How can I drink less alcohol?

If you're trying to curb your alcohol consumption, here are some things to try:
  • Drink festive drinks that won't impact your blood pressure, such as nonalcoholic margaritas, mojitos and hurricane punch.
  • If you're at a party or event where alcohol is served for several hours, alternate water with alcoholic drinks, and stop drinking alcohol after a couple of drinks. If you're at a bar or restaurant, switch to iced tea or sparkling water after a drink or two.
  • If you're a heavy drinker, reduce alcohol intake slowly, over one to two weeks. If you stop suddenly, you risk developing severe high blood pressure for several days.
This content originally appeared on
Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Addiction Medicine
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests the following steps to help people cut back on their drinking:
  • Put it in writing. Making a list of the reasons to curtail your drinking -- such as feeling healthier, sleeping better, or improving your relationships -- can motivate you.
  • Set a drinking goal. Set a limit on how much you will drink. You should keep your drinking below the recommended guidelines: no more than one standard drink per day for women, as well as men ages 65 and older, and no more than two standard drinks per day for men under 65. These limits can be too high for people who have certain medical problems or for some older adults. Your doctor can help you determine what's right for you.
  • Keep a diary of your drinking. For three to four weeks, keep track of every time you have a drink. Include information about what and how much you drank as well as where you were. Compare this to your goal. If you're having trouble sticking to your goal, discuss it with your doctor or another health professional.
  • Don't keep alcohol in your house. Having no alcohol at home can help limit your drinking.
  • Drink slowly. Sip your drink. Take a one-hour break between drinks. Drink soda, water, or juice after having an alcoholic beverage. Never drink on an empty stomach.
  • Choose alcohol-free days. Decide not to drink a day or two each week. You may want to abstain for a week or a month to see how you feel physically and emotionally without alcohol in your life. Taking a break from alcohol can be a good way to start drinking less.
  • Watch for peer pressure. Practice ways to say no politely. You do not have to drink just because others are, and you shouldn't feel obligated to accept every drink you're offered. Stay away from people who encourage you to drink.
  • Keep busy. Take a walk, play sports, go out to eat, or catch a movie. When you're at home, pick up a new hobby or revisit an old one. Painting, board games, playing a musical instrument, woodworking -- these and other activities are great alternatives to drinking.
  • Ask for support. Let friends and family members know that you need their support. Your doctor, counselor, or therapist may also be able to offer help; several medications are available to help curb the urge to drink.
  • Guard against temptation. Steer clear of people and places that make you want to drink.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.