12 ways to drink less

People often decide it's time to drink less. This usually happens after you realise this is the second time in a week that you have a hangover, or family members complain about your drinking.

If your problem is serious, it may be an idea to seek professional help, but if you merely want to cut down, instead of cutting it out completely, there is a lot you can do to limit your alcoholic intake.

Drinking is often a social activity and often the pressure is on to drink with others. Unless you go completely teetotal, it often happens that you stagger from a party at the end of the evening, having had three too many, despite your resolutions - and hating yourself for it.

So what can you do to cut down on your drinking?

Don't do the rounds. Go out with your friends, by all means, possibly even pay for the first round, but don't drink round for round with them. That means that the amount you drink will depend on how much the others are drinking. Say something about an important early-morning meeting and don't let yourself be bullied.

Always have a drink handy. Get one drink and nurse it all evening. When someone offers you another, point at your half-full glass and say something like, "When I've finished this one". Point blank outright refusal and expressed intention to have only one, will possibly result in others putting pressure on you to have another one.

Stay out of the spotlight. Don't draw attention to yourself by either refusing loudly to have even one drink, or by loudly shouting in an order for an orange juice. Get a drink, preferably a large one, like a beer, and put it down on front of you and nurse it all evening. People will register that you have a drink, not that it's been the same one all evening.

If you can't join them, trick them. Drinks like lime and soda, or tonic without the gin, both look like alcoholic beverages, but aren't. Have several of these. Everyone will think you're drinking with them.

Accept invitations with a non-drinking proviso. If you're on medication, such as antihistamines or antibiotics, you should not drink at all. You don't have to turn down an invitation, because of this, but do tell people in advance that you are not allowed to drink anything for a few days. People probably won't bug you.

Drink low alcohol drinks. There are light beers on the market. You can also mix white wine with soda and have a spritzer. In this way you can have a drink in your hand all evening, without consuming more than the alcoholic equivalent of one glass of wine.

Ice is nice. Put lots of ice in your drink –essentially this waters it down and you can linger over it longer.

Pop the peanuts. Line your stomach with bar snacks, like pretzels or peanuts or chips. The emptier your stomach, the more immediate will be the effect of your alcoholic consumption. Alcohol and aspirin are the only two substances absorbed into the system directly through the stomach lining.

Water, water everywhere. Drink two glasses of water before you go, so that you don't find yourself downing two beers because you are thirsty. And anyway, as it is alcohol dehydrates you . Drinking a glass of water in between drinks is also a good idea and gives your liver a bit of a break.

Eat out rather than go to the pub. If you want to socialise with friends, it may be an idea to go out for a meal rather than going to a pub.

Singles, not doubles. Order single drinks, not doubles. A double tot of anything already puts you over the legal limit for driving. Two doubles, and most people will be fairly far gone.

Limit your spending money.Take a limited amount of money with you instead of a couple of hundred rands. If you have only R60 or R70 with you, it limits the amount you can drink quite effectively. – (Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated October 2010)

Read more:
The 6 stages of drunkenness
Booze-free ways to destress
Kilojoule bomb in your beverages

Questions? Ask our Addictions Expert

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