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Man choosing to drink less alcohol by placing his hand over his glass.

Tips for Cutting Back on Alcohol and Saying “No” to Peer Pressure

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Imagine this scenario: You’ve decided that you want to drink less alcohol, so you make a conscious effort to cut back on your drinking. At first, everything is fine. Then, the next thing you know, you find yourself in a social situation where everyone is drinking and you feel obligated to join in. Or, maybe you’re at home feeling anxious about how to pass the time without your drink of choice. Either way, drinking less alcohol isn’t always as easy as it sounds. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re addicted to alcohol, it could be a warning sign that you’re headed down that path.

If you’re concerned about your drinking and you’ve never tried to cut back, this article offers several easy tips for drinking less and saying “no” to alcohol at parties and gatherings. If you follow these suggestions and you still find that you have difficulty controlling the amount of alcohol you drink, it could be time to seek professional help.

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How to Cut Back on Alcohol by Saying No

Group of friends hanging out at a small party
Don’t let people pressure you into drinking alcohol. Practice your response for turning down a drink in advance and stick to it!

Saying no to our peers should be easy, but that isn’t always the case. This is why it’s important for you to have a planned response when someone offers you a drink and you’d prefer to stay sober. Once you decide on a response that works for you, stick to the script! Eventually your friends will get the message, even if you have to repeat yourself a few times.

1. “No thanks, my stomach feels weird:” Well have days when we just don’t feel our best. No one can blame you for passing on alcohol with an uneasy stomach.

2. “I can’t, it will interfere with my medication:” Many medications don’t mix with alcohol and can cause serious problems. If pressed, keep it simple. Say you’re taking Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen.

3. “No thanks, I’m watching my diet:” Alcohol contains a ton of calories, and this is a perfectly valid response that many people will understand or relate to.

4. “Sorry, I have to drive soon:” This one is great because not only is it a valid excuse, it also gives you an out if you need to bail on the party to avoid further temptation.

5. “Thanks, but I need to pass. Doctor is concerned about my blood pressure:” People who have high blood pressure should avoid drinking alcohol as it can worsen the problem.

Other Tips for Drinking Less Alcohol

Friends who are cutting back on alcohol by playing video games
Drinking less alcohol is easier when you spend more time on healthy activities like video games with your friends.

1. When You Do Drink, Set Limits: If you know you’re going to drink alcohol, give yourself a boundary and stick to it! A boundary could be deciding not to drink during the week, taking 2-3 days off between drinks or allowing yourself a set number of adult beverages. After you decide on a boundary, put it in writing and consider keeping a journal of what you drink. This could make it easier to hold yourself accountable.

2. Alternate Between Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Beverages: The next time you find yourself in a situation where your peers are consuming large quantities of alcohol, remember that you don’t need to keep up with them. For every adult beverage you consume, follow it with an equal amount of water. Your body will thank you the next day.

3. Don’t Drink So Fast: Are you a craft beer aficionado or a wine enthusiast? If so, slow down. Don’t gulp your drinks one after the other. Craft beers, wine and spirits contain more alcohol than light beer or hard ciders, and it’s easier to become intoxicated. In fact, one double IPA could contain two or three times as much alcohol as a single light beer.

4. Structure Your Free Time Around Positive Activities: It’s easy to drink too much when alcohol is central to everything you do in your free time. So, try to set aside time each day for alcohol-free activities. Wondering how to pass the time? Easy! Just think about the things that interest you. Books, video games, outdoor activities, photography… you name it. Make a plan to spend a couple hours each day engaging with healthy activities you love.

5. Tell Friends & Family You’re Cutting Back on Alcohol: Be honest with your peers and tell them you want to drink less. If they have your best interests at heart, they should be more than happy to help you cut back on your drinking. And if they don’t? Well, it could be time to find more positive influences.

Still Having Trouble Drinking Less Alcohol?

Alcohol dependency is the most severe form of problem drinking. But, not every problem drinker is an alcoholic. What’s the difference? Alcoholics are physically and mentally dependent on drinking, and they struggle with maintaining sobriety every day. On the other hand, problem drinkers may not be physically addicted to alcohol. Sometimes, they can long periods without drinking at all. When they do drink, though, it causes problems – either in their own lives or in the lives of the people around them.

If you try cutting back on your drinking and find that you are physically unable to drink less alcohol, it might be time to consider a professional alcohol addiction treatment program.

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