Tips on cutting down

If you regularly drink more than 14 units a week, try these simple tips to help you cut down.

Fourteen units is equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.

Make a plan

Before you start drinking, set a limit on how much you're going to drink.

Set a budget

Only take a fixed amount of money to spend on alcohol.

Let them know

If you let your friends and family know you're cutting down and it's important to you, you could get support from them.

Take it a day at a time

Cut back a little each day. That way, every day you do is a success.

Make it a smaller one

You can still enjoy a drink, but go for smaller sizes. Try bottled beer instead of pints, or a small glass of wine instead of a large one.

Have a lower-strength drink

Cut down the alcohol by swapping strong beers or wines for ones with a lower strength (ABV in %). You'll find this information on the bottle.

Stay hydrated

Have a glass of water before you have alcohol and alternate alcoholic drinks with water or a soft drink.

Take a break

Have several drink-free days each week. 

Benefits of cutting down

The immediate effects of cutting down include:

  • feeling better in the mornings
  • being less tired during the day
  • your skin may start to look better
  • you'll start to feel fitter
  • you may stop gaining weight

Long-term benefits include:

Mood

There's a strong link between heavy drinking and depression, and hangovers often make you feel anxious and low. If you already feel anxious or sad, drinking can make this worse, so cutting down may put you in a better mood generally.

Sleep

Drinking can affect your sleep. Although it can help some people fall asleep quickly, it can disrupt your sleep patterns and stop you sleeping deeply. So cutting down on alcohol should help you feel more rested when you wake up.

Behaviour

Drinking can affect your judgement and behaviour. You may behave irrationally or aggressively when you're drunk. Memory loss can be a problem during drinking and in the long term for regular heavy drinkers.

Heart

Long-term heavy drinking can lead to your heart becoming enlarged. This is a serious condition that can't be completely reversed, but stopping drinking can stop it getting worse.

Immune system

Regular drinking can affect your immune system. Heavy drinkers tend to catch more infectious diseases.

Find out more

Page last reviewed: 24/02/2016

Next review due: 24/02/2018

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Drinking and alcohol

Practical tips to help you cut down, plus information on low-risk drinking, how alcohol affects your health, and understanding units

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