Navigating a night out when you're trying to drink less: 6 tips from Irish adults to make it easier

Here’s how to have a great night and still feel good the next morning.

‘ARE YOU ON antibiotics?’

‘Oh my god, are you pregnant?!’

Social events can be one of the biggest hurdles for anyone trying to drink less alcohol.

While the mental and physical advantages of cutting down are obvious, it can be tough to stick to your good intentions when your friends are gently encouraging you to have ‘just one more’.

Resisting the pressure and temptation is no easy feat, and that’s why planning ahead is key. With a little forward thinking, you can more easily achieve your aim of drinking less, so that great nights become good mornings.

To help you figure out the right approach, we asked some Irish adults for the tips that help them navigate social events when they’re drinking less…

1. Avoid getting caught up in rounds

I find that being straightforward about it and saying you are taking it easy so will just get your own drinks in rather than joining the round is pretty effective. Failing that, you can also just allow yourself to skip a round or two.

- Michael, 35

2. Make it a choice, not a chore

When I say to myself, ‘I can’t drink tonight,’ I find I want to have one, but when I say, ‘I’m choosing not to have a drink’, it feels easier. Having a choice feels empowering. Before going out, make your intention to drink less clear with yourself, and make it clear to your friends.

- Dominick, 38

shutterstock_425143765 Shutterstock / Elena Veselova Shutterstock / Elena Veselova / Elena Veselova

3. Have an alcohol-free beer (or any alternative you enjoy the taste of)

Water and soda water can get boring fast. Try to find a drink that’s enjoyable for when you’re out and about, so that you don’t feel deprived.

- Shaun, 30

I think I’m like a lot of people, where I associate pizza with beer and relaxing chats with a G&T. So I go for alcohol-free beer or tonic water on its own. Sipping those, I don’t feel like I’m missing out, and I have the placebo satisfaction of drinking but without the alcohol.

- Rosie, 29  

4. Take the car and enjoy being able to leave whenever you like

If I decide to drive, I’m careful about not automatically offering lifts. Leave when you want to leave, and enjoy the freedom not drinking gives you. Waiting around for people to find their coats at 2am is no fun!

- Mary, 27

Set yourself a time limit for your night out. If you know you’re heading off at midnight, it’s easier to drink less than when there’s a chance you’ll be out until 3am.

- Kate, 45 

shutterstock_777091336 Shutterstock / The Num Phanu Studio Shutterstock / The Num Phanu Studio / The Num Phanu Studio

5. Pre-plan your conversation topics

If you’re struggling with the social hurdles of cutting down on drinking and the (false) idea that alcohol makes you a better conversationalist at big social events, then come prepared. Arm yourself with a few topics and questions.

- Dave, 31

6. Tell the truth

People do tend to comment when you say no to the offer of a drink. I’d rather say “Drinking doesn’t make me feel great” than make up a lie. Or I try to make creative plans with my friends to avoid always meeting people in a pub: I go on a lot of hikes, to gigs, to board game nights, movie nights and dinners.

- Hannah, 27

Drink less, gain more. Cutting back on alcohol can improve your health and make you feel better, physically and mentally. Find out more about the benefits of drinking less, plus tips to help you stay on track, at askaboutalcohol.ie.

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