Identify your reasons to change: Being clear about the reasons why YOU would like to stop or reduce your drinking is an important first step in changing your habits.
Set you goals: If you are dependent on alcohol, quitting altogether is the most appropriate goal. If you are intending to reduce your drinking, it is helpful to plan on which days you will allow yourself a drink and set a limit to the number of drinks you have on those days. Aim to have at least 2 alcohol free days a week and try to avoid drinking more than 4 (women) or 5 (men) drinks on any one occasion.
Get help: Think about someone you are close to and trust who can give you support while you are trying to make the change. Someone who has been through the experience of reducing or quitting alcohol might be particularly helpful and understanding. You can also make an appointment to see a healthcare professional or counsellor, or join a support group.
Recognise risky situations: In order to prepare yourself to change your drinking habits, it is often helpful to think about the situations that make you want to drink or drink too much.
Plan to avoid ‘drinking situations’: Avoiding those situations that make you want to drink or where you usually lose control over your drinking will make changing your drinking habits easier.
Learning other strategies: There are several other strategies that can help you reduce your drinking without anyone even noticing:
- Quench your thirst by drinking water or a non-alcoholic drink before you start drinking alcohol
- Eat before you start drinking. This will make you feel full and help you drink less.
- Have non-alcoholic drinks between every alcoholic one
- Take small sips of your drink, rather than gulps
- Dilute your alcoholic drink with soda or mixers
- Choose drinks with a lower alcohol content
- Avoid eating salty snacks while drinking as these make you thirsty
Preventing relapse: There will be times when you will find it difficult to stick to your plans. If you feel strong physical cravings, understand that they are a normal part of the process and usually only last a few minutes at a time. Think of ways to distract yourself when you feel a craving. Doing regular physical activity or exercise, eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep all help reduce cravings.