If you’ve recently noticed that you drink too much, or feel troubled by your drinking habits, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one in six U.S. adults engages in binge drinking1 once a week. Cutting back has many benefits—to your health, your career, and your personal life. Yet, it’s not always as easy as it sounds.
Self-control is an important part of life in general. We all build and develop our character as we learn to control our behavior. Achieving this self-control can be tricky, however—especially when it comes to alcohol.
5 Tips to Control Your Drinking
Quitting drinking cold turkey is not for everybody, and not everyone who binge drinks qualifies as addicted to alcohol. Instead of abstinence, some people are able to learn healthier habits around alcohol, and still drink sometimes. Here are five techniques that can help you exercise alcohol self-control.
1. Evaluate How Much You Drink
The most straightforward way to figure out if your drinking is problematic is to know how much you drink. Try keeping a drinking diary for one week. Every evening, or in the morning, jot down how much you drank, when, where, and with whom. You can also note if your drinking led to any issues, such as fighting or blacking out. This practice will give you a better idea of whether your drinking has become excessive or problematic.
2. Assess Why You Drink
Pay attention to the thoughts or feelings that spur you to drink. Many people use alcohol to numb, dull, or block painful emotions. However, it’s rarely healthy to drink away emotional pain. If you consume alcohol when you’re sad, worried, lonely, or depressed, you may be using it as an emotional crutch.
3. Set Limits
Pick an amount of alcohol that you won’t go over and stick to it. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) describes low-risk drinking2 for women as no more than three drinks in one day, and a maximum of seven drinks per week. For men, it’s up to four drinks per day, and 14 total per week. Whether you want to use these parameters, or you’ve got another amount in mind, there are plenty of techniques you can use to stick to your limit:
- Stopping at the buzz: This means you stop drinking when you start to feel buzzed or tipsy. Problematic behaviors usually occur when you continue drinking past this point.
- Four coins: Keep four coins in your pocket, or as many coins as the number of drinks you’re planning to have that night. Each time you have a drink, move a coin to another pocket. Once you run out, you know you’ve reached your predetermined limit.
- One drink per hour: Having only one drink per hour is another way to limit yourself, and will most likely keep your blood alcohol content at a reasonably safe level.
4. Avoid Hard Alcohol
Whether it’s sticking to beer (which has a lower ethanol content, plus carbonation that makes you feel full), or switching to non-alcoholic drinks every once in a while to slow down, it’s best to find ways to avoid or limit hard alcohol if you’re trying to control your drinking.
5. Find Professional Help
If you’ve decided that moderation is the best way for you, help is available. At Ria Health, we believe that abstinence is not the only way to control your drinking. Instead, our modern, evidence-based approach offers online support to help you gradually reduce how much you drink. Our program lets you meet with a recovery coach over the internet once a week, and keep track of your drinking habits via the Ria app. Medications may also be used to help you drink more moderately.
Ria is a more practical alcohol treatment program that can help you cut down on your drinking. Learn how it works. Or, if you’re ready to dive in, schedule a call with a friendly member of the Ria Health team.