This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways you could try cutting down your consumption of alcohol – however there are almost an endless supply of different things you can use in your attempts to cut down. Try them all and lean into the ones that you enjoy and seem to give you a little traction.
Be clear with yourself as to why you want to cut down
Grab a pen and paper, or your preferred digital device, and take note of all the reasons you are wanting to reduce your consumption. Be honest. The more honest you are the better. Once it’s down on paper you can leave that for a couple of days and come back to it – check to see whether the list is still as comprehensive and rational is you originally thought when you wrote it.
Set drinking goals
This isn’t an invitation to see how many shots of vodka you could consume in a 30 minute window – we’re trying to cut down here! Setting some positive goals can be a really helpful way identifying where you’d like to be in the near future and the steps you’re going to need to to take to get there. There are even some criteria/frameworks out there to help you start to define your goals – like ‘SMART’ – which says that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
Use an app
Be mindful about which app you use and the role that the app plays in the context of your goal to cut down drinking. Apps don’t solve the whole problem of needing to cut down drinking, but they can play a really positive role in your suite of arsenal to really give it a great shot. Cutting down drinking involves having a greater awareness of how alcohol affects you, the risks associated with different levels of consumption, and supporting the underlying reasons behind your decision to drink regularly and why you may find it difficult to adjust your habit. Does your app support you this way?
Keep track of how much you drink
You don’t have to be keeping score after every drink – in fact, that’s probably a lot of work and possibly keeping the negative aspects of your drinking behavior front of mind just a little too often. A better idea might be checking in with yourself each morning and taking a quick note on how much you had the day before. Over time you may begin to notice that on some days, you consume more than on others… or that perhaps, this month is tracking on par with you drinking less than the month before. Why is that? Be curious and make that insightful data work for you by creating positive changes around any trends you identify. If you’re not sure how to do this – reach out to someone you trust like a close friend or your doctor.
Don’t keep alcohol in your house
It sounds so simple. And, it’s possibly very effective for some people. It really depends on where you spend your time and where you’re likely to find yourself being tempted to drink. If you spend a lot of time at home, then this one could be worth trying.
Drinking slowly can really help with urges. Most urges usually subside the moment we’re distracted or lose interest. You may be comfortable just controlling the time in between sips. Alternatively, you could sit with a glass of water nearby and alternate between your alcoholic beverage and the water to create a time buffer between drinking.
Choose alcohol-free days
Plan ahead and choose some alcohol-free days. Commit to it. Let others close by know that you’re planning to have an alcohol free day on the day and get their support in sticking with it. It can be challenging to stick to your goal, so getting support from others is ok.
Watch for peer pressure
Depending on your lifestyle and the people you hang around with, peer pressure can play a role in your efforts to cut down drinking. Write a list of potential scenarios where this may occur and identify people who may be able to help you at this time and those who are probably contributing to peer pressure. Then think about ways in which all of them can help you in their own way. It may be useful having a chat with them about what you’re trying to achieve. You may find you have some really useful allies that can help you succeed along the way.
Busy doing something you love or doing something with real purpose can really help you take your mind away from drinking alcohol. What could you be doing right now? It may be helpful to plan these activities ahead of time and schedule them in for times when you’re most likely to be tempted to drink. It will be hard. But start somewhere. Start small. You can do it!
Ask for support
Don’t be afraid. Don’t reach the age of 80 and look back on your life wishing that you had taken action sooner. There’s more to life than drinking, so ask for support. The sooner you can start living a healthier lifestyle, the sooner you will start being more present in everything you do in life. There are likely to be some telephone based counselling services / psychologists / support groups in your area. There are also some online supports which you might find helpful to start with like /r/cutdowndrinking and 7cups.
Guard against temptation
Have I suggested that you “plan ahead” yet? Start doing it. Temptation is probably one of the most prevalent thoughts you will experience while trying to adjust your drinking behaviours. You will be tempted. Start identifying times of the day, environments, people, food, thoughts, etc. that may trigger temptation and come up with some ideas to guard against it. They may not work. But keep trying and see what works.
Monitor your feelings
Keep tabs on how you are feeling while drinking and while you aren’t drinking. Pay attention to how happy you are, how well you’re sleeping, and how well you’re able to focus and see if there are any patterns that coincide with your drinking. Having a greater awareness of the effect alcohol has on your body and mind can really go a long way to influencing your decision making and will help support your overall wellbeing.
Nobody succeeds the first time. Everytime something looks like an overnight success, there is always more to the story. Failing is very necessary part of the journey towards all the great things you’re aiming for. Fail often and pay attention to the cause(s). Seek a second opinion on your thoughts for some perspective. It’s a lot of effort being persistent, but it will probably be one of the most significant factors behind your success.
Create a new Cut Down account and start getting the support you deserve today.