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Alcohol - Tips on cutting down
By NHS Choices   View more articles by this author
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October 1

If you regularly drink more than the recommended limits, try these simple tips to help you cut down.

Make a plan

Before you start drinking, set a limit on how much you’re going to drink.

Set a budget

Only take a fixed amount of money to spend on alcohol.

Let them know

If you let your friends and family know you’re cutting down and that it’s important to you, you could get support from them.

Take it a day at a time

Cut back a little each day. That way, every day you do is a success.

Make it a smaller one

You can still enjoy a drink but go for smaller sizes. Try bottled beer instead of pints, or a small glass of wine instead of a large one.

Have a lower-strength drink

Cut down the alcohol by swapping strong beers or wines for ones with a lower strength (ABV in %). You'll find this information on the bottle.

Stay hydrated

Drink a pint of water before you start drinking, and don't use alcohol to quench your thirst. Have a soft drink instead.

Take a break

Have the odd day each week when you don’t have an alcoholic drink.

The NHS recommends:


Men should not regularly drink more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol a day.

Women should not regularly drink more than 2 to 3 units of alcohol a day.

If you've had a heavy drinking session, avoid alcohol for 48 hours.

'Regularly' means drinking these amounts every day or most days of the week.

Benefits of cutting down

The immediate effects of cutting down include:

feeling better in the mornings

being less tired during the day

your skin may start to look better

you’ll start to feel fitter

you may stop gaining weight

Long-term benefits include:


There’s a strong link between heavy drinking and depression, and hangovers often make you feel anxious and low. If you already feel anxious or sad, drinking can make this worse, so cutting down may put you in a better mood generally.


Drinking can affect your sleep. Although it can help some people fall asleep quickly, it can disrupt your sleep patterns and stop you from sleeping deeply. So cutting down on alcohol should help you feel more rested when you wake up.


Drinking can affect your judgment and behaviour. You may behave irrationally or aggressively when you’re drunk. Memory loss can be a problem during drinking and in the long-term for regular heavy drinkers.


Long-term heavy drinking can lead to your heart becoming enlarged. This is a serious condition that can’t be completely reversed, but stopping drinking can stop it getting worse.

Immune system

Regular drinking can affect your immune system. Heavy drinkers tend to catch more infectious diseases.

This article first appeared on the NHS Choices website.

Using these tips will be a big help you if you decide to take on the moderate my alcohol consumption commitment contract.

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