As more and more restrictions are removed, we can look back on how much of our world was turned upside-down during the pandemic. Lockdowns, working from home, atypical school schedules… it was a lot to deal with. It’s no surprise that during the pandemic, alcohol sales increased 54% compared to the year prior, and online sales increased a whopping 262% from 2019. Women in particular had 41% more heavy drinking days compared to pre-pandemic times.
A lot of people recognize that it may have gone too far, and are wanting to cut back on alcohol use now. Some people may want to experiment with a dry month, while others want to cut alcohol from their lives completely.
Here, we’ll cover some tips for reducing your alcohol consumption.
If you are or suspect you are addicted to alcohol, call your primary care doctor or SAMSHA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for real addiction help. This article will offer tips to cut back on drinking, but is no substitute for a full addiction recovery plan.
Identify reasons why you drink
You might have reasons why you drink that have nothing to do with a buzz.
For the social aspect
Your reason for drinking might be that it’s what you do with your social circle when you’re together. Nothing wrong with that, but if you want to cut back or cut it out completely, you might want to take a different approach with your friends. More on social situations, coming up.
For the experience of fancy cocktails
You may enjoy the artistic and culinary aspects of crafting the perfect beverage. You may enjoy a fancy sip as a nightcap after a romantic date with your spouse. If that’s the case, there’s no need to give up your fancy bevs. Grab the recipes for mocktails (above) and keep on mixing, no liquor necessary.
As an escape
If you’re using alcohol to run away from something, drinking is the symptom, not the root of the problem. In this case, professional guidance is in order. You can go to your primary doctor for referrals to therapists if there’s something difficult you’re dealing with in your life, or for an alcohol cessation plan if you’re creeping into addiction territory. Or, you can call SAMSHA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for direction.
Evaluate your social situations
Before you attend social situations, try to anticipate whether your decision not to drink will be challenged, either by your friends or your surroundings.
- Do you and your friends always order mimosas at brunch? If you can picture yourself ordering a juice with ease, go ahead and attend. If you expect discomfort or if you think your friends will give you a hard time, you might want to suggest a lunch or coffee date instead.
- Going to a backyard picnic? Bring along your own non-alcoholic beverages, or carry your own drink in a tumbler from home. No one needs to know what’s inside. A lot of the time, hosts aren’t pressuring you to drink – they just want to be hospitable. If you have something you’re sipping on, they’ll get the message that your beverage needs are covered and start offering you appetizers instead.
- Do you want to host a gathering at home? Sometimes making it earlier in the day takes the pressure off to offer booze. Instead, you can mix up fancy mocktails to brighten up your afternoon festivities.
- Are you meeting up at a bar? If you expect it will be uncomfortable for you to say no to cocktails at a place where alcohol is the focal point, you’re probably right. Might want to skip it that night and catch up with your friends another time.
While it’s not fun to think about making new friends, it may be time to consider adding people to your social circle who don’t emphasize drinking. You can join groups based on healthy activities, like hiking or biking organizations, or consciously spend more time with your health-nut friends. They say you’re an average of the five people you spend the most time with, so take a look at your peers and decide what kind of person you want to be.
Have you tried water with Lemon Liquid Monk Fruit Extract? It’s a refreshing way to get a little extra hydration in. A drop or two is all you need!
Find fun alternatives
Not drinking doesn’t mean you’re saying no to fun. You can go through the whole ritual of getting out a pretty glass, stacking it with ice, and shaking up your favorite cocktail complete with pretty fruit garnishes. There’s a good chance you weren’t even in it for the psychological effects, and you won’t miss the shot of this or a spike of that.
A few of our favorite mocktails:
Don’t buy alcohol
If you don’t bring alcohol into your house, you only have to be strong at the grocery store. If your state doesn’t allow alcohol sales at the grocery store, it’s even easier – you only have to decide not to go to stores where alcohol is sold.
If it’s in your house, you may have to tell yourself “no” several times a day. That can get exhausting, plus there’s no guarantee you’ll be successful every time.
Not having it in your house is a big step, but there’s more to it than that.
Prepare a simple refusal
First, let’s get one thing clear: you don’t have to explain yourself when you choose not to drink. Still, drinking is so normalized and expected that it’s possible you’ll get a question or two.
It’s a good idea to have a response ready, but there’s no need to make a big deal of it. Keep it simple and move onto another topic.
I’m not having any today, thanks. I love what you’ve done with the landscaping!
I’m giving my body a break from drinks. Have you tried the eggs benedict here?
I’m all set with my water, thanks. Your little guy grew so much since last time I saw him!
I’m doing a “dry month” experiment. Three weeks to go!
Rarely, you’ll get more questions. Simply repeat your party line, and you don’t need to explain your choice. Throw in a “next time I’ll try it” if you want to reassure them that your choices aren’t judging theirs.