Top 10 tips for cutting back on drinking

Senior Regional Physician at Bupa UK
23 September 2016

Guidelines say you shouldn’t have more than 14 units of alcohol a week. But it’s easy for the units to sneak up on you. Whether it’s a regular quick drink after work, or a beer with the team after football training, UK social life can be entrenched in alcohol. Here I’ve shared my top 10 tips to try to get on top of your alcohol consumption, or if you want to quit, stop altogether.

A row of wine glasses

  1. Keep track

    It’s easy to lose track of how much we’re drinking, although a hangover can be a stark reminder! It can really help to keep track of exactly how much you have. There are plenty of apps you can use on your phone that you can update while you’re on the go. Try this DrinkAware tool. If you drink at home, use a measure so you know how many units you’re drinking.

  2. Shrink your drinks

    Swap a large glass of wine for a small one, or a pint of beer for a half. You could halve the amount you drink and savour your drinks more.

  3. Take note of the alcohol content

    Drinks can vary massively in how much alcohol they contain. Some wines really top the charts in alcohol levels these days and the influx of craft beers can be much stronger too. Take more interest in how many units your drink of choice contains and try out some lower-alcohol alternatives. Throw in a non-alcoholic beer – you never know, you might like it!

  4. Drink-free days

    As well as limiting the number of units you drink a week, it’s also important to have several drink-free days. Set a target and keep track so you know when you’ve reached it – or even smashed it. And reward yourself if you do, but not with booze – enjoy a trip to the cinema or to a spa; whatever motivates you.

  5. Make a change

    If your social life revolves around pubs, bars and eating out, try something new to break the cycle of drinking. Take up a new sport to socialise with others, join a book club, or learn a new language. You will soon find you can enjoy your time without the booze.

  6. A dry home

    Rather than stocking up at home, limit your alcoholic drinks to when you go out. You’ll break any habitual drinking in no time. If soft drinks seem boring to you, research some recipes for non-alcoholic cocktails. Get creative! Try some of these tasty mocktails to get started!

  7. Fight your urges

    If you get a craving for a glass of red, or a pint of cool beer, remind yourself why you’re cutting back on the booze. Why not write these down and carry them with you as a reminder? Urges and cravings pass – ride it out and keep your goals in sight.

  8. Stay strong

    If your friends pressure you to drink to ‘fit in’, be true to your goal. The more you say no, the less they’ll ask. It can help to stay out of rounds too, so you stay in control of what you’re drinking. If you’re cutting down, it will also make it easier to have regular soft drink breaks during the night.

  9. Team up

    You’re likely to find it much easier to make these changes if you make them with a friend or partner. You can keep each other going and support each other through any cravings.

  10. Ask for help

    If you’ve been drinking more heavily after a series of ‘bad days’ or to avoid problems, it might be a sign that you need some support. Go and have a chat with your GP to talk through the reasons why you might be drinking so much, and better ways to cope. There are support organisations that can help you too, such as the NHS Drinkline


Dr Andrew Li
Senior Regional Physician at Bupa UK

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