Worried about how much you're drinking but not sure where to start? We explain more about the benefits of slowing down or reducing how much alcohol you drink, how to start drinking in moderation, and how hypnotherapy can help.
Getting a handle on how much you are drinking doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can be worried about how much alcohol you are consuming, without having to stop drinking altogether. Drinking in moderation can be a great practice in itself or a healthy stepping stone towards reducing your alcohol intake even further.
Nearly 30 million brits drink alcohol each week. That’s over half (57%) of the adult population. Yet one in four (23%) of us regularly drinks more than the recommended 14 units of alcohol per week. For men, that’s nearly one in three (30%).
Thanks to campaigns like Dry January, many are becoming more aware of what they are drinking and questioning how much alcohol feels right for them. In 2020, over a quarter of UK drinkers reduced or stopped drinking alcohol in January. 72% of those who drank less or stopped drinking planned to continue doing so in the long term, according to one study from Drinkaware. More than half (59%) planned to reduce their drinking, while one in 10 (12%) said they would stop drinking altogether.
The benefits of cutting back on alcohol
If you’re thinking about reducing how much you drink, there are a wide variety of benefits. These can include:
Better quality sleep, higher energy levels and improved concentration
When you drink alcohol, you spend less time in deep, restorative sleep stages. You’re also more likely to wake up early and have difficulty falling back asleep. By cutting back, your sleep quality should improve, helping you not only feel more rested but also boosts your mood and concentration levels.
Drinking too much alcohol interferes with the neurotransmitters in your brain meaning, over time, it can make feelings of stress and anxiety even worse. Many people report that drinking less leads to a happier or improved mood.
Studies have shown heavy drinking can be linked with depression. If you find yourself frequently feeling anxious, sad, or low, drinking could be making these feelings even worse. If you’re worried you may be using drinking to cope with how you are feeling, it could be a sign of problem drinking.
Healthier, happier you
Too much alcohol can dehydrate your skin, leaving it grey and dull in appearance. Many alcoholic drinks are high in sugar and calories, acting as hidden contributors to a bigger waistline. Cutting back on just one glass of wine can save 120 to 165 calories, while the average pint can be anywhere from 160 to 208 calories. That’s more calories than a typical full-sugar can of fizzy drink and more than three cans of Red Bull energy drinks.
Alcohol can also contribute to or cause stomach and digestive problems, ranging from heartburn to IBS and even gastritis. Reducing your intake can have fast, positive effects. Cutting down on how much you drink can also help reduce your risk of developing liver and heart disease, as well as seven types of cancer, and lower your blood pressure.
Save money and broaden your horizons
For many, drinking can become a habit rather than a way of actively relaxing or enjoying time with friends. By breaking out of old habits, you can find new hobbies and interests, and meet new people, as you challenge yourself to try new things and break old routines that no longer serve you. This can also result in saving money, as you no longer spend as much money on alcohol, at the pub, bar, or even on your weekly shop.
How to cut back and drink less alcohol
Reducing your alcohol intake can have many benefits. But how do you get started? If you’re unsure of where to begin, try and calculate how much you drink across a typical week. The recommended maximum number of units is around 14 per week. That’s the equivalent of six average-strength pints of beer, or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.
You could try and:
Set (and stick to) limits
Knowing how much you are already drinking can help you to figure out what goals you would like to set and any changes you’d like to make. Whether you find it more difficult to say no to another drink when you’re out and about with mates, or when you find yourself at home with an open bottle, pre-defining your limits before drinking can be a big help.
If you start a night out or evening in without limits in mind, it can be easier to lose track of how much you are drinking. Consciously making the choice to have a set number of drinks, or to only drink for a certain period of time, can help to create a sense of accountability and make you more aware of what you are drinking. You can keep these limits to yourself or share them with others for added support; try whichever makes you feel most comfortable.
Have drink-free days
Designate a set number of days each week which will be alcohol-free. This can help you to form new, positive habits and associations. Over time, this can make it easier to cut back while still giving you room to enjoy drinking when you want to.
Consider smaller or low-strength drinks
Cutting back doesn’t have to mean cutting out. Having half a pint or a bottle instead of a pint, a small glass of wine, or one cocktail instead of two can all help. Switching to lower strength (ABV in %) or alcohol-free alternatives can be another way of getting the same taste and social enjoyment, without the same drawbacks.
Reframe your drinking
Do you drink to socialise, relax and unwind, or as a way to avoid other thoughts and feelings? Figuring out why you drink, and reframing your thoughts around alcohol can help you to get a handle on what and how much you consume.
Working with a hypnotherapist can be particularly helpful, as they can help you to identify the root causes and triggers of any issues that may be affecting how much or how often you drink. They can also help to introduce you to new, healthier coping mechanisms.
Do I have a drinking problem?
Wanting to drink in moderation isn’t necessarily a sign of a drinking problem. People who want to cut down on their alcohol consumption do so for a variety of different reasons. But if you find yourself struggling to cut back, it could be worth asking:
- Am I struggling to go a day without drinking?
- Are most or all of my social activities based around drinking?
- Do I think about alcohol a lot?
- Is it hard to stop once I start drinking?
- Do I need to drink a lot before feeling any effects?
- Could I be experiencing any withdrawal symptoms when I try to cut back for even a day or two?
If you’re worried about your answers or think you could have a drinking problem, visit your GP to find out what options are available in your area. You can also try the free AUDIT (alcohol use disorders identification test), which has been the world’s most widely used alcohol screening test for decades.
Hypnotherapy to drink less
Hypnosis can be a great complementary option to help you start drinking in moderation. Working with a qualified, experienced hypnotherapist, you can:
- Identify any problem thoughts, behaviours, or emotional associations that may be affecting your drinking.
- Deal with underlying emotional issues that may affect how much, when, or why you drink.
- Find new, healthier methods of coping with boredom, stress, or emotional issues which may trigger the desire to drink.
- Help break negative or automatic drinking habits, improve sleep patterns and reduce or remove cravings.
A hypnotherapist can put you into a deep state of relaxation, allowing them to access your unconscious thoughts. This can allow them to introduce you to new habits and patterns, helping reprogramme your drinking habits. Using hypnosis, a hypnotherapist can help you to break bad habits, and build and reinforce new, positive habits to help you make sustainable changes in your life.
It’s important to remember that hypnotherapy isn’t a magic cure-all. You need to approach it with an open mind and be ready to make positive changes in your life.
Your hypnotherapist may suggest using self-hypnosis techniques between sessions to help reinforce new ideas or behaviours. Some hypnotherapists may also teach you mindfulness or meditation techniques to help you focus on your goal of changing your drinking habits. Others may provide recordings for you to listen to between sessions.
Can reducing how much you drink be bad for you?
If you aren’t dependent on alcohol, reducing how much you drink should be healthy and safe. For many, cutting back is easier than trying to go ‘cold turkey’, and still comes with many benefits. If you find yourself struggling to drink less, try different methods to reduce your intake.
If you are worried that you may have a drinking dependence, having alcohol in moderation may be unhelpful, as it can trigger some people to drink more. Try experimenting with more drink-free days, rather than fewer or weaker drinks, to see if this may help. For some people, giving up alcohol entirely may be a safer option.
Does hypnotherapy really work?
Studies have shown that hypnotherapy can help with reducing feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as helping change bad habits. While the overall success rate of hypnotherapy is hard to judge (as there is no ‘standard’ success rate measured), research has shown it being used successfully alongside many other therapeutic approaches for a broad variety of issues.
Are you ready to cut back on your drinking and start making positive, sustainable changes in your life? Use our advanced search to find an experienced, qualified hypnotherapist.