January is the perfect opportunity to change our habits for the benefit of our health. Cutting back on the booze can be a really effective way to improve your health, boost your energy, lose weight and save money.

You do not necessarily need to go teetotal to feel the benefits of drinking less.

Cumbria has the second highest alcohol related death rate in the region. There were 12,945 alcohol related A&E attendances between April 2018 and September 2021, costing our local NHS almost £2 million.

Karen Nicoll.jpgSpecialist Nurse Karen Nicoll from NCIC said: “Alcohol contributes to over 60 conditions including cardiovascular (heart) disease, cancer, liver disease, harm from accidents, violence and self-harm. All of this puts substantial, and to a large extent avoidable, pressure on the NHS. Identifying and helping those using alcohol to excess will benefit your overall health in both the short and longer term.” 

“The health benefits of drinking less include lower blood pressure, lower risk of stroke, hypertension, cancer and liver disease, lower cholesterol levels, better mood, memory and quality of sleep, and help with weight management.”

Tips to help you cut down on alcohol

Even just setting and sticking to a few drink-free days a week, or swapping to lower-strength drinks, are great steps in the right direction.

  • Have a game plan: Use the Drink Free Days app to set yourself a weekly unit target and stick to it. But if one week you do go over your limit, don't stop trying – next week is a fresh start.
  • Switch from stronger stuff: Choose drinks that are lower in alcohol. Try lighter beers – under 4% ABV. As a rule of thumb, white and rosé wines are lower in strength than reds. Or try swapping some or all of your drinks for no or low-alcohol alternatives.
  • Shake up your social plans: Going for drinks is not the only way to see friends. You could watch a film, meet up for breakfast, grab a coffee and go for a walk, go bowling, head to the gym or sign up for a class to do together.
  • Set a booze budget: Sticking to a budgeted amount for alcohol can be a good way to drink less. If you are going out, try taking only the exact cash, or set up a spending alert on your card.
  • Write off the rounds: Being involved in rounds makes it easy to end up drinking more than you meant. Try to avoid them if you can, and do not feel like you have to say yes to a drink just because someone else is buying. There's always next time.
  • Only wine and dine: Waiting for your evening meal before you have a drink – and having your first only once you've started eating – is another simple way to help you cut down.
  • Beat boredom: If a drink is a way you handle boredom or stress, try finding something else to do instead. Exercise is a great stress reliever, and simple things like cleaning, a new hobby or DIY can be a good way to occupy mind and body.

Find out more over on the better health NHS website.