How to Control Your Alcohol Intake and Drink More Responsibly (2022)

If it has hit you that you are drinking too much and that cutting down or quitting is not as easy as you thought it would be, you may be wondering what other steps you can take to control your alcohol consumption. Many people, including some medical professionals, believe that abstinence is the only way. But medical research has shown that the cold-turkey approach may not be the best way for everyone.

How to Gain Control of Your Alcohol Use

Different approaches work for different people and various types of addiction. Some people may be able to quit and never have a drop of alcohol for the rest of their lives. For them, even a glass of wine every now and again could trigger a return to drinking heavily. If you recognize yourself as that kind of drinker, it's important to stay away from alcohol as much as possible.

For some people, drinking in moderation can be effective at curbing addictive behaviors to alcohol. Research tells us that controlled drinking is not only possible for many individuals, but it is quite common among people who used to drink heavily.

Many people cut down on their alcohol intake without medical or therapeutic help, although it is advisable to discuss your alcohol intake with your family doctor before trying to change it. It can also be helpful to talk with a counselor who is trained in assisting people with substance use concerns and addiction for their advice and support.

RethinkingDrinking is a great resource from the National Institutes of Health if you're considering a change.

The Risks of Quitting Substance Use Cold Turkey

How to Cut Back on Drinking

If you feel that avoiding alcohol completely is not for you, there are other options. Some people can get control over their drinking and drink safer levels of alcohol without having to quit entirely. If you plan to attempt to control your drinking, there are several steps you should take to assist you in this process.

Establish Your Drinking Goal

Although it is a good idea to think about reducing your alcohol intake, check whether you are a suitable candidate for controlled drinking. Some people shouldn't drink at all, especially if you have a history of addiction problems or a close relative with an addiction or mental health issue.

Your drinking goal should be based on what is best for your long-term health, as well as what is realistic for you, your family and friends, and other aspects of your lifestyle.

If you realize you should quit completely, talk to your doctor or addiction counselor about getting help with quitting alcohol and staying sober. Depending on how much you have been drinking recently, it may not even be safe or realistic to quit cold turkey, and your doctor can prescribe medications or refer you to a treatment program.

There is no shame in this. Remember, those who struggle with alcohol use disorder want to be able to reduce or moderate their alcohol intake, but it's not always something they can control despitetheir best efforts.

Controlled Drinking Goals

If you are a good candidate for controlled drinking, think about your goal and write it down. Some possible goals include:

  • I just want to drink on weekends.
  • I want to lower my overall intake to ahealthy amount.
  • I want to be able to drink at parties and other events without getting drunk.
(Video) How To Drink Alcohol The Healthy Way (MAX LUGAVERE)

Assess Your Current Alcohol Intake

Keep a drinking diary for one week. The most straightforward drinking diaries just record how much you drink each day, but the more you can keep track of, the better you will understand your own drinking patterns, and thus be able to control them. For example, every evening (or the following morning, if you forget), write down how many drinks you drank, where you were, and with whom.

Also write down any negative effects or situations that arose that you would like to avoid in the future. For example, "After my third beer, I got into an argument with Ben." This will give you a good idea of the times, places, and people where your drinking tends to become excessive or problematic.

Your safe alcohol limit is based on your blood alcohol concentration and is the amount of alcohol you can drink in a single drinking session. You will need professional assistance to determine what this safe limit is for you.

When you have figured out how many drinks you can drink, write it down, along with the drinking time period.

How Much Alcohol Is Safe to Drink Per Day?

Purchase Alcohol in Small, Measured Amounts

Stocking up on wine, beer, and liquor is the quickest way to sabotage your plan to drink responsibly. For drinking at home, follow these tips:

  • Avoid hard alcohol. Switching to drinking less concentrated drinks, like beer or wine over vodka, is one way to reduce alcohol intake.
  • Limit your purchases. Buy only the amount of alcoholic beverage that meets your safe alcohol limit, on the day you intend to drink it. If necessary, purchase individual cans or single serving or half-size bottles of wine.
  • Only drink after big meals. This will dilute the effect of alcohol consumption and therefore reduce the drive to drink excessively.
  • Stick to your schedule. Drink only the amount you wrote down, and at the speed specified. If you want more to drink in between, drink water, oralcohol-free or low-alcohol beverages.
  • Try alcohol-free or low-alcohol options. If you know that you'll want more drinks, but not more alcohol, purchase the same amount of alcohol-free or low-alcohol wine or beer.

