How to cut down on alcohol at home
If you drink alcohol at home, cutting the amount you have can be a good way to stick to the low risk drinking guidelines and improve your health.
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Deciding to cut down your drinking is a great way to look after your health. But do you find it hard to keep on top of how much you drink at home?
If so, you aren’t alone – a 2021 Drinkaware survey found more than four out of five people (80%) who drink alcohol in the UK say they drank at home in the last week.1
There are some easy, practical steps you can take to achieve your goal of drinking less at home. Read on to find out more, as well as the benefits you can expect.
Cutting back on alcohol can be a good way to save money, improve your relationships and get positive effects for the way you look and feel. Within a few days, you could have better sleep, a brighter mood, more energy, and – at the same time – reduce your longer-term risk of serious illnesses including seven types of cancer, and liver and heart disease.
If you choose to drink alcohol, to keep health risks low the UK’s Chief Medical Officers advise it’s safest to drink no more than 14 units a week, spread over three or more days with several drink-free days - and no bingeing. 14 units is equivalent to six pints of average strength lager (4% ABV), or six medium glasses of wine (175ml, 12% ABV). That’s the limit advised for a week.
Use our online self-assessment to check whether your current drinking is putting your health at risk. It’s free and confidential, and only takes a couple of minutes.
Because alcoholic drinks come in different strengths and sizes, units are a way to tell how strong a particular drink is, which can also help you to make comparisons. You can get all the info on alcohol units here – or use our Alcohol and calorie calculator to see how what you drink adds up.
If you pour a large glass of wine, that means you’re having 250ml. Typically, a large glass of wine will contain at least three units of alcohol in a single drink. Switching to a smaller glass, drinking more slowly and alternating with water could help you cut your overall consumption. The same tactic would work if you swapped to a smaller bottle of beer too.
Once you’ve got started, our free MyDrinkaware app is a great way to track your consumption, calculate units and calories, get reminders for planning drink-free days, and celebrate your achievements as you progress towards your goals.
Try to get out of the habit of automatically re-stocking alcohol you have in your home, and keep any drinks you have out of view. Just storing it in a different cupboard instead of an open shelf can help. If you usually drink chilled wine or beer, don’t keep it chilling in the fridge - put it in just before you actually want it instead.
If you choose to drink, decide in advance how much you intend to drink each week and stick to it. If you have a regular online shop, be sure to edit your order rather than just reordering the same items from previous weeks. Be wary of any special offers too – if you buy more than usual, avoid drinking it more quickly.
It’s so easy to underestimate how much is in an individual drink if you’re pouring it at home. If you choose to have a drink, measure it out with a unit measuring cup – you can buy one from the Drinkaware shop.
Make sure you drink plenty of non-alcoholic drinks throughout the day. This will stop you using alcohol as a way to quench your thirst. When you feel like having an alcoholic drink at home, start with a glass of water, soft drink or one of your alcohol-free options instead – you might find you don’t fancy an alcoholic drink after all.
Always aim to have several drink-free days every week where you don’t drink alcohol at all. Start with what you feel is realistic, and gradually increase it. And if you do drink alcohol, remember to have 14 units or less in a full week, spread your drinking over three or more days and have regular drink-free days.
The earlier in the day you start drinking, the more you’re likely to drink in total. If it’s a day that you’re planning to have a drink, set yourself a time that’s later than normal, and don’t drink until that specific event, for example with your dinner.
Thinking about your drinking triggers can help you plan ahead to combat them. If you normally reach for a beer while you’re watching TV, make sure you have some alcohol-free drinks and tasty snacks at the ready instead.
Stick with it! More than 40% of our daily behaviours are determined by habits.2 That means building new, healthier ones is a process – and it also means it’s something that anyone can achieve.
Change can be hard at first. But by recognising the cues you associate with drinking at home (whether it’s getting back home, putting the kids to bed, or a certain day of the week) and rewarding yourself with an alcohol-free activity you enjoy instead, you will be tapping in to the power of human psychology to make a positive change.
With a bit of initial effort and focus you should find that, over time, your new habits become more ingrained and subconscious3 - making them second nature.
Wherever you are on your journey towards drinking less, the free MyDrinkaware can help you achieve your goals. Download it now to track your alcohol units, calories and sleep quality side-by-side, with handy notifications and access to expert advice.
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Arming yourself with strategies and tips can help you or a loved one take small steps towards big results.
Last Reviewed: 24th May 2023
Next Review due: 24th May 2026
 Pearson A., & Slater, E. (2021, October). Drinking through the pandemic. Drinkaware Monitor 2021. PS Research and Drinkaware. https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/media/c5fjnwjo/drinkaware-monitor-2021-research-report-final.pdf
 Neal, D. T., Wood, W., Labrecque, J. S. and Lally, P. (2012). How do habits guide behavior? Perceived and actual triggers of habits in daily life. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, (2), 492-498.