HAMS: Harm Reduction for Alcohol

Reduced Drinking

The HAMS Harm Reduction Network offers these pragmatic, how-to strategies for reducing your drinking. Different people use different strategies so feel free to pick and choose the ones that fit you the best from the list below. Remember--if you feel that you drink too much then any reduction that you make at all is a success!!

1) Add abstinence days
If you drink every day of the week then you might want to start by adding one abstinence day per week and eventually add more days as you go along. Even if you don't drink every day of the week, adding more abstinence days is good strategy for reducing over all consumption. WARNING: If you are afraid that you might suffer from withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking then be sure to taper off safely first.

2) Start later
Some people find that starting drinking later in the day can help them to reduce over all consumption per drinking session. If this works for you then great! If you find yourself drinking later into the night because of starting later however, you might want to abandon this strategy.

3) Stop earlier
Picking a specific time to stop drinking for the day can also help many people to reduce their over all consumption per session. Many wine drinkers decide to brush their teeth to put a period to the wine drinking because wine tastes very bad after brushing.

4) Limit your cash
Some people who only drink in bars find that bringing a limited supply of cash and no credit or debit cards to the bar with them helps them to stop within a reasonable limit.

5) Buy only what you plan to drink
Some people who drink at home find that a good way to limit consumption is to keep no alcohol in the house and to only buy alcohol on the day they plan to drink it and to only buy enough for that drinking session.

6) Chart your drinks
Measuring your drinks to ensure that they are standard drinks and charting them on a calendar of some sort is a strategy which many people find highly effective in helping them to cut back on their drinking.

7) Add moderation days
Picking some days when you choose to only drink moderately is another way to reduce over all alcohol consumption. It is perfectly reasonable to alternate abstinence days with moderation days and intoxication days as a strategy.

8) Get meds
There are a number of medications and supplements which have proven effectiveness in helping people to reduce the quantity of alcohol which they drink including naltrexone, glutamate and kudzu. See our medications page for more info on these. If you drink because you have insomnia then we strongly recommend using a sleep aid rather than alcohol to help you to get to sleep.

9) Avoid drinking when you feel bad
Lots of people find that their drinking can run out of control if they drink when they feel angry or depressed. If this is you then you might want to think about avoiding alcohol when you feel this way.

10) Switch your drink of choice
Drinking straight shots of booze can get you drink very quickly--moreover you can wind up with a stomach full of alcohol which hits your bloodstream all in a rush. Switching your drink of choice to something with a lower alcohol content can help you to slow down your intake and to reduce over all alcohol consumption and can also help to avoid blackouts which occur when the alcohol hits your system all in one big rush.

11) Eat and hydrate first
Eating before you drink helps keep the alcohol in your stomach where it is absorbed into the bloodstream much more slowly than if it is in the small intestine. If you drink plenty of water before you start drinking alcohol then you won't guzzle your alcoholic drinks because you won't be feeling thirsty when you drink them.

12) Pace and alternate drinks
Picking a drinking pace such as one drink per hour and timing yourself with a clock is one way to slow down your drinking pace and reduce over all consumption. Another way to accomplish this is to alternate non-alcoholic drinks with alcoholic drinks.

13) Plan and schedule your drinking
Try to plan ahead so that a night of drinking does not interfere with something important like work or school on the following day. You might even want to use a calendar chart to plan your drinking in advance.

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