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How to stop drinking so much alcohol

If you are concerned about your alcohol consumption and are looking for advice on how to stop drinking so much, we have looked at the steps you can take yourself, as well as the professional support that is recommended if you think you may have a problem.

Steps to stop drinking so much

Have you found that you are buying an extra bottle of wine every time you go out, or is the weekly shop becoming more expensive because of how much alcohol you are buying? Has drinking become a staple part of your routine, or are you finding that you are drinking more than the 14 recommended units of alcohol every week?

Here are some simple steps which can help you to cut down if you are looking to stop drinking so much:

Set goals and stick to them

Set yourself daily and weekly limits. Remember that the recommended weekly allowance of alcohol is 14 units, which equates to 6 pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine. Also set a budget and to stop yourself going over it, take a fixed amount of cash out with you to spend.

Block out alcohol-free days too – aim not to drink on the majority of days in a week.

Also, if there are places and events where you typically drink a lot, such as weddings, holidays or just a general Friday night out, create a plan to help you stop drinking so much. Set yourself an alcohol limit, order a taxi to arrive at a specific time and take a friend along who will support you.

Keep yourself busy

Keeping yourself busy can help to remove temptations to drink. What activity have you always wanted to try? Now is the perfect time to give it a go. Also, see what alcohol-free activities your friends have always wanted to do, and suggest going together.

Keep a journal and track your drinking

Write down when you drink, what you drank and the reasons why you drank. You will start to recognise patterns in your behaviour and underlying reasons that cause you to reach for alcohol. Once you have identified patterns and triggers, think about the strategies that you can introduce to manage this in the future.

For example, do you reach for a glass of wine when you feel stressed? If so, what healthier stress-busting techniques could you use instead? Or do you always find that you drink too much when you’re with a certain friend? Organise an alcohol-free activity when you next plan to see each other.

Swap your alcohol

When you order a drink, go for a small wine, a single measure of spirits or a bottle of beer instead of a pint. Also, swap your usual drink for something with a lower strength.

Keep an alcohol-free house

Keeping a ‘dry’ house can remove temptation at a time when you are trying to figure out how to stop drinking so much. Let your friends and family know that you are cutting down or stopping drinking, so that they don’t bring alcohol around or put any undue pressure on you.

There are numerous benefits of cutting down on alcohol. Find out about how it can help your body and your mind in our blog.

Do I need to stop drinking so much because I have a problem with alcohol?

If you are looking for information on how to stop drinking so much because you believe that you may have a problem with alcohol, think about the following questions:

  • Have you ever felt that you need to reduce the amount you are drinking?
  • Have you ever got annoyed when someone comments on your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning?

Answering ‘yes’ to two or more of these questions can be a sign of unhealthy drinking and possible alcoholism. Accessing professional support is highly recommended for people who have a drinking problem, as it can promote long-lasting and sustainable recovery. 

At Priory Group, our addiction treatment helps people to address their issues with alcohol and learn how to start navigating life without it. When you first visit your local Priory team, we will carry out a free initial assessment* to determine the extent of your drinking, and the treatment that we would recommend. This visit also gives you an opportunity to look around, meet the specialist team, and ask any questions that you have about the process.

Our team may recommend one the following forms of treatment:

  • An Addiction Treatment Programme – when dealing with alcohol misuse or addiction, a residential stay at one of our rehabilitation centres can provide you with time and space away from your everyday life to understand why you drink, and learn strategies for managing life going forward without alcohol. Through group sessions, seminars, workshops and individual working time, you can start to learn more about the impact that alcohol is having on you and the people around you, and discover ways to live your life without it. Medically-assisted detoxification can also be provided when needed
  • Therapy sessions – our therapy programmes provide you with a safe and supportive space to explore personal issues, connect with your feelings and learn strategies to recognise how to stop drinking so much going forward. We have day care programmes – which people can attend for full or half day sessions – as well as weekly sessions that typically last for an hour

*Individuals with a dual diagnosis may need to be assessed by a consultant psychiatrist which is a chargeable appointment.

Blog reviewed by Claire Rimmer (BA (Hons), Dip.Psychology, FDAD (NCAC)), Lead Addiction Therapist at Priory Hospital Altrincham

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