A new year always brings a flurry of resolutions to lead a healthier lifestyle. Over 300,000 people tried the Dry January challenge in 2023, and many reported that they felt healthier at the end of it.

Sustained consumption of alcohol can lead to higher risk factors for cancer, heart disease, liver disease and strokes. It can also cause accidents, alcohol poisoning and sleep problems, among other issues.

While the UK’s chief medical officers stated in 2016 that no level of regular drinking is considered completely safe in relation to some cancers, reducing alcohol intake is always a good resolution.

1. Identify how much you’re drinking

The NHS recommends that to keep the health risks low, you should drink no more than 14 units per week, spread across at least three days. There are some online calculators that help to convert drinks into units, but a general rule of thumb is a can of lager, beer or cider is 2.7 units, a standard glass of wine is 2.1 units, and a shot of spirits is between 1.0 and 1.4 units.

2. Ride the wave of the new year

Whether it’s hitting the gym, trying to eat more plant-based foods or drinking less alcohol, use the motivation of a new year to power the changes you want to make to your lifestyle.

3. Make small changes first

If you don’t want to cut out all alcohol, restrict your drinking to certain days of the week or only at the weekend. By making small changes, you’ll find them easier to keep up.

4. Don’t do it alone

Tell friends and family what you’re doing so that they can encourage you and rearrange plans to make it easier for you to avoid alcohol when spending time with them. 

5. Try 0% options

Alcohol-free or low alcohol alternatives to beer, wine and spirits are becoming more popular and have improved in quality and taste. Between 2016 and 2021, total sales nearly doubled in the UK and there are new options.