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Home » Resources » Health » Cutting Back on the Holiday Cheer

Cutting Back on the Holiday Cheer


It’s that time of year when we all begin to take stock of our health and personal growth with New Year’s resolutions. Whether you’re participating in “dry” January or looking to make a long-term change, drinking less alcohol is a popular pledge that can help you achieve both aims.

Coming off the holidays, moderating the liquid cheer can be challenging for a lot of people. Many fall short of their objectives, mostly because they are not realistic. If you simplify your approach, goals will be more attainable and will make for better outcomes. In the case of alcohol consumption, the maxim “everything in moderation” becomes especially relevant.

Slow down and meditate. Mental clarity comes with slowing the pace of life. Meditation is a great tool for calming the mind and bringing your focus to just one thing. Take a few deep breaths and make a point to clear your mind. Think about your resolution for at least a few minutes each day.

Small changes can make a big difference. Progress is often incremental, and you might experience setbacks, for instance, finding that you continue to drink more than you intend to on certain occasions. If you have any reason to think that you might be physically addicted to alcohol and are at risk of suffering withdrawal, consult a medical doctor before you stop drinking abruptly.

If you have tried repeatedly to moderate your drinking, without success, you might consider taking a break from drinking for a few weeks or months and/or consult a health care professional. An addiction specialist who practices within a “harm reduction model” can help you decide whether a professionally-guided attempt at moderation or abstinence makes the most sense.

According to the CDC, moderate alcohol consumption is equivalent to two drinks per day for men and one per day for women. A standard drink is defined as a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a five-ounce glass of wine, or a cocktail that contains 5% alcohol. By following this marker of moderate drinking, you can mentally take note and pace yourself.

Experts say that drinking mindfully is the key to drinking moderately. Mindful, moderate drinking—compared to habitual drinking or “auto-pilot” drinking—means being fully conscious of your drinking in real time and being cognizant of how each drink is affecting your body, mood, and behavior. With that in mind, going into 2022, here are some guidelines and strategies that can help facilitate a moderate approach to drinking. 

Tips for Mindful Moderate Drinking:

  • Pace and space. Drink slowly and have no more than one drink per hour, especially during the first hour. Also, when you’re counting drinks, keep in mind that martinis and many other mixed drinks contain at least two to three drink units per serving.
  • Avoid drinking with heavy drinkers. If you do find yourself out among heavy drinkers, have a club soda in hand so you can skip the next round.
  • Don’t drink past your “off” switch. In other words, stop drinking before you stop thinking. In general, men lose their off switch after three to five drinks and women after two to four drinks, when consumed in less than three to four hours.
  • Eat and drink plenty of water. High-protein foods and nonalcoholic beverages can help to decrease the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream and brain. Eat something before taking your first drink and intersperse alcoholic beverages with water or seltzer.
  • Take note of interactions with prescription medications. Discuss with your doctor the risks of drinking if you are on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements, or herbal remedies.
  • Plan your transportation and make sure a reliable ride is always within reach. 
  • Think about tomorrow. If you have to be at work or have something else important to do first thing in the morning, plan to stop drinking early enough so you can be on your game the next day.

Whether you’re on the path to sobriety or taking a moderate approach, self-reflection is a positive result—and the beginning of a new and healthy relationship with alcohol. Online alcohol support groups are great evidence-based options for those looking for additional support and accountability. Whatever path you’re on, you are not alone.

Alcohol Management Resources

Alcoholics Anonymous—Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere.

Alcohol Management Program—This is a confidential education program that helps people with mild to moderate alcohol problems reduce or stop drinking. It is not for those who have a severe alcohol addiction and need treatment approaches rather than educational ones.

Harm Reduction Therapy Center—This helps users set and meet their own goals for gaining control over drinking and drugs. This organization helps people determine which aspects of their drinking habits may be harmful. It also helps people figure out what they would like to change and how to put their plans into action.

Moderation Management—This is a recovery program and national support group network. It’s for people who have made the decision to reduce their drinking and make other positive lifestyle changes.

Rational Recovery—This program uses a method called Addictive Voice Recognition Technique. This is a behavioral program that you do on your own through self-help books and seminars.

Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) Recovery—The goal of SMART Recovery is to build skills in people so they can maintain abstinence. It’s for those who like a do-it-yourself approach with very little structure.

Addiction Alternatives—This program practices the philosophy that people can learn how to overcome addiction without stopping drinking forever.

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