Tips to cut down on drinking

USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

If you are drinking too much, you can improve your life and health by cutting down. How do you know if you drink too much?

Read these questions and answer “yes” or “no”:

• Do you drink alone when you feel angry or sad?
• Does your drinking ever make you late for work?
• Does your drinking worry your family?
• Do you ever drink after telling yourself you won’t?
• Do you ever forget what you did while you were drinking?
• Do you get headaches or have a hangover after you have been drinking?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have a problem. Check with your doctor to be sure. You can also consult with an ASAP (Army Substance Abuse Program) counselor confidentially too.

Your doctor will be able to tell you whether you should cut down or abstain. If you are showing signs of an alcoholic or have other medical problems, you should not just cut down — you should stop drinking completely. Your doctor will advise you about what is right for you.

If your doctor advises it’s best to cut down on drinking, do the following to help:

Write your reasons for cutting down or stopping
Be better with your family or friends. Make a list of the reasons you want to drink less.

Set a drinking goal
Choose a limit for how much you will drink. You may choose to cut down or not to drink at all.

Keep these limits in mind:

• Women should have no more than one drink a day.
• Men should limit themselves to no more than two drinks a day.
• A drink is a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor.

These limits may be too high for some people who have certain medical problems or who are older. Talk with your doctor about the limit that is right for you. Write your drinking goal on a piece of paper. Put it where you can see it, such as on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.

Keep a drinking diary
To help you reach your goal, keep a drinking diary. Write down every time you have a drink for one week. Try to keep your diary for three or four weeks. This will show you how much you drink and when. You may be surprised.

Most people do not cut down or give up drinking all at once. Just like a diet, it is not easy to change.

That is OK. If you do not reach your goal the first time, try again. Remember, get support from people who care about you and want to help.


Watch it at home. Keep a small amount of alcohol, or none at all, at home. Don’t keep temptations around.

Drink slowly, and with food. When you drink, sip your drink slowly. Take a break of one hour between drinks. Drink soda, water or juice after a drink with alcohol. Do not drink on an empty stomach. Eat food when you are drinking.

Take a break from alcohol. Pick a day or two each week when you will not drink at all. Then, try to stop drinking for one week. Think about how you feel physically and emotionally on these days. When you succeed and feel better, you may find it easier to cut down for good.

Learn how to say no. You do not have to drink when other people drink. You do not have to take a drink that is given to you. Practice ways to say no politely. For example, you can tell people you feel better when you drink less. Stay away from people who give you a hard time about not drinking.

Stay active. What would you like to do instead of drinking? Use the time and money spent on drinking to do something fun with your family or friends. Go out to eat, see a movie, participate in sports or play a game.

Get support. Cutting down on your drinking may be difficult at times. Ask your family and friends to help you reach your goal. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble cutting down. Get the support you need.

Watch out for temptations. Stay away from people or places that tempt you to drink, even if you do not want to. This may include people who drink a lot or bars where you used to go. Plan ahead of time what you will do to avoid drinking when you are tempted.

Do not drink when you are angry, upset or having a bad day. These are habits you need to break if you want to drink less.

The U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program offers substance abuse prevention education, treatment and rehabilitation, and employee assistance program counseling. For more information, contact DSN: 431-2530/civ. 07031- 15-2530/2835.