Watch for Peer Pressure

Look at your drinking diary. If there are any people who encourage you to drink too much, try to avoid them for the first month or so while you get used to your new style of drinking. If you are constantly surrounded bypeer pressureto drink, start seeking out new friends or family members who don't drink as much.

5 Ways to Say No to Alcohol

Plan Your Journey Home

Even if you're drinking at a sensible level, you should not drive. Arrange for a ride home with a sober driver, or pre-book a cab or rideshare service. If that is too costly, plan your journey home via public transportation so you know when to leave while the buses or trains are still running. Leave your car at home so you will not be tempted to use it. Get a ride or take a bus or train to your event.

How Alcohol Impairs Your Driving Skills

(Video) Can a Moderation Approach to Drugs and Alcohol Successfully Treat Addiction?

Discover Healthy Alternatives

If drinking has occupied a big part of your social life, it may also be time to explore other activities and hobbies that don't involve alcohol and that focus on self-care. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Go for a walk.
  • Practice yoga, tai chi, or meditation.
  • Snuggle up with a loved one and watch a movie.
  • Start or join a book club.
  • Take up drawing or photography.
  • Try a new type of exercise class.

Seek Help

Talk to your family doctor or an addiction counselor about whether a moderation or abstinence-based approach is right for you. If you decide together that moderation is the right goal, there may be a program or support group that will support you in your new lifestyle. There are also medications that can be helpful for people who want to reduce their drinking.

Ask your doctor or counselor for a referral and/or work together to develop strategies for controlling your alcohol consumption and drinking responsibly or quitting all together.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database

6 Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Sayed BA, French MT. To your health!: Re-examining the health benefits of moderate alcohol use. Soc Sci Med. 2016;167:20-28. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.08.034

  2. Alcohol screening and counseling: an effective but underused health service.CDC Vital Signs. January 2014.

  3. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Rethinking Drinking Alcohol and Your Health.Thinking about a change? Tips to try.

  4. Robertson K, Tustin K.Students who limit their drinking, as recommended by national guidelines, are stigmatized, ostracized, or the subject of peer pressure: limiting consumption is all but prohibited in a culture of intoxication.Subst Abuse. 2018;12:1178221818792414. doi:10.1177/1178221818792414

  5. Harvard Health Publishing. Alcohol abstinence vs. moderation. 2009.

  6. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.Treatment for alcohol problems: finding and getting help. 2014.

Additional Reading

(Video) Hypnosis for ALCOHOL MODERATION & REDUCTION - Take Control of your Drinking NOW!

How to Control Your Alcohol Intake and Drink More Responsibly (1)

By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD
Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada.

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(Video) The Easy Way To Control Alcohol

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FAQs

How can we control and prevent alcohol? ›

How to Prevent Alcohol Misuse
  1. Don't Keep Alcohol At Home. If you don't have alcohol at home, you can't drink it. ...
  2. Know Your Drinking Limits. ...
  3. Surround Yourself With Non-Drinkers. ...
  4. Know The Consequences Of Excessive Alcohol Use. ...
  5. Tell Loved Ones Your Concerns. ...
  6. Treatment Is Always an Option.
25 Jul 2022

Why is it important to drink alcohol responsibly? ›

Reduced risk of heart disease or a heart attack. Reduced risk of strokes. Lower risk of gallstones. Lower risk of diabetes.

Why can I not stop drinking? ›

excessive alcohol consumption over time.

The changes that happen in the brains of those people are temporary. However, when you begin to drink alcohol on a consistent basis, especially in larger quantities, your brain chemistry begins to change, making it more challenging to manage your pattern of drinking.

How can we prevent teenage drinking? ›

Work to change community attitudes about underage drinking. Focus as much community attention on underage drinking as on tobacco and drug use. Work with State, Tribal, and local groups to reduce underage drinking. Make it easier for young people who are involved with or at risk for underage drinking to get help.

