If you experience one of the following, you may need help:

You may need alcohol support and reduction tips if:

  • You often feel the need to have a drink
  • You get into trouble because of your drinking
  • Other people warn you about how much you’re drinking
  • You think your drinking is causing you problems

Acknowledging that you need support for your drinking is the first big step to getting help.

Speaking to your GP is the best port of call in the first instance and it is important to be honest about how much you drink and any problems it may be causing you.

If you have become dependent on alcohol, you will have found it difficult to fully control your drinking in some way which means you will need some help either to cut down and control your drinking or stop completely.  You’ll also need a plan to maintain ongoing improvement after that.

Your GP will be able to suggest different types of assessment and support options available to you. Your GP should also be able to advise about free local support groups and other alcohol counselling that may suit you.

Stopping drinking overnight might be harmful and it is important to seek medical advice, particularly if you have become physically dependent on alcohol.  You will also need to seek advice about doing this safely if you are on any medication.

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms is a normal response and you may experience:

  • Anxiety after waking
  • Sweating and tremors
  • Nausea or retching in the morning
  • Vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures or fits

The benefits of cutting down on alcohol:

Better Mood

There’s a strong correlation between heavy drinking and depression. If you already feel anxious or sad, drinking can make this worse, so cutting down will put you in a better mood. Drinking can also affect your judgement and behaviour. You may behave irrationally or aggressively when you’re drunk. Memory loss can also occur due to heavy drinking.

Better Sleep

Drinking can affect your sleep. Although it can help some people fall asleep quickly, it prevents deep sleep and also disrupts sleeping patterns, so cutting down on alcohol should help you feel more rested when you wake up.

Physical Health Improvements

Regular drinking can affect your body’s ability to fight infections. Heavy drinkers tend to catch more infectious diseases. Evidence also suggests that heavy drinking can lead to an enlarged heart.  This is a serious condition that cannot be completely reversed but stopping drinking can stop it getting worse.

Tips for cutting down on alcohol:

If you regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week, try these simple tips to help you cut down.

Fourteen units are equivalent to 6 pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.

Make a plan

Before you start drinking, set a limit on how much you’re going to drink.

Set a budget

Only take a fixed amount of money to spend on alcohol.

Let them know

Let your friends and family know you’re cutting down so that they can also encourage and support you.

Take it a day at a time

Cut back a little each day. That way, every day you do is a success.

Make it a smaller one

Go for smaller sizes. Try bottled beer instead of pints, or a small glass of wine instead of a large one.

Have a lower-strength drink

Cut down the alcohol by swapping strong beers or wines for ones with a lower strength (ABV in %). You’ll find this information on the bottle.

Stay hydrated

Have a glass of water before you have alcohol and alternate alcoholic drinks with water or other non-alcoholic drinks.

Take a break

Have several drink-free days each week.

Useful contacts for alcohol problems

  • Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, you can call this free helpline in complete confidence. Call 0300 123 1110 (Weekdays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Weekends 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a free self-help group. Its 12 step programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups.
  • Al-Anon Family Groups offers support and understanding to the families and friends of problem drinkers, whether they’re still drinking or not. Alateen is part of Al-Anon and can be attended by 12- to 17-year-olds who are affected by another person’s drinking, usually a parent.
  • We Are With You is a UK-wide treatment agency that helps individuals, families, and communities manage the effects of drug and alcohol misuse.
  • Adfam is a national charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol. Adfam operates an online message board and a database of local support groups.
  • The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa) provides a free, confidential telephone and email helpline for children of alcohol-dependent parents and others concerned about their welfare. Call 0800 358 3456 for the Nacoa helpline.
  • SMART Recovery groups help people decide whether they have a problem, build up their motivation to change, and offer a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery.