26 Tips For If You’re Trying To Drink Less, For Whatever Reason
"Today, I decided not to drink. And that's enough."
1. Keep track of how much money you're spending on alcohol to provide a little extra incentive.
"Just by cutting out drinking — and the drunk food, Uber rides, and cigarettes — I saved enough money that I was finally able to move into an apartment alone, which is something I thought I could never afford!"
2. Use an app to keep you motivated because the more days you go without drinking, the more you'll want to keep your streak.
"I still drink occasionally but when I wanted to cut back, I used a sobriety counter app. It tells you down to the second how long it's been since your last drink and it's nice to see the number rise."
3. Say “I’m not drinking today” instead of “I’m never drinking ever again” (if that works for your situation).
"When you set smaller goals for yourself, they’re easier to achieve and much less daunting."
4. Work out in the morning to discourage yourself from a late night of drinking.
"Drinking the night before makes me want to puke during my early morning workout. Plus, I’m so worn out from being up for so long that I can't stay up past 8:30 p.m., anyway. It also helps that my gym buddies are sober!"
5. Offer to be the designated driver, so you have an obligation to stick to water.
"I’m in charge of making sure everyone gets home safe."
7. Order a sparkling water, a soda, or even a mocktail so that people don't badger you into drinks or shots.
"I’m a pretty private person, so I didn’t announce anything to my friends. I always just decline when it comes to drinks and shots, but it's easier to do so when I'm holding something."
8. And bring an alcohol-free drink for yourself when you go to family gatherings or parties.
"When I was first getting sober (it's almost been three years), my sponsor suggested that I bring my own drinks if I'm not sure there will be alcohol-free options."
9. Try a few non-alcoholic beers to kick the craving — but drink them ice cold and out of a frosted glass.
"The taste actually satisfies my subconscious desire for beer."
10. Hang out in a café when you want to meet up with your friends.
"I wasn't ever much of a heavy drinker, but I decided to quit cold turkey and my friends are super supportive. I think cafés are cozier than bars, anyway."
11. Identify the people, places, and things that make you want to drink and consider removing them from your life, depending on your circumstance.
"As a substance abuse counselor, I've learned that anything — from the person you drink with to the places you drink at — can cause the urge to drink. Even the clothes you'd wear when you drink can be a trigger."
12. Tell a little white lie if you really need to get out of an awkward spot and feel like you don't have any other choice.
"I’ve used 'I can’t drink, I’m on antibiotics' more times than I can count."
13. If you feel an urge to drink, tell someone or write your thoughts down.
"Find a great support network and use them — the people who want you around are the ones who want you to get better."
14. Read This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life to get nonjudgmental support.
15. Make sure that you want to stop drinking — you might be setting yourself up for failure if you're trying to do it for someone else.
"If you’re going to stop drinking, make sure that the motivation behind it is 100% because you want this. If you do this for anyone else, you’re setting yourself up for failure."
16. Leave your response vague when someone offers you a drink.
"I quit for good a few years ago now. The main thing I've learned is that when someone offers me a drink, it's better to say, 'No thanks, I'm alright.' It invites questions or curiosity when you say, 'No thanks, I don't drink.' If you don't want to talk about it, just don't bring it up."
17. Take on a new craft to keep yourself busy for the first few months when the adjustment is the toughest.
"About four years ago, I seriously cut back on my drinking. I realized that I felt like I needed liquor to make anything fun, which was pretty messed up. So I basically had to relearn how to have fun without being tanked. Especially during the first few months, crafts and TV shows were really helpful! Now when I drink — maybe two or three times a year — I realize that I don't even like it. I’m eternally grateful that I gave it up long enough to see how irrelevant it was to my happiness."
18. If at first you don't succeed, try again.
"My degree in chemical dependency and my 13 years of society have taught me that most people can't break a bad habit immediately. And that's okay."
19. Remember that you can drink whenever you want, but you decide not to.
"Today, I decided not to drink. And that's enough."
20. Find someone to vent or cry to so that you aren't bottling up all of your emotions.
"I still drink occasionally now, but I heavily abused alcohol from the time between 19 to 22. I was self-medicating, but at the same time I was depressed and repressing a lot of emotions I was attempting to ignore. I also learned I was very secretive about the pain I was experiencing from things going on in my life, and if you can find at least one person to vent to, cry, and let it out, it truly does help. Whether it be a therapist, or a friend or family member, it’s helpful to have someone that will listen."
21. Stop thinking about a slip as a failure and start thinking about it as a learning opportunity.
"I stopped drinking because I know that I can't just have one or two drinks. Do I slip? Absolutely. I’m a human with struggles. However, whenever I do slip, I don’t let it ruin me. I think of it as a learning opportunity to pinpoint what caused the slip and what I can do to further prevent another."
22. Tell your friends so they can support you when you're not drinking.
"I give up drinking for Lent every year and I’ve found it helps to tell my friends because I have people holding me accountable."
23. Join a community of people who are sober so they can help you navigate the ups and downs that come with quitting.
"There are so many different kinds of different recovery communities — AA is no longer the only option. Surrounding yourself with people who have successfully stopped drinking and who are willing to walk the journey with you will make all the difference."
24. Ask a friend or family member if they will stop drinking with you so the process doesn't feel so lonely.
"I’ve been a bartender for five years, but I stopped drinking about a month ago because I wanted to lose all the weight I had gained from taking shots every night. Plus, I wanted to save the money I made from all the crazy hours I worked! It's really helped that my boyfriend is staying sober with me because I have someone to talk to about it when I'm having a harder day than usual with the cravings. There's strength in numbers."
25. Try new hobbies and activities, if you feel like you're stuck in a rut without drinking.
"I could tell that my drinking was becoming a problem when I blacked out on my birthday. I realized that I was using alcohol because I was bored with my life. I knew that I needed to change up my routine so I signed up with a personal trainer and took a few art classes. I also treat myself more often to manicures or trips to the mall. Now, I order water when I go out with my friends. I haven't had a single drink since my birthday."
26. And most importantly, seek professional help if you're having trouble sticking to your sobriety.
"There is no shame in getting help with addiction."
Don't be afraid to talk to your doctor if you're worried that your drinking is becoming a problem.
The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment's 24-hour National Treatment Referral Hotline (1-800-662-HELP) will be able to direct you to treatment services in your area.
You can also find advice on finding quality alcohol treatment on the NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.