How can I cut down on alcohol?

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  • By making a few simple changes to your routine you can make a big difference to how much you’re drinking
  • Tracking how much alcohol you’re drinking can be helpful, and will show which tips work for you
  • Did you know as many as 1 in 5 people over 16 in Great Britain don’t drink at all?

If you drink, cutting back on alcohol will be good for your health and reduce your risk of cancer.

Whatever your drinking habits, these tips can help you cut down;

  • Keep a record - stay on top of how much you’ve drunk and see what helps you cut down. You could use the NHS Drinks Tracker.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones – if you tend to have 3 or more drinks at one time, this is a simple way to reduce how much you drink in one go.
  • Set yourself drink free days- chose which days you won’t drink and stick to them.
  • Buddy up with a friend or family member- not drinking when you’re with other people who are can be tricky, but it’s much easier if you’re not the only one!
  • Don’t stock up on alcohol- having alcohol at home may make it more likely that you’ll have a drink. Try only buying alcohol when you plan to drink it.
  • Try sticking to only drinking with meals- this can help reduce how much you have in an evening.
  • Don’t want to waste leftover wine? Freeze it and use it in cooking!


  • Try not to continually top up glasses- this makes it hard for everyone to keep track of how much alcohol they’ve had.
  • Use smaller glasses -  even if they have the same amount of alcohol in them, small glasses can make people drink less.
  • Provide alcohol-free alternatives- alcohol free beer and wine is a growing market, or you could try making a mocktail!
  • Keep water glasses topped up- and you can give it some extra flavour with sliced lemon, lime or mint.
  • Make your ‘usual’ a small- if you would normally go for a large glass of wine or a double shot, try switching to a small glass or single. Not only will make a big difference to how many units you’re drinking, you’ll also save money.
  • Try to avoid rounds when drinking with a group- this gives you much more control over how much you’re drinking.


How many calories are there in alcohol?

Alcoholic drinks contain more calories than we might realise, which can quickly add up.

  • A large glass of white wine contains around 188 calories- or just over one and a half bags of crisps.
  • A pint of bitter contains around 170 calories- that’s more than a can of original coke.
  • Mulled wine is popular during the festive season, but the mix of alcohol and lots of sugar means a large glass contains around 388 calories- or just over four and half chocolate digestives.

What are the government alcohol guidelines?

The UK government guidelines are given in units of alcohol. 1 unit of alcohol equals 8g of alcohol- but bear in mind most alcoholic drinks will contain more than one unit.

To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level both men and women are advised to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

To work out the units in your drink and track your drinking, try the NHS Drinks Tracker.

Brown, K. F. et al. The fraction of cancer attributable to modifiable risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom in 2015. Br. J. Cancer 118, 1130–1141 (2018).

Office for National Statistics. Adult drinking habits in Great Britain: 2017. (2018).

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Does alcohol cause cancer?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a free self-help group.

Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, you can call this free helpline in complete confidence.