Drinking is inherently a social activity. During weddings, birthday parties, holidays, and other festivities, alcohol is ever-present. After a long day at work, co-workers go out for drinks as a way to de-stress. In simple gatherings with friends and family, drinking tends to be a usual activity. But while many social gatherings tend to involve alcohol, social drinking is not always done responsibly.
Excessive social drinking can increase your alcohol tolerance and your desire to drink more, which can lead to alcoholism. Sooner or later, you may find yourself drinking in non-social settings as well, growing more and more dependent on alcohol until you find yourself needing alcoholism treatment.
If you notice that your drinking gets quite out of hand in social gatherings, it’s best to reel in yourself before you become addicted. Here are some of the best ways to cut down your alcohol intake while in social situations:
1. Learn to say no
Co-worker asking you out to drinks? Friends inviting you to the club? Parents offering you a glass at dinner? There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink or two with your loved ones. But if you are going beyond the ideal alcohol intake for the day or the week, learn how to fight the temptation and say “no.”
Similarly, if a particular group of friends tends to lead you into overdrinking, try to find other ways to socialize with them that don’t involve alcohol.
2. Know your limits
How many drinks can you take until you can say that you’ve had enough? If you are a social drinker, then you probably know that number by now. So whenever you go out to drink, try not to go over that amount as much as possible. Moreover, remind your companions to respect your limits as you do theirs. If they pressure you to take another drink, politely refuse and tell them that you are trying to cut back on drinking.
3. Have a non-alcoholic drink in hand
When you’ve already reached your limit for the night, order a non-alcoholic beverage so that you still have something to sip on while socializing with others. That is also a useful tip during social gatherings with servers since you are less likely to have your glass refilled when you already have a drink.
4. Drink plenty of water
Here’s a useful trick to help you control your drinking: drink plenty of water before the event so that there is less room in your stomach for liquids. Moreover, this will also lead to more bathroom breaks, distracting you from drinking and giving you enough time to think over your next drink.
5. Eat before or during drinking
Like drinking water, eating before or during an event will help keep your stomach full, thus reducing your desire to drink excessively. When going out to a bar or the club, eat an appropriately sized meal at least an hour beforehand. During festivities that include alcohol, finish your meal first before taking a sip of your drink. It also helps to munch on beer nuts or other finger foods to help curb your alcohol intake.
6. Avoid drinking games
Drinking games are fun, but they can easily lead to having one too many drinks. It’s okay to indulge yourself in a game once in a while. But when you’re trying to cut back, settle on watching the game instead.
7. Don’t buy alcohol
While you’re trying to cut back on social drinking, you must reduce your alcohol intake at home as well. To do that, avoid buying alcohol as much as possible. Alternatively, buy small quantities instead of six-packs or large bottles to reduce your intake effectively.
8. Leave early
Don’t hesitate to leave a social gathering early if you are being pressured to drink excessively, especially if you are already having difficulty controlling your intake. Excuse yourself, say goodbye, and call it a night.
9. Stay away from the bar
When drinking at a bar or a club, try to stay away from the bar as much as possible. That can help you avoid the temptation of ordering drink after drink.
Know when it’s becoming a problem
Are you finding yourself drinking every weekend? Is your alcohol tolerance getting higher and higher? Are you starting to drink even when you’re not in a social setting?
If you notice that your drinking is getting out of hand, be honest with yourself and admit that it is starting to become a problem. In this way, you can act quickly and find ways to cut back before you become dependent on alcohol. And if you are having trouble changing your habits, seek help from your support system or a health professional.