Top tips for cutting down on your drinking

  1. Keep yourself busy.
  2. Keep a Drink Diary so you can see your overall pattern of drinking. If you can remember your drinking from last week, you will have an idea of whether you are drinking too much. You should also be able to understand some of the situations you drink excessively in. Tell other people you are cutting down – it is easier to stick to decisions when others know what they are.
  3. Along with a drink diary, work out how much you spend on booze. Think about what else you could do with the money saved.
  4. Choose a similar drink to your usual, but one that is weaker e.g. choose a regular strength lager rather than super strength.
  5. Replace some of your alcoholic drinks with a low alcohol drink or non-alcoholic drink (a ‘spacer’ rather than a ‘chaser’).
  6. Start drinking later in the day/evening.
  7. Take a smaller amount of money out to a drinking session, so you cannot afford so many drinks.
  8. Drink slower – alcoholic beverages more slowly.
  9. Take smaller sips.
  10. Put your glass down between sips.
  11. Try not to finish your drink before others finish theirs.
  12. Make your first drink a non-alcoholic one, particularly if you are thirsty.
  13. Have at least two alcohol free days a week.
  14. Avoid ’rounds’ when drinking in pubs/clubs.
  15. Decide on a limit for any drinking occasion, for example 5 units – be realistic.
  16. Keep a supply of attractive non-alcoholic drinks at home.
  17. Identify different ways of relaxing – these can include exercising.
  18. If you are anticipating a heavy evening, avoid drinking on an empty stomach and do not drive.
  19. You may find it difficult to reduce your intake of alcohol around certain people – changing your drinking pattern may require you to steer clear of him/her for a short time, at least until you feel confident of coping with their demands for you to drink heavily.

Tot up your units

Alcohol unit calculator

Go to NHS Choices homepage

Unfortunately you can’t just count each drink as a unit of alcohol. The number of units depends on the different strength and size of each drink, so it can vary a lot.

The units calculator supplied by the NHS helps you plan a night out, or help you work out how much you drink. It’s simple to use: just click on your drink, choose a strength and volume then calculate the units. You can calculate and add up the units of multiple drinks.

Download a simple paper based drinks diary (PDF, 656kb) to track your drinking over a week.