Steps to Moderation

For many people the goal of drinking more moderately is achievable. Lots of people achieve this on their own, after simply becoming more aware of the various unwanted costs that come with drinking heavily or in risky situations, and of steps they can take to reduce their risk. No matter how you drink now, there are incremental steps you can take to reduce your risk. Changing your drinking does not have to be all-or-nothing.

Options to help you moderate your drinking, and limit its unwanted negative effects include:

  • Set limits on how many drinks to consume per day and per week.
  • Slow down your rate of consumption. Drink fewer drinks per hour.
  • Drink less concentrated (lower proof) beverages, to slow your rate of intoxication.
  • Keep a written log of when and how much you drink.
  • Take days off from drinking.
  • When drinking, alternate alcoholic with non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Eat food before and during drinking.
  • Avoid drinking under circumstances (consider with whom, where, and when) that tend to lead to drinking more heavily than you feel is healthy for you.
  • Plan your transportation ahead of time so that the driver is sober.
  • Drink with people who drink in ways you consider healthy.
  • Plan and fill your time with activities that are incompatible with drinking.
  • Limit the amount of money you take to your place of drinking, and the amount of alcohol at home.
  • Plan ahead to leave at a certain time, or after a certain number of drinks.
  • Plan ahead how to decline an offer of a first drink, or another drink.
  • Consider conducting an abstinence experiment. Sometimes a trial of abstinence can help make room for clearer decisions. You might set a goal not to drink for a set time period – maybe it’s a day, a week, a month – and evaluate how you are doing without alcohol. Do you feel better? Do you miss it? How are your sleep, appetite, relationship, and work, now that you’ve taken a break? Note: If you have been drinking heavily, daily, check with your medical provider before making any abrupt change in your alcohol consumption, as there could be medical complications.
  • Consider attending a self-help/peer support meeting.