How do you drink safely? ›

Tips to Help You Stay Safe
  1. Keep an eye on your friends. ...
  2. Have a backup plan. ...
  3. Know what you're drinking. ...
  4. Trust your instincts. ...
  5. Don't leave a drink unattended. ...
  6. Don't accept drinks from people you don't know or trust. ...
  7. Check in with yourself. ...
  8. Be aware of sudden changes in the way your body feels.

Why do I not know when to stop drinking? ›

Having no off switch when drinking can suggest a lack of control. Excessive drinking to a point where you may be experiencing loss of body functionality may pose a risk to yourself and others. If you're identifying with this , it may be helpful to speak with a qualified alcohol abuse therapist.

What happens when stop drinking? ›

You Experience Withdrawal Symptoms if You Stop Drinking

Withdrawal symptoms can include sweating, tremors, sleep problems, rapid heartbeat, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, anxiety, restlessness, and possibly even seizures.

Do most people drink responsibly? ›

The figures from the Balance survey perfectly illustrate the point. Not only do 90% of all drinkers believe they consume alcohol responsibly, but 83% of those drinking at risky levels also class themselves as 'responsible.

What is considered responsible drinking? ›

To reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed.

How do you responsibly drink alcohol Reddit? ›

How do you all "drink responsibly"?
  1. Never exceed more than three drinks a day.
  2. Never exceed more than four drinking days per week. (e.g. no drinking 3 days a week)
  3. I will screw up. Just wake up tomorrow and follow the rules.
  4. The rules don't apply at social occasions.
29 Jan 2018

Is it possible to drink alcohol responsibly? ›

Drinking responsibly is a vague recommendation. Moderate drinking means consuming one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. But you can probably consume more than two drinks per day and still drink responsibly.

How much alcohol is safe per day? ›

Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults generally means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. Examples of one drink include: Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters) Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)

What can teenager do to avoid drinking alcohol? ›

Drink slowly, don't drink on an empty stomach, and alternate alcoholic drinks with water. Keep count of drinks and limit how many alcoholic drinks you have. Don't get involved in drinking games.

Which alcohol is least harmful to your liver? ›

Unfortunately, there is no type of alcohol that is easier on your liver. Overall, the amount you drink is what matters. At the end of the day, the damaging ingredient in alcohol is "ethanol" and all alcoholic drinks contain it.

Why do I not know when to stop drinking? ›

Having no off switch when drinking can suggest a lack of control. Excessive drinking to a point where you may be experiencing loss of body functionality may pose a risk to yourself and others. If you're identifying with this , it may be helpful to speak with a qualified alcohol abuse therapist.

What is considered responsible drinking? ›

To reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed.

What happens when you stop drinking everyday? ›

Symptoms/outcomes you may see

Onset of withdrawal symptoms which may include hand tremors, retching, excessive sweating, restlessness and anxiety. Withdrawal symptoms continue. Alcohol cravings, reduced energy and feeling low or depressed are common.

Which alcohol is best for heart? ›

Red wine, in moderation, has long been thought of as heart healthy. The alcohol and certain substances in red wine called antioxidants may help prevent coronary artery disease, the condition that leads to heart attacks.

What happens when you drink alcohol everyday? ›

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including: High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum.

What are three 3 strategies to prevent intoxication? ›

Strategies to prevent undue intoxication
  • Stop intoxicated patrons at the front door. ...
  • Monitor the drinking environment. ...
  • At functions, ensure the host knows that service will be refused to unduly intoxicated patrons, even if it they're paying an all-inclusive price for the function. ...
  • Do not provide multiple drinks tickets.
26 Jun 2019

What age should you start drinking alcohol? ›

Children and young people are advised not to drink alcohol before the age of 18. Alcohol use during the teenage years is related to a wide range of health and social problems.

What do you call a person who can no longer control their use of alcohol? ›

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.

What is the most harmful alcohol? ›

Everclear – This type of grain alcohol is 190 proof in its purest form, making it the most dangerous kind of alcohol a person can consume. Even two shots of Everclear can land a person in the emergency room – easily.

How can you cleanse your liver? ›

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Eat a well-balanced diet every day. That's five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables, along with fiber from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Be sure to include protein for the enzymes that help your body detox naturally.

What alcohol is the hardest on your liver? ›

Myth 3: Drinking hard liquor is worse than drinking beer or wine. Contrary to popular belief, the type of alcohol you drink doesn't make a difference – what matters is how much you drink.

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