Making a Plan to Cut Back on Alcohol Use

Overview

If you think you are drinking too much alcohol and want to cut back, having a plan can help you get started. Here's how.

  • Know your reasons.

    Write down your reasons for wanting to cut back. You're more likely to succeed if you know exactly why you want to change.

  • Set some specific goals.

    You're not as likely to succeed if your goal is just to "drink less." Have a long-term goal, like lowering your blood pressure or losing weight. And set some short-term goals that will get you there, like having "no-drink" days.

  • Have a plan for dealing with barriers.

    Expect slip-ups. When you have one, think about what led to it. You can use this information to avoid a similar result next time.

    Many things can interfere with meeting your goal to cut back on drinking. If your current life revolves around alcohol use, you might need to choose new friends or a new lifestyle. In your plan, include ways to deal with barriers. For example:

    • Stay away from people who give you a hard time about drinking less. Spend time with people who support your desire to cut back on using alcohol.
    • Stay away from places or events that make you want to drink. Stay away from people who drink a lot or bars where you used to drink. Plan ways to avoid drinking when you are tempted.
    • Stay active. It is easier to cut back on drinking alcohol when you are busy doing things that you like to do. Take time to really think about how you would like to spend your time. Have you wanted to learn a craft or hobby or play a musical instrument? Now is a good time to start.
    • Consider not having alcohol in the house.
    • Make a list of people and places in your life that have nothing to do with alcohol use.
  • Get support.

    Changing habits is usually easier when you get support from friends and family. Tell them what you're trying to do, and ask them to help.

  • Reward yourself.

    Plan to treat yourself every time you reach one of your goals. It could be a night at the movies, a new pair of shoes, or just some quiet time to yourself.

Credits

Current as of: November 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Peter Monti PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health