How to reduce your alcohol consumption while maintaining a social life

Cutting back on your alcohol consumption can be difficult, especially if you like to go out with friends. But a former bartender turned conscious drinker has put together a guide to make things a little easier.

After 22 years at his award-winning Washington, DC bar, Derek Brown decided it was time to give up alcohol and transition to mindful drinking.

Mindful drinking is an individual choice “to drink or not to drink alcohol based on your goals, health or otherwise,” says Brown, now a wellness coach and founder of Positive Damages Inc.

It can be as simple as deciding before you arrive at a bar to only have one glass of wine instead of drinking what your friends are drinking. Or it might mean choosing not to drink alcohol at all.

DON’T MISS: The 49-year-old was an award-winning bartender. Today, he practices “conscious consumption”: this is how it changed his life

Although it was clear to Brown that cutting out alcohol would benefit his health, it wasn’t an easy process, he says. To set himself up for success, Brown focused on the speed at which he drank.

A Guide to Navigating the Transition to Mindful Drinking

If you’re looking for ways to be more intentional about your drinking without changing your entire social life, consider Brown’s RATE method.

  • Replace: Replace alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic alternatives like mocktails or non-alcoholic beers.
  • Avoid: Avoid going to places where you know you will feel tempted or compelled to drink more than you would like. “I’m not suggesting you do this all the time, but it’s just one of the strategies,” says Brown.
  • Character: Drink a low-alcohol drink like a beer instead of a cocktail. Or consider alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night.
  • Request help: Contact someone who can be your accountability partner. It can be helpful to choose someone who is also engaged in their own mindful drinking journey.

Using the RATE method can be a great way to gradually reduce your alcohol intake over time without making drastic changes you’re not ready for. Testing each part of the guide can help you understand what mindful eating means to you.

Not drinking doesn’t mean you have to skip events or not go out with your friends, Brown emphasizes. Spend as much time with your loved ones as you want.

“Social wellbeing is really important. Getting out, spending time with your friends and family,” Brown says, “all of that is really good. That aspect is not negative.”

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