Tips for the 2020 New Years Resolution to Drink Less or Not at All

Woman thinks deep

We just moved into a new year, a new decade. This is the time when New Year’s resolutions are at their strongest. People are energized, and they’re making plans for personal betterment.

But we all know what happens next. Such resolutions are gradually left by the wayside. The energy and optimism felt on January 1st slowly fall away. And once commitments are forgotten, everyday habits resume.

One common resolution is to consume less alcohol—an understandable and sensible commitment. Drinking alcohol has no benefit, and there are always risks, even with moderate, conservative drinking.

So how can people resolve to drink less? And why would they want to drink less? Or, more importantly, can they quit drinking at all?

Why Should People Want to Drink Less?

It’s pretty easy for someone to say, “In 2020, I’d like to drink less alcohol.” But if that person doesn’t know why they should want to drink less or not at all, they’re not as likely to stay true to that commitment. When people have a better understanding of how harmful alcohol can be, they’re a lot more likely to maintain their commitment.

Let’s look at some of the statistics on the adverse effects of alcohol. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:

“An estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.”

Unfortunately, that’s not a well-known fact. There is this misconception that, because alcohol is legal, alcohol is also safe. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Alcohol is dangerous and it can be lethal. When people consume too much alcohol, the substance acts as a physiological depressant, slowing down central functions, dulling senses, inhibiting judgment, reducing motor function, and slowing reaction time. All of that can lead to several harmful events.

Most people understand that drinking too much alcohol can be harmful. Hence the New Year resolutions to drink less. But what actually comes about as a result of drinking too much? Why is alcohol consumption dangerous? Let’s look at some more examples.

Again from the NIAAA:

“In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities). In 2010, alcohol misuse cost the United States $249.0 billion. Three-quarters of the total cost of alcohol misuse is related to binge drinking.”

And then there is the effect that alcohol use has on young people. Here we are reminded very clearly as to why adolescents, teens, and young adults should not drink alcohol or even be around people who drink.

“More than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems. 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes. 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking…”
An alcoholic woman is walking in a tunnel.

“More than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems. 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes. 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking. 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.”

Successful Strategies – How People Cut Back on Their Drinking

When people know why they should curb their drinking, they’ve already won half the battle. But it’s also essential to have a clear understanding of how to curb alcohol consumption. It’s not always as simple as just deciding not to drink as much and then following through on that decision.

The Harvard Medical School offers some simple tips for helping people to cut back on alcohol:

  • Write it down. Writing something down is a way of further enforcing the importance of that thing in our minds. Something about putting pen to paper takes the abstract thought and makes it a concrete idea, right there, in writing, reminding us of its importance. Writing down the reasons why we want to drink less is an excellent way to remind us to stay committed to that decision.
  • Set goals. We don’t have to fix the problem overnight. We can set goals and limitations, as well as targets to meet. We can gradually cut back on drinking, a little bit each week until we aren’t drinking at all.
  • Don’t keep alcohol in the house. It’s a lot easier to drink alcohol if it is immediately available in the places where we spend most of our time (our homes). One smart way to significantly cut back on consumption is not to purchase bottled or canned alcohol, not to