Ways to reduce your alcohol use

Reducing how frequently you drink

  • Have a few alcohol-free nights a week. Enjoy the summer weather and go for a walk, or go to beach/park when you get home from work, rather than drinking alcohol once you walk through the door after work. It can also be worthwhile doing exercise after work (straight from work, don’t go home first!) – physical exercise can help relieve tension and relax your mind.
  • Change your “after work routine”. Start putting the kettle on when you get home, instead of going straight to the fridge on those alcohol-free days.
  • Drive on Saturday night. Being a designated driver is a good way making sure you don’t drink.
  • Go somewhere where you don’t have to drink such as the movies, or picnic at the beach or park.
  • Try not to keep alcohol in the house. When it comes to drinking, easy access it the ultimate enabler and if all it takes is opening the fridge then you're potentially on a slippery slope. Not keeping alcohol in the house is an effective method to kerb drinking behaviour. If it's not there, you can't drink it. Instead of keeping a steady supply of alcohol nearby, make your house a drink-free zone and only head to the bottle shop if you specifically need drinks for an occasion. The added bonus being that if you have to drive to get drinks the effort required means you'll only go if it's really necessary.
  • If a friend drops in unexpectedly (who you may normally offer alcohol to) offer them a non-alcoholic drink such as tea, coffee, sparkling water or a soft drink. And don't make apologies/excuses for it, just do it! (works very well if it is day time).
  • When you want an alcohol-free day, start your day right: start your day with an intention of how you want your day to happen. For example, I will eat healthy and exercise. Have a written plan for exactly how you want your day to unfold. When your mind is tempted to drink, remember your intention and your plan and why it is important to you.
  • Find ways to change your routine. For example, if you are coming home from work and relaxing with a drink is the pattern, pack a beach bag/picnic/joggers or exercise clothes in the morning and drive straight there from work rather than via home.
  • For reducing either frequency or quantity see if you can get a friend/partner/family member to join you to keep you accountable.
  • Take part in Febfast or Dry July as ways of doing it differently.
  • Set a budget on how much you will spend on alcohol in any period.

Reducing how many drinks you have

  • Drink low strength alcohol. Having low alcohol drinks is a smart way of ensuring you are drinking less and minimising the negative impacts of alcohol. That way if you're out at a long social function you can drink something with lower alcohol content over a longer period of time, if need be.
  • Rather than having a few drinks before eating when out to dinner, wait until dinner is served. Aim to only have 2 standard drinks. 1 full strength stubbie or a glass of wine has around 1.5 standard drinks, so why not only have one drink with dinner. Consuming food at the same time also helps as it slows down drinking.
  • Don’t drink in rounds if you head out on Saturday night. Drinking in rounds is also one of the behaviours that makes you drink more than you would want to. If you don’t do rounds you'll be able to drink at your own pace plus you can leave whenever you'd like, as opposed to waiting for someone to 'catch up' on the shout round.
  • If going to a friends’ house take less alcohol with you and take some non-alcoholic drinks that you enjoy drinking. Remember to pack a variety of drinks – soda water and lime can get boring.
  • Practice saying 'no'. It may be difficult at first, but you'll be surprised how quickly it can become comfortable to say 'no' and others will get used to it.
  • Make every second drink a non-alcoholic drink. Drink non-alcoholic drinks as 'spacers' such as a glass of water, soft drink, soda water or juice. Drink these slowly (do not gulp them down and fill up with your drink because you have “had a spacer”!)
  • Slow down your drinking so you can enjoy your drink just as much, if not more, if you drink slowly. Try and remind yourself to sip, not gulp as this will help you to control your rate of drinking. Concentrate on drinking every drink slowly.
  • Think about your non-drinking or low-drinking friends – invite them out so you're not the only one not drinking in the group.
  • When you need to tell friends that you can’t drink or need to drink less, rehearse a few standard responses – this may be helpful if people are bugging you to drink more. And have a safety/escape plan if you find yourself feeling vulnerable.
  • Have some key phrases/responses for people to respond to when caught by surprise or feeling the peer pressure to drink more, “I’m pacing myself” “I’m on a health kick”.
  • Try not to mix your alcoholic drinks eg: if you start by drinking beer, stay with drinking beer for the entire time.
  • Before starting to drink –– have a few glasses non-alcoholic drinks ie water so you don’t drink fast in the beginning just because you are thirsty.
  • Eat before you start drinking (especially if you are drinking at home). Having a full stomach can temper how many drinks you feel like drinking.
  • Along with thinking about pre-arranged reasons why you’re not drinking perhaps think about some non-alcoholic drinks that you could order before being put on the spot at the bar.

Other tips

  • Check out Hello Sunday Morning – online encouragement and support about changing one’s relationship with alcohol.
  • Using phone apps, apps can help people set goals, intentions, reasons not to drink and track success so far. They can become a good reminder of your intentions to reduce your drinking when out, and it is very socially acceptable to reach for your phone.

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