Control Your Alcohol Drinking: How to Drink in Moderation

You really can control your alcohol drinking. A popular myth is that if you have a drinking problem, you have to abstain from alcohol. But that simply isn’t true

Most people who have a drinking problem are not alcoholic. But even many alcoholics can learn to drink in moderation. For example, federal government did nation-wide research. It found that 17.7% of alcoholics in the country are now drinking in moderation. Very few ever received any treatment. That is, they learned on their own.

I. Drink More than You Want?

Perhaps you’re drinking more than you would like. Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Do you drink alone when you’re sad or angry?
  • Does your drinking ever make you late for work or school?
  • Do you ever drink after telling yourself you won’t?
  • Does your drinking worry your family or friends?
  • Have you ever forgotten what you did while drinking?
  • Do you ever get headaches or hangovers after drinking?
  • Have you started hanging out with friends who are heavy drinkers?
  • Do you feel a sense of power when drinking?
  • Have you ever had legal problems because of your drinking?
  • Do you ever borrow money or do without things to buy alcohol?
  • Is drinking hurting your reputation?
  • Do you ever drink until you run out of your supply?
  • Have you ever lost friends because of your drinking?
  • Do you think you might have a drinking problem?

The more of these questions that apply, the greater the chance you have a drinking problem. However, remember that doesn’t mean you’re alcoholic. Nor does it mean that you need to abstain from alcohol.

Only you can decide if you should cut back. In any case, you can control your alcohol consumption!

II. How to Cut Back

Government Suggestion

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) suggests the following to help if you choose to control your alcohol drinking.

  1. Write down in a list your reasons for cutting back. Perhaps you want to get along better with your family or friends. Or to improve your health. Maybe it’s to do better in school. Or even to save your job. This will be a very personal list.
  2. Set a drinking goal. That is, choose a specific goal to limit your drinking. A common goal for men is to have no more than four drinks on any one day. And with a total of 14 drinks per week. For women, it’s no more than three drinks in any one day. And with a total of seven drinks per week. But you must decide your own goal.
  3. Keep a record or diary of your drinking. This is a great motivator. It also helps you identify what people or events cause you to want to drink more.

Keep Your Alcohol Level Down

  • help a problem drinkerDon’t be fooled. Standard drinks of beer, wine, and spirit (liquor) have the same amount of pure alcohol. So switching forms of alcohol is useless.
  • Eat while drinking. This  helps keep your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) down.
  • Sip your drinks.
  • Don’t play drinking games. Nor try to “keep up” with the drinking of others.
  • Have a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic ones.
  • Pace your drinks. A common  rule of thumb is no more than one alcoholic drink per hour.
  • Accept an alcoholic drink only when it fits your consumption schedule.
  • Stick with standard drink sizes. That makes it easier to keep track of your intake of pure alcohol.
  • Follow medical advice about drinking with any medications you are taking.

III. Help is Available

Free Help

HAMS stands for Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support. HAMS harm reduction is effective in reducing alcohol problems. Learn more about HAMS.

Moderation Management is a behavioral change program and support group network. It’s for people who want to reduce their drinking. You can discover more about Moderation Management.

SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training). This is an alcohol recovery support group network. It has both face-to-face group meetings and daily on-line meetings. Learn more about SMART Recovery.

Low Cost Help

Dr. Stanton Peele’s Life Process Program is used in residential treatment centers with a consistent success rate of over 65%. Because of its success, he has adapted it for home use. Discover more about the Life Process Program.

IV. Resources: Control Your Alcohol Drinking

Web Pages

How to Drink in Moderation  

Alcohol Self-Help Groups 

Alcoholism Self-Help Information & Resources

Readings

control your alcohol

How to Change Your Drinking. Anderson, K. NY: HAMS, 2010.

Miller, W. & Munoz, R. Controlling Your Drinking: Tools to Make Moderation Work for You. New York: Guilford, 2013.

NIAAA. Tips for Cutting Down on Drinking. Bethesda, MD: NIAAA, 2008.

Responsible Drinking. Rotgers, F. et al. Oakland: New Harbinger, 2002. 

control your alcoholSpada, M. Overcoming Problem Drinking: a Self-Help Guide. London: Constable, 2006.

Spada, M. An Introduction to Sensible Drinking. London: Robinson, 2017.

Turner, C. Practicing Alcohol Moderation. New York: Routledge, 2020.

Note

This website is information only about how to reduce your alcohol drinking. Thus, it makes no suggestions.