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Tips for drinking less

Tips for drinking less on a night out

  • Go out later.
  • Bring less money.
  • Order smaller drinks – a glass rather than a bottle or pint, a single measure rather than a double.
  • Pick lower strength drinks.
  • Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic or soft drinks.
  • Drink slowly - sip your drinks and wait until you've finished one before you order another.
  • Avoid buying rounds. If you can’t, buy yourself a non-alcoholic drink when it’s your round.
  • If you’re leaving, leave your drink unfinished.

Tips for drinking less at home

  • Stock up on low-alcohol or alcohol-free drinks.
  • Use a standard measure for spirits, rather than pouring ‘freehand’.
  • Start drinking a bit later - go for a walk, have a shower or do some extra jobs or activity first.
  • Change your routine to find new things to do at your usual ‘drinking times’.
  • If you're giving up or drinking less, don't keep alcohol at home.
  • Consider not buying alcohol in your weekly shopping.
  • Don’t store alcohol in the fridge - keep it out of the way in a cupboard or cabinet in a room other than the kitchen or sitting room.

Related topic

Benefits of cutting down or giving up alcohol

Staying on track

Be prepared for danger times and places when it will be hardest to stay on track.

You might find it hard not to drink at times you usually do, such as:

  • after work
  • on nights out with friends
  • at home alone
  • watching sports
  • at big celebrations like weddings and family events
  • after arguments or at stressful times
  • when you are feeling down or lonely
  • with a meal
  • after putting the kids to bed

Make a plan

Have a plan for how you will cope before you get into the situation.

For example:

  • drink low-alcohol alternatives.
  • suggest alcohol-free activities with friends.
  • learn some stress-management techniques, like controlled breathing or mindfulness
  • change your route to avoid pubs or off-licenses
  • avoid having alcohol in the house

Related topic

Stress busters - how to deal with stress

Prepare for peer pressure

Try to tell the people you usually drink with about your plans to cut down, so they understand.

Buy your own drinks or be the designated driver.

Have some answers ready:

  • 'I’m on a diet.'
  • 'I’m on medication.'
  • 'I’m off it at the moment.'
  • 'I have to be up early in the morning.'

If you are worried about your alcohol use, take our alcohol test to find out what type of drinker you are.

Related topics

Weekly low-risk alcohol guidelines

page last reviewed: 08/11/2019
next review due: 08/11/2022

HSE Drugs and Alcohol Helpline

Freephone 1800 459 459 for confidential information and support