Do you enjoy a drink now and again? Does your weekend revolve around catching up with friends over a glass of wine or dancing the night away in a club? Alcohol is a poison, but it doesn’t do any harm in moderation. The troubles begin when a casual drink turns into something more profound. Are you drinking more than you used to? Or are you worried about your alcohol consumption? If so, here are five ways you can cut your weekly alcohol intake.

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  1. Plan in advance

If you’re going out and you’re conscious about not drinking too much, make a plan beforehand. Set a limit and a budget. If you know how much you’re going to drink, and how much you can spend, this will help you pace yourself over the course of the evening. When you go out, tell your friends that you’re making an effort to cut down, so that they don’t try and encourage you to drink more than you want to.

  1. Alternate your drinks

If you’re on a big night out, drinking constantly can put you way over your weekly intake, let alone your daily guideline. Try and alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks and glasses of water. This will reduce your alcohol intake, and keep you hydrated.

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  1. Switch up your routine and expand your social circle

If you’re used to going to the pub after work or going to a bar every Friday and Saturday, try and get into a new routine. Spend your free time doing other things. Take up a new hobby, or do things that don’t involve drinking. Go bowling or head to the movies instead of hitting a bar. Stay in with a DVD and some snacks instead of going out. You may also find it helpful to avoid friends who drink a lot while you’re trying to cut down. Get back in touch with friends you’ve not seen for a while. Or make an effort to meet new people.

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  1. Go for weaker drinks and smaller measures

Are you used to drinking pints, double measures, and large glasses of wine? If so, you can cut your intake dramatically by opting for single measures, small glasses of wine and bottles of beer? Try and avoid shots, as they last seconds. Ask for long drinks to be topped up with soft drinks, so that your drinks last longer.

  1. Keep some days drink-free and monitor your consumption

Try and keep at least a couple of days per week drink-free. It’s also a really good idea to use an app or write a diary to keep track of how much alcohol you consume. You may be surprised at how many units you drink over the course of a week.

If you’re drinking too much, there is a risk of alcohol addiction. Addictions are very serious. Alcoholism often requires intensive treatment in facilities such as alcohol rehab centers. If you’re worried, it’s best to act now. The sooner you start to cut your intake, the lower the risk of long-term health implications.