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08th Dec 2023

Top ways to cut back on drinking as six signs show you’re a borderline alcoholic

Charlie Herbert

Ways to cut back on drinking

You don’t have to give up booze entirely

Most of us enjoy a drink every now and again, and some of us probably enjoy a drink slightly more often than this.

And with Christmas and New Year’s Eve hurtling towards us, a lot of us will be drinking much more than usual in the coming weeks.

The NHS recommends that adults don’t drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week, which is the equivalent of about seven or eight pints of normal strength (around 4 per cent) beer or cider.

But in recent years, it’s safe to say that drinking has become less popular.

More and more under-35s are choosing not to drink, and several famous faces have spoken about how they’ve decided to give up the booze.

So what are the main signs that you may be developing a slightly unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and what are the main ways you can cut back?

According to the NHS, alcohol misuse is “when you drink in a way that’s harmful, or when you’re dependent on alcohol.”

The main signs of this are:

1) You drink alcohol every day without thinking about it

2) You binge-drink regularly

3) You only socialise where drink is involved

4) You drink regularly during the day

5) You find it annoying when others are not drinking

6) You drink more than the NHS guidelines every month

You don’t necessarily need to go teetotal to try and address these issues though. You can improve your relationship with booze by cutting back on how much you drink, and the NHS has some simple tips to help with this.

It advises that you “make a plan” before you start drinking, by setting yourself a limit to what you’re going to drink and maybe also giving yourself a budget for the day. If you’re going out, you could try only taking a fixed amount of money with you.

It’s also important that you let friends and family know that you’re trying to cut back.

You’ll probably find things easier if you take it slow. So, take things “a day at a time”, cut back a “little each day” and maybe opt for smaller size drinks.

Going for lower-strength drinks and alternating alcoholic drinks with soft drinks or water could also be helpful.

Finally, the NHS advises that you have several alcohol-free days a week

If you are struggling with alcoholism, or know someone who is, you can find free help and advice at the following places:

  • Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, you can call this free helpline in complete confidence. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a free self-help group. Its “12 step” programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups.
  • Al-Anon Family Groups offer support and understanding to the families and friends of problem drinkers, whether they’re still drinking or not. Alateen is part of Al-Anon and can be attended by 12 to 17-year-olds who are affected by another person’s drinking, usually a parent.
  • We Are With You is a UK-wide treatment agency that helps individuals, families and communities manage the effects of drug and alcohol misuse.
  • You can also find more resources and help on the Drinkaware and NHS websites.

Related links:

The serious side effects of mixing alcohol with cola

The impact one month without booze has on your body