Tips for cutting down or quitting alcohol

If you’re worried about your drinking and want to make some positive changes, we’re here to help. Cutting down or quitting alcohol can help you to be happier, safer and healthier. Here are some steps you can take.

There are lots of reasons you might want to take a look at your drinking habits, and you don’t have to be drinking every day for it to be an issue. Someone might have told you they’re concerned, or you might find it hard to stop drinking once you’ve started, for example.

You might have noticed that your drinking is affecting your health, your mood, how you’re doing at work, or your personal relationships.

Whatever your reason is, changing your drinking habits can have a big impact on everything from your relationships to how well you sleep. It can be hard to take that first step, but making changes can help you to be happier and healthier.

Things to think about before you start

Have a think about the goal you want to achieve. Quitting alcohol completely can seem like a big step, but it could be the change of direction you need. Cutting down your drinking is also a positive goal, and it can even be the first step to quitting entirely.

If you’re ready to address your drinking, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. It’s much easier to make positive changes when you’ve got help and support from other people.

You could:

  • Speak to your doctor about your worries, and your plan to address your drinking. They’ll be able to give you advice and useful information.
  • Tell your family and friends. If they know that you’re trying to change your drinking habits, they can encourage and support you.
  • Find your nearest alcohol service. You can search for your nearest Change Grow Live alcohol service and look at treatment options further down the page.
  • Join a peer support group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

If you are drinking alcohol every day and notice unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you are not drinking, please do not stop drinking suddenly. This can cause extremely harmful withdrawal symptoms. It’s important you make contact with your local treatment service to arrange a safe, medically supervised detox.

Find your local service
Alcohol treatment options

How can I cut down my drinking?

Once you’ve made your decision, try these steps to address your drinking:

  • Start a drink diary. Write down how much you’re drinking, to help you keep track. Also keep a note of where you’re drinking, and who you're drinking with. This will help you to understand your habits.
  • Set yourself a limit, and stick to it.
  • Have at least three alcohol-free days each week.
  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Always have something to eat first.
  • Have a non-alcoholic drink, like water or a soft drink, between each alcoholic one.
  • Stick to lower alcohol drinks, and drink slower.
  • Try changing your social habits – pick a new hobby to focus on, or organise to go out and do things that don’t involve drinking.
  • If you start having cravings, distract yourself for a few minutes. Mindfulness or meditation apps and videos like this one are good distractions.
  • Have a look at the NHS’s ‘5 steps to mental wellbeing’. They could help you feel calmer and more relaxed when you find yourself wanting a drink.

You can also look at the websites, apps and support groups below for more support.

Useful websites and apps

drinkaware website screenshot

Drinkaware

Information, advice and tools to help people understand alcohol and make better choices.
Visit the site
al anon website preview

Al-Anon

Support groups for families and friends of people with an alcohol addiction.
Visit the site
aa website preview

Alcoholics Anonymous

Regular support groups all over the country for people with an addiction to alcohol.
Visit the site
breaking free online preview

Breaking Free Online

Free, online treatment and recovery program for anyone addicted to alcohol or drugs. Speak to any member of staff or volunteer at your local service to get access.
Visit the site
Download the app from
  • Download from the app store
  • Download from google play
aa 12 steps app screenshot in a phone

AA 12 Steps app

Companion app for AA’s 12 step programme.
Download the app from
  • Download from the app store
  • Download from google play
smart recovery website preview

SMART Recovery

Self-help recovery programmes that include help with alcohol and drug addiction.
Visit the site
drinks meter app screenshot

Drinks Meter app

Keep track of your drinking and get instant feedback and advice.
Download the app from
  • Download from the app store
  • Download from google play
sober grid app screenshot in a phone

Sober Grid app

Connect and chat anonymously with other people in recovery from around the world.
Download the app from
  • Download from the app store
  • Download from google play
happify app screenshot in a phone

Happify app

Activities and games to help reduce stress and improve your mental health.
Download the app from
  • Download from the app store
  • Download from google play
The apps above are produced and owned by third parties. We make no guarantees that the information within them is accurate or up to date. Please get professional healthcare advice before taking any action.