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NHS - Tips on cutting down on alcohol

If you reguarly drink more than 14 units a week, try these simple tips to help you cut down. Fourteen units is equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.

What should I do?

If you want to cut down on your alcohol you should:

  • Make a plan - Before you start drinking, set a limit on how much you are going to drink.
  • Set a budget - Only take a fixed amount of money to spend on alcohol.
  • Let your friends and family know - Tell them you are cutting down and it's important to you, you could get support from them.
  • Take it a day at a time - Cut back a little each day. That way every day you do is a success.
  • Drink smaller sizes - You can still enjoy a drink, just reduce the size such as, having bottled beer instead of pints, or a small glass of wine instead of a large one.
  • Have lower strength drinks - Cut down the alcohol by swapping strong beers or wines for ones with lower strength (ABV in %), you can find this information on the bottle.
  • Stay hydrated - Have a glass of water before you have alcohol and alternate alcholic drinks with water or a soft drink.
  • Take a break - Have several drink free days each week.

What are the immediate benefits?

The immediate effects of cutting down on your alcohol include:

  • Feeling better in the mornings.
  • Being less tired during the day.
  • Your skin may start to look better.
  • You will start to feel fitter.
  • You may stop gaining weight.

What are the long term benefits?

The long term benefits of cutting down on alcohol include:

  • Your mood - There's a strong link between heavy drinking and depression, hangovers often make you feel anxious and low. If you already feel anxious or sad, drinking can make this worse.
  • Better sleep - Drinking can affect your sleep, although it can help some people fall asleep quickly, it can disrupt your sleep patterns and stop you sleeping deeply. Cutting down on drinking should help you feel more rested when you wake up.
  • Improve behaviour - Drinking can affect your judgement and behaviour, you may behave irrationally or agressively when drunk. Memory loss can be a problem during drinking and in the long term for regular heavy drinkers.
  • Improve your heart - Long term heavy drinking can lead to your heart becoming enlarged. This is a serious condition that can't be completely reversed, but stopping drinking can stop it getting worse.
  • Improve your immune system - Regular drinking can affect your immune system. Heavy drinkers tend to catch more infectious diseases.

Further information

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