Knowing how to cut down on drinking isn’t something that comes naturally, while you may not suffer from alcoholism, you may not realise just how much alcohol is a part of your social life. Many drink alcohol to ‘destress’, to celebrate, to mourn – the list goes on.

The point is, you may not realise just how much you drink and even rely on drinking until you try to stop. Nonetheless, if you’ve found yourself here, you’re clearly taking actionable steps to cutting down on alcohol and thus have found the right guidance.

We’ve set out a step-by-step structure that can help you cut down on alcohol in a realistic, and manageable way. While it may seem easy to go cold turkey, even if you’re not addicted, it is unlikely to be sustained.

It is a better idea to instead take each step in manageable chunks, in an order that makes sense; that in mind, you can begin by taking step 1.

how to reduce drinking alcohol

Step 1: Understand Why You Want to Cut Down Drinking

This may sound self explanatory, but the first step is understanding the deeper rooted issue as to why you feel you need to be reducing alcohol intake.

Ask yourself a couple of questions, such as:

  • “Am I beginning to rely on alcohol?”
  • “Do I think about alcohol when I’m not drinking or planning on drinking?
  • “Am I disappointed if alcohol isn’t a part of the social function?”
  • “Can I control my alcohol intake when I drink?”
  • “Do I feel like I need alcohol to have fun?”
  • “Am I hiding my alcohol intake or being secretive?”

All of these questions will help you do some self reflection and help you to better understand your own alcohol usage and whether it is problematic or not.

it doesn’t always have to be this extreme, you could be looking for tips on cutting down alcohol to lose weight and generally improve your health.

While alcohol is legal, it is still a substance that can be abused and can result in detrimental outcomes, from chronic health conditions to breaking down relationships.

Whatever your own reasoning is, get to the bottom of it. Write it down and tell your peers so you have some level of accountability. Having this reasoning behind your actions is important, to ensure that when you may feel like giving up on your progress, you stay on track and continue toward your goal to cut down drinking.

Step 2: Set Realistic Goals

When it comes to finalising the ways how to cut down alcohol intake, in order to actually make progress and understand your journey, you should have a goal.

While the overall goal is to of course, cut down on alcohol, you should break this up into more manageable goals. Having a goal that seems so far away can make getting there feel incredibly long and even sometimes ends up with failure along the way.

In order to avoid giving up and to keep progress steady, you should ensure that you have smaller goals that you can tick off as you go along. Here are some smaller goals that you can consider when planning out ways how to cut down on drinking alcohol.

  • Go three consecutive weekends without drinking alcohol.
  • Go to a social event without drinking alcohol
  • Say ‘no’ to an offered alcoholic drink

These are goals that are more manageable when on the journey to cutting back or even stopping drinking altogether.

Step 3: Use Incentives To Keep You On Track

Incentives are a great way to reward yourself, one for cutting down alcohol intake could be the amount of money that you save.

Alcohol isn’t cheap, and due to its accessibility, you may not realise how much money you spend on it until you cut back.

A way to do this would be to write down all the times you would typically drink. For example, when you go to the supermarket and religiously pick up beer or a bottle of wine, save this money and put it to one side.

On a Friday when you might head out for drinks, put the money you would usually spend aside. Soon enough, you’ll realise just how much money piles up and you can reward yourself with something else with these savings.

Step 4: Track Progress & Set New Goals

In order to reach your goals, you should ensure that you’re tracking your progress.

It can be easy to get discouraged along the way when you’re on a journey to any goal, but by tracking your successes and understanding where you’re struggling, you can come up with new ways for reducing alcohol consumption.

You can track progress in a range of ways whether it be writing it down into a journal, or tracking by using an app.

You can even go for regular check ups with your GP to see how your body metrics are going and if you’ve lost fat or weight in the process. These are all helpful ways to remember why you started and why you’ll keep going.

Once you have completed one of your first goals, it might be time to set another and move onto the next. Remember how we said about making your bigger goals into smaller bite sized chunks?

Once you’ve ticked one off the list, reassess and start the next until you’re exactly where you hoped to be.

how to reduce alcohol intake

Step 5: Plan For Triggers & Settle Into New Habits

Finally, you should plan for future triggers so you can continue on cutting down drinking until it becomes second nature to decline drinks when you feel necessary,

So how can you plan for triggers?

Many people associate certain times of the day or certain people with consuming alcohol, while you aren’t expected to completely cut your friends off, it might be worthwhile asking them if they could avoid asking you to take part in potential temptation.

This is simply a way of planning for triggers in advance. In the outside world, whether you have been to rehab or not, there will always be triggers and planning on how you will avoid them is the best way to stay away from relapse.

The most common times wherein you may be tempted to drink frequently include situations like:

  • After work drinks
  • Special events (weddings, christenings etc.)
  • Nights out with friends

However, some situations are more likely to trigger an urge to drink excessively than others.
For example, it’s common to crave alcohol when you’re feeling down, finding it difficult to sleep, feeling stressed, having argued, trying to relax, or when others around you are drinking.

Over time, you’ll notice your drinking triggers and can document them alongside your plan so that you can be more aware of them and plan for how to get through these moments.

Once you’ve overcome the initial stages, you’ll soon begin to settle into new habits. We understand that it is difficult to understand how to cut down on alcohol when it is so new to you, so our best advice is to take it step by step.

Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself and understand that it’s a journey, not something that happens overnight.

Learn from Your Past, but Don’t Dwell on It

It’s easy to let past experiences with alcohol cloud your motivation on whether you’ll be able to stick to your plan and successfully cut back on alcohol. Each time you take a small step towards reducing your alcohol intake, reward your success, no matter how small it may seem.

Learn from any mistakes you might have made in the past and factor these into your plan to ensure they don’t happen again. This is the healthiest way how to cut down on alcohol – try your best to avoid giving up at the sight of a blip in the road.

If you’re still struggling to cut back on alcohol, then you may have developed a dependency on the substance. In this case, you may need to try alternative methods for rehabilitation to quit alcohol altogether before you take on these holistic tips.

If you need help and want to find out more, you can join a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre like Asana Lodge or by searching for alcohol addiction support services in your area with the NHS.


John Gillen - Author - Last Updated: 13 January 2023

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of Nad+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. his passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases.

The journey continues, in recent times john has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with Nad+ scientists and the very best of the medical profession in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Clinics own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists, Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with Nad+ therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.

Back to all posts