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5 ways to reduce alcohol without losing your social life

5 simple steps to reducing your alcohol consumption!

A woman smiles as she pours water into glasses for her friends
A woman smiles as she pours water into glasses for her friends

Across the country, thousands of Aussies are parking their pinot and benching their beers in return for an order of lemonade as part of Dry July or Ocsober, but reducing your alcohol intake doesn’t mean you automatically have to sign up to become a social recluse.

Although it’s great to go totally sober, it’s also important to consider your long-term relationship with alcohol – instead of giving up the G&Ts for a month, then celebrating by getting wasted, it might be a better idea to train yourself to be able to have a night out on the town without the need for copious cocktails.

We spoke with the team from nib foundation partner Hello Sunday Morning – an online community that aims to show Aussies how to get a better understanding of their drinking habits and learn to love hangover-free Sundays. Here are their top tips for reducing your alcohol intake while still being social.

A young woman smiles as she holds up a glass of water

1. Set goals and monitor your drinking

Ask yourself how much you would like to be drinking and what a reasonable amount to aim for would be? Consider the situations in which you might want to drink less and the situations where no change is needed. For example, maybe the glass of red over dinner with the in-laws is OK (necessary even?), but the seven beers you down with the boys on a Saturday night could probably be reduced.

Keeping track of how much you drink by taking a note on your phone over the next week will help you realise what kind of role alcohol currently plays in your life. Maybe you can make a commitment to reduce those seven beers to three by the end of the month!

2. Replace, don’t necessarily remove

Next time you’re at an event, practise ordering alternatives like a soda water with lime or a mocktail. This will help you get more comfortable ordering non-alcoholic drinks and subsequently help you to stick to your goals.

Many of us are guilty of turning alcohol into a reward or a treat for ourselves. So, if you find yourself making a habit of pouring a glass of sauvignon blanc or beer every evening when you arrive home, start creating a new habit to look forward to - run a bath, go for a walk or catch up on your favourite show on Netflix.

Create new habits to look forward to - run a bath, take a walk or catch up on some Netflix

3. What’s the ‘culture’ like in your friendship group?

Often one of the hardest parts of cutting back or giving up alcohol is explaining it to your mates, especially if your friendship group has a big drinking culture. It can be easier if you’ve got an excuse like Dry July, Ocsober or February Fasting, but after the month ends you might struggle.

4. Look into the past

Think back to events that you haven’t felt the need to drink and consider what helped you get through that situation. Is it knowing you have a limit (for example, are you designated driver?), or is it situations where you’ve eaten a big meal beforehand or maybe you’re surrounded by people who aren’t big drinkers?

Use these past situations to learn what works for you and try and replicate it them in the future. Similarly, consider the situations in which you end up drinking more than you’d like – can you pinpoint why?

5. Be ready for long-term change

The reality is that until you are ready to change, you probably won’t stop or cut down your drinking, especially if you’ve become alcohol dependent. One of the ways to check whether you’re ready is to create a decisional balance sheet; this fancy sounding name is simply a checklist of reasons for changing vs a checklist of reasons for you to continue drinking. It’s really important to have more reasons for change than against, as this can often kick-start you into action.

For more on the partnership with Hello Sunday Morning, visit the nib foundation website. If you’d like extra support to help you change, check out Hello Sunday Mornings’ mobile behaviour change program, Daybreak.