Health

How To Give Up Alcohol Without Actually Giving It Up

Alcohol is a whole thing, isn’t it? In Australia, it seems to just be a part of everyday life. Friday night drinks, afternoon beers, girls nights with wine. If you’re trying to escape it, it can seem quite impossible sometimes. I go alcohol-free for at least one or two months every year and it seems to be getting harder and harder to find non-drinkers to hang out with during my dry times.

I certainly don’t have a drinking problem but I feel much better in general without any alcohol at all in my system and I’ve written about my alcohol abstinence several times. I’ve had a few emails from people who have been wanting to have a month without alcohol but they just don’t seem to have a spot in their calendar where that fits. I totally understand this.

give up alcohol

There would be some tough nut dieticians out there that would tell you to harden up and just do it but I get that some people enjoy drinking and want to find a way to do it in a more healthy and sustainable way. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, so here are a few tricks I use when I’m trying to have an alcohol cleanse but there are just too many events/holidays/weddings to make a month-long cleanse feasible; here’s how to give up alcohol without actually giving it up – perfect for the lead up to Christmas which just feels like one big champagne party.

give up alcohol

1. Have a pre-booked rule

If I want to have a break from alcohol but I have two weddings, a weekend away and three friend’s birthdays coming up, it’ll be a rough month to stick to it. I tend to ‘pre-book’ during these months. Which means that if you’re going to cleanse in April, you’re only allowed to drink on days that have been pre-booked before the month starts. That way you can drink at weddings, important birthdays or while on holiday but you’ll cut back on all those casual after work beers and Friday night drinks. Basically, you can’t drink unless you booked it in before the month started.

2. Pre-choose your AFDs

You should aim to have as many Alcohol Free Days as you can manage in a week but at the very least, if you’re trying to cut down on daily drinking, you should have a minimum of 3 AFDs. The trick is to pre-choose them. So for example, if you choose Monday, Tuesday and Thursday just stick to them as your non-negotiable AFDs every week and plan your boozy dinners and catch ups on other days. Easy.

give up alcohol

3. Have an unbreakable drink limit

I’m a massive lover of red wine and I choose to very strongly believe in all the hyped-up ‘healthy benefits’ of a glass of red. However, once I’ve had four glasses of red wine the health benefits tend to drop away, along with my ability to use my inside voice. Give yourself a drink limit. A mate of mine once did One Glass October. She could have a glass of wine every day but it could only be one. She did it for a month, was hangover free the whole time and even lost a couple of kgs. She was still able to have her glass of wine with dinner but she still reaped all the benefits of cutting back.

4. Offer to drive 

This one is a tried and true classic but it really works. Not only do you save money by not buying drinks but you also save money on an Uber home at the end of the night AND you wake up the next day feeling like flowers. Make it clear how long you want to stay at the party and if people want a lift with you, they need to be ready to go at that stage. It’s pretty rough being sober around a lot of drunk people so try to leave before things get too messy to stop any resentment sneaking in.

5. Spend less time with people who drink 

You can still spend time with your wine-loving mates but if you’re really trying to cut down, the best thing to do is to avoid people who are a bad influence on you. I’d love to be able to say I have the willpower to say no to a frosty Pure Blonde on a Friday afternoon in summer but alas I do not. If I’m really trying to not drink, I’ll avoid social occasions where alcohol is the main focus. Instead, I’ll meet friends for brunch, go for hikes or to the movies. Avoiding bars is a good place to start.

6. Only drink on days starting with ‘T’ 

This one is a little left of centre but hear me out. A mate of mine was wondering why she was able to have a sensible 2 glasses of wine on a weekday without any issues but for some reason when Friday and Saturday rolled around she was mainlining vodka until 2 am in the morning. So she made a rule that she was only allowed to drink on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a full month to break the repetitive cycle of heavy weekend drinking. She also had to work during the week so her ‘T’ drinking days were always kept at a sensible level. Sometimes you just need to break the habit.

7. Don’t keep or drink alcohol in your own home. 

Make a rule that you only drink outside of your house. That way you cut down on those weekday glasses of wine with dinner and if you don’t buy alcohol and have it in your house, you won’t be tempted to crack a beer after work or open a bottle of wine to have with dinner on a Tuesday.

Extra Reading

How To Stay Motivated When You’re Giving Something Up 

9 Ways To Get Yourself Out Of A Funk

9 Things To Try When You’re Having Trouble Sleeping 

What are your drinking habits like? Do you need to cut down?

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8 Comments

  1. Carole 1 year ago

    I did have a drinking problem. The goal to be free required a year of abstinence. No cheating. It was hard at first. Its in your face everywhere! The banners at the restaurants. The events. I drank a lot of water with lemon when I was out. Once I got to the other side, I hardly drink at all and I don’t miss it. Now I watch people acting like fools and think, wow, I’m glad I don’t do that anymore! Not to mention that I lost a ton of weight as a side benefit!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 1 year ago

      I have heard that after a full year of abstinence your desire to drink goes away. I’ve been really keen to try it but I’m actually not that big of a regular drinker (I do binge though!) so the frequency isn’t so much a big deal. I’m definitely considering though!

  2. Katy Hunt 1 year ago

    I hate how the whole aim of socialization is todrink alcohol. And so hard to find something else to drink thats as nice

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 1 year ago

      It’s also really weird because you wouldn’t drink 5 diet cokes in one night so why do we drink so much alcohol? It’s totally bizarre.

      • Lulu 1 year ago

        Yes, totally bizarre! With the exception of a few sips here and there, Ive never had alcohol. Never appealed to me. Im always amazed that people can drink so much liquid! Especially a mixed drink with all that sugar in it. I probably drink one lemonade to every four drinks my boyfriend and his mates have. If I drink too much soft drink I feel sick. I probably couldn’t drink that much water so quickly either. It must just be something people get used to?

        • Author
          Carly Jacobs 1 year ago

          Exactly! Like people drinking pint after pint of beer – I’m like ‘Where are you putting that???’

  3. Kathryn 1 year ago

    I used to drink a lot but I barely touch the stuff now. Some of the things that helped me cut it out were:

    1. driving – the best way to avoid pressure to drink if you say you have your car with you 🙂 Saying you are on medication that you can’t drink with is a good one too but really the best is having friends who don’t pressure you to do things you don’t want to do.

    2. make the first two drinks softies. Often I’m a bit nervous when I go to social events so I’ll drink the first two drinks super fast and that set me up for the rest of the night so starting on the soft stuff helps with that. But the time I get around to drinking booze, I’ve gotten over those initial nerves.

    3. don’t drink soft drinks, juice etc often so it feels like a treat to have a mocktail.

    4. don’t drink at home. I rarely did this anyway.

    5. quality over quantity. If nothing else, the drink price stops you drinking too much.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 1 year ago

      Driving is the best – I used to live in Canberra and had to drive everywhere it was the best diet ever – I was at least 5 kilos lighter when I drove everywhere! I always drink water when drinking alcohol too.

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