohol Use Across Your Lifespan / Use and Abuse / Research Findings / Tips To Reduce Consumption

Winter 2013 Issue: Volume 7 Number 4 Page 25