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 that 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
Drink a pint of water before you start drinking, and don't use alcohol to quench your thirst. Have a soft drink instead.

Take a break
Have several drink-free days each week.

You may be surprised to find out how much you actually drink. Print a drinks diary to track your drinking over a 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 from 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.

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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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