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How to Cut Down on Your Drinking

How to Cut Down on Your Drinking

Follow these steps to help you cut down and manage your drinking:

Write your reasons for cutting down or stopping.

There are many reasons why you may want to cut down or stop drinking. You may want to improve your health, sleep better, or get along better with your family or friends.

Set a drinking limit.

Choose a limit for how much you will drink. You may choose to cut down or not to drink at all. If you are cutting down, keep below these limits:

  • Women: No more than one drink a day
  • Men: No more than two drinks a day

Keep a "diary" of your drinking.

Write down every time you have a drink for one week. This will show you how much you drink and when. Use this information to plan out ways to cut down on your drinking.

Now you know why you want to drink less and you have a goal. There are many ways you can help yourself to cut down. Try these tips:

  • Watch it at home.
    Keep a small amount or no alcohol at home. Don't keep temptations around.
  • Drink slowly.
    When you drink, sip your drink slowly. Take a break of one hour between drinks. Drink soda, water or juice after a drink with alcohol. Do not drink on an empty stomach! Eat food when you are drinking.
  • Take a break from alcohol.
    Pick a day or two each week when you will not drink at all. Think about how you feel physically and emotionally on these days. When you succeed and feel better, you may find it easier to cut down for good.
  • Learn how to say no.
    Practice ways to say no politely. For example, you can tell people you feel better when you drink less. Stay away from people who give you a hard time about not drinking.
  • Stay active.
    What would you like to do instead of drinking? Use the time and money spent on drinking to do something fun with your family or friends. Go out to eat, see a movie or play sports or a game.
  • Get support.
    Cutting down on your drinking may be difficult at times. Ask your family and friends for support to help you reach your goal. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble cutting down.
  • Watch out for temptations.
    Watch out for people, places, or times that make you drink, even if you do not want to. Plan ahead of time what you will do to avoid drinking when you are tempted.

Do not drink when you are angry or upset or have a bad day. These are habits you need to break if you want to drink less.


Most people do not cut down or give up drinking all at once. Just like a diet, it is not easy to change. That is okay. If you do not reach your goal the first time, try again. Remember, get support from people who care about you and want to help. Do not give up!

Source: National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism