Strategies for Cutting Down
Small changes can make a big difference in reducing your chances of having alcohol-related problems. Here are some strategies to try. Check off some to try the first week, and add some others the next.
Keep track of how much you drink. Find a way that works for you, such as a 3×5″ card in your wallet, check marks on a kitchen calendar, or a personal digital assistant. If you make note of each drink before you drink it, this will help you slow down when needed.
Counting and measuring:
Know the standard drink sizes so you can count your drinks accurately.
One standard drink is:
- 12 ounces of regular beer
- 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor
- 5 ounces of table wine
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits
Measure drinks at home. Away from home, it can be hard to know the number of standard drinks in mixed drinks. To keep track, you may need to ask the server or bartender about the recipe.
Decide how many days a week you want to drink and how many drinks you’ll have on those days. It’s a good idea to have some days when you don’t drink. Drinkers with the lowest rates of alcohol use disorders stay within these limits:
- Men – no more than 14 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 on any day;
- Women – no more than 7 standard drinks a week and no more than 3 on any day.
Pacing and spacing:
When you do drink, pace yourself. Sip slowly. Have no more than one drink with alcohol per hour. Alternate “drink spacers”-nonalcoholic drinks such as water, soda, or juice-with drinks containing alcohol.
Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Have some food so the alcohol will be absorbed more slowly into your system.
What triggers your urge to drink? If certain people or places make you drink even when you don’t want to, try to avoid them. If certain activities, times of day, or feelings trigger the urge, plan what you’ll do instead of drinking. If drinking at home is a problem, keep little or no alcohol there.
Planning to handle urges:
When an urge hits, consider these options:
- Remind yourself of your reasons for changing.
- Talk it through with someone you trust.
- Get involved with a healthy, distracting activity.
- “Urge surf”-instead of fighting the feeling, accept it and ride it out, knowing that it will soon crest like a wave and pass.
Knowing your “no”:
You’re likely to be offered a drink at times when you don’t want one. Have a polite, convincing “no, thanks” ready. The faster you can say no to these offers, the less likely you are to give in. If you hesitate, it allows you time to think of excuses to go along.
Additional tips for quitting:
If you want to quit drinking altogether, the last three strategies can help. In addition, you may wish to ask for support from people who might be willing to help, such as a significant other or non-drinking friends. Joining Alcoholics Anonymous or another mutual support group is a way to acquire a network of friends who have found ways to live without alcohol.
If you’re dependent on alcohol and decide to stop drinking completely, don’t go it alone. Sudden withdrawal from heavy drinking can cause dangerous side effects such as seizures. See a doctor to plan a safe recovery.
General Resources and Women and Alcohol Resources:
This site includes frequently asked questions, fact sheets and an interactive section to look at your own drinking pattern (this is a great tool!). There is also research and professional provider information on this website.
Pregnant Women and Alcohol
The following websites contain some information specific to alcohol use during pregnancy including information on the dangers of alcohol to an unborn baby and some prevention ideas and resources.
- Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) (includes information on children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders)
- March of Dimes (includes information on healthy pregnancies)
- CDC, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (fact sheets, professional information here also)
The following brochures/handouts are from the NIAAA and are provided here for your convenience. There are more materials available on their website.
Quitting takes hard work and a lot of effort, but –
YOU CAN QUIT SMOKING
WANT TO QUIT?
- Nicotine is a powerful addiction
- Quitting is hard, but don’t give up
- Many people try 2 or 3 times before they quit for good
- Each time you try to quit, the more likely you will be to succeed
GOOD REASONS FOR QUITTING:
- You will live longer and live healthier
- The people you live with, especially your children, will be healthier
- You will have more energy and breathe easier
- You will lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, or cancer
TIPS TO HELP YOU QUIT:
- Get rid of ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, or workplace
- Ask your family, friends, and coworkers for support
- Stay in nonsmoking areas
- Breathe in deeply when you feel the urge to smoke
- Keep yourself busy
- Reward yourself often
QUIT AND SAVE YOURSELF MONEY:
- At over $3.00 per pack, if you smoke 1 pack per day, you will save more than $1,100 each year and more than $11,000 in 10 years
- What else could you do with this money?
Five Keys for Quitting
1. Get Ready
- Set a quit date and stick to it-not even a single puff!
- Think about past quit attempts. What worked and what did not?
2. Get Support and Encouragement
- Tell your family, friends, and coworkers you are quitting
- Talk to your doctor or other health care provider
- Get group or individual counseling
- Call the national quitline at 1-800-QUIT NOW
3. Learn New Skills and Behaviors
- When you first try to quit, change your routine
- Reduce stress
- Distract yourself from urges to smoke
- Plan something enjoyable to do every day
- Drink a lot of water and other fluids
4. Get Medication and use it Correctly
- Talk with your health care provider about which medication will work best for you:
- Bupropion SR-available by prescription
- Nicotine gum-available over-the-counter
- Nicotine inhaler-available by prescription
- Nicotine nasal spray-available by prescription
- Nicotine patch-available over-the-counter
- Nicotine lozenge*-available over-the-counter
5. Be Prepared for Relapse or Difficult Situations
- Avoid alcohol
- Be careful around other smokers
- Improve your mood in other ways than smoking
- Eat a healthy diet and stay active
*The nicotine lozenge was approved by the FDA October 2002
YOUR QUIT PLAN
1.Your Quit Date:
2. Who can Help You?
3. Skills and Behaviors you can Use:
4. Your Medication Plan:
5. How will you Prepare?
Quitting smoking is hard. Be prepared for challenges, especially in the first few weeks.
an online resource guide to quitting.
1-888-354-PLAN or a web based resource to help you quit.
resources to quit smoking