Thinking about taking a break from alcohol? Heres how to cut back or quit

No wonder you feel less than stellar on Wednesday after a few glasses of wine on Tuesday. If you decide to return to drinking after January is over, stay within the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025, which provide advice on what to eat and drink to meet nutrient needs, promote health, and prevent disease. The guidelines recommend that adults who choose to drink limit alcohol intake to 1 drink or less for women and 2 drinks or less for men—on any single day, not on average. Research shows that even small amounts of alcohol can carry health risks, including for certain cancers and cardiovascular issues.

Assess what you want to change with regards to your drinking before you start again. Write down your goals, for example, drinking only a certain amount, having more water, or avoiding shots. Don't just stop the habit but replace it with something else. It's a great opportunity to take up hobbies you may have forgotten you enjoyed in the past or to try new ones.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

“Some conditions might improve right away after the drinking stops—if they’re triggered by alcohol,” Dr. Genebriera says. Another unhealthy habit is consistently drinking alone. Those who do so should ask themselves why they are drinking. To cut down, they might need to address what’s prompting them to drink. "Identify your reasons for drinking and find alternative ways to achieve those objectives without alcohol," she says, pointing out you've likely already tried a few of them during Dry January.

As you begin to notice those health benefits, you’ll likely feel more energized and inspired to keep up your progress. Research shows that most people believe that drinking can make them feel better. However, when alcohol makes up part of your typical routine, drinking can become something of an automatic response, especially when you feel stressed or overwhelmed.

Why does drinking alcohol affect your sleep?

I don’t want my younger years to be defined by my drinking habits. Experts I spoke to warned against the danger of binge drinking. It would be a mistake to abstain during the week just to “save up” and drink heavily over the weekend. Drinking regularly will lead to an increase in tolerance to the short-term effects of alcohol and could lead to alcohol dependence. So it’s important to take a break from alcohol so you don't become alcohol dependent. It’s not all sunshine and roses when we stop drinking – we can also expect moments where we are triggered to drink and have strong cravings.

This sober curious movement is relatively new, and scientists are just beginning to study the health effects of taking a short break from alcohol. Here's NPR's Allison Aubrey with what researchers have learned so far. You may find yourself being more social during the day, and relaxing and unwinding during the evenings when you’d normally be out and about. Although it doesn’t always happen instantly, weight loss is a natural occurrence of taking a break from drinking. So, you’ve decided to commit to a month off from drinking!


With the recent popularization of 30-day challenges like Dry January and Sober October, people are beginning to recognize that there can be benefits to cutting out alcohol for a period of time. But if you’re new to sober curiosity, you may not know where to how to take a break from alcohol begin thinking about your relationship with alcohol. Family and friends can provide encouragement and support when you stop drinking. By opening up about your relationship with alcohol, you might also encourage others to explore their own drinking habits.

Now, if you're worried that you are one of the 17 million U.S. adults who are alcohol dependent, and alcohol is causing you stress or harm, seek medical advice. As we've reported, there are a variety of treatments beyond Alcoholics Anonymous, including counseling, medications and support groups to help people who want to end that dependency. This NIAAA guide can help you find a program or approach that's right for you. So far, there are a handful of studies that point to some benefits of abstinence for even moderate drinkers — in addition to the widely recognized benefits for people who have alcohol use disorder. Here are six ways to make that happen — and, holidays or not, you don't need to drink to celebrate.