How To Reduce Your Alcohol Intake

As we exit the recent COVID pandemic and seemingly look towards normality, some people may wish to change habits that have developed over the past couple of years. One of these habits could be an increase in alcohol consumption. This guide looks at the benefits you could experience if you reduce your alcohol intake and some advice on ways you can reduce your alcohol consumption.

Know Your Units

How Many Units Should You Have?

To keep health risks from alcohol to a reasonable level, you should stick to:

  • No more than 14 units a week
  • Spreading the days you drink to 3 or more days, rather than binge drinking 
  • Having alcohol-free days

How do I work out how many units are in a drink?

Units are measured in alcohol by volume (ABV). ABV is a measure of the amount of pure alcohol as a percentage of the total volume of liquid in a drink. 

On most drinks, the ABV is written on the labels and you should use this to know about the strength of a drink (e.g. a 12% ABV bottle of wine has 12% of pure alcohol in that drink).

If your drink doesn’t say the number of units on the label then you can work it by doing the following sum:

Strength (ABV) x Volume (ml) ÷ 1,000 = units

So for example, if you had a pint of lager that has 5% ABV then you would do:

5% x 568ml ÷ 1000 = 2.84 units

How many units are in my drink?

Type of Drink

Number of Units

Single small shot of spirits* (25ml, 40% ABV)

1 Unit

Single large shot of spirits* (35ml, 40% ABV)

1.4 Units

Alcopop (275ml, 5% ABV)

1.5 Units

Small glass of red/white/rose (125ml, 12% ABV)

1.5 Units

Bottle of lager/beer/cider (330ml, 5% ABV)

1.7 Units

Pint of lower-strength lager/beer/cider (568ml, 3.6%)

2 Units

A standard glass of red/white/rose wine (175ml, 12% ABV)

2.1 Units

Can of lager/beer/cider (440ml, 5.5% ABV)

2.4 Units

Pint of higher-strength lager/beer/cider (568ml, 5.2% ABV)

3 Units

Large glass of red/white/rose wine (250ml, 12% ABV)

3 Units

*Shots of spirit include gin, rum, vodka, whisky, tequila, and sambuca. Source: NHS

Benefits of Reducing Your Alcohol Intake


When you reduce your drinking, you will obviously have fewer hangovers. This could lead to a better mood across the day and an overall better mental health

Better Sleep

By reducing your alcohol intake and by having alcohol-free days, you can have a much better sleep pattern. On days when you do not have alcohol in your system, you can have a greater quality of sleep by having a much better rapid eye movement (REM) stage of your sleep cycle

Behavioural Changes

Those that reduce their drinking would often notice that they have better judgment and much-improved behaviour. For example, some people may become aggressive and make irrational choices when they are drunk, with heavy drinkers even experiencing memory loss.

A Healthier Heart

By reducing your alcohol intake, you become less likely to suffer heart complications such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and heart attacks. This could lead to better health and improved quality of life.

Stronger Immune System

By reducing your alcohol intake, you can greatly improve your immune system. This means that you are less likely to suffer from contagious illnesses and infections. 

If you would like to learn more about the health benefits you can experience when you stop drinking, then be sure to check out our other blog post here  

How to Reduce Your Alcohol Intake

Make a Plan & Budget

A simple way you can reduce your alcohol intake is by making a plan on how much you are going to drink. By doing this, you are more likely to stick to your limit and stay on top of your drinking. 

In addition, alongside your plan, you can set yourself a budget. This way you can stay on track of what you are spending and work out how many drinks you can afford to have

Let Your Friends & Family Know

If you are planning to reduce your alcohol intake, then you should let your friends and family know about it. This means that you can get support from them. If you are a friend or family member of someone that may be going through a period of heavy drinking, you can access our designated page here.

Take It Day-by-Day

The next thing you can do to reduce your alcohol intake is to not look too far in advance and take every day as it comes. By doing this, you can set yourself simple goals which can be achieved and gradually reduce your alcohol intake. Furthermore, if you were to stop drinking completely over a day, then this could cause health issues, such as alcohol withdrawal. Finally, by taking a day-by-day approach, you can celebrate the small wins and every day you reduce your alcohol intake can be a success.

Have Smaller Drinks That Are Lower Strength

Another way you can reduce your alcohol consumption is by drinking smaller sized drinks. For example, instead of having a large glass of wine, have a small glass. Rather than having a pint of beer, have a small bottle. 

Alternatively, you can reduce the strength of the drink. Instead of having a double spirit and mixer, have a single or have a drink with a lower ABV than what you would usually have. This information can be found on the bottle of the drink

Have Water During Alcohol Drinking Sessions

Another way you can cut down your alcohol is by staying hydrated. A simple way you can do this whilst you drink alcohol is to make sure every other drink you have is non-alcoholic, such as water or other non-alcoholic beverages. This means that you can stay hydrated when you consume alcohol and means you are less likely to wake up dehydrated the next day.

Have Drink Free Days

A final way you can reduce your alcohol intake over the week is by having drink-free days. If you schedule a few of these days per week and do not binge drink on the other days, then you can reduce your overall alcohol consumption.

If You Are Doing Dry January or Sober Spring...

If you are doing one of these challenges, then we have written a useful guide on how you can complete it:

If You Need Further Help

If you feel that you need further help and support as you try to reduce your alcohol consumption, then you may need to do an alcohol home detox. This is where, for a period of 5-7 days, an individual reduces their alcohol levels under medical supervision.

At Alcohol Home Treatment, we provide effective alcohol detox programmes which can be done at home**. We also offer The Sinclair Method. This is a method of treatment which works by taking a pill which blocks opioid receptors in the body, preventing the endorphins released by drinking from binding to them and giving some people a reward for excessive drinking, resulting in a lack of control in those people. If you want more information about any of the treatments we offer, then please contact us today.

** A full medical assessment is carried out to determine whether an alcohol detox at home would be safe and appropriate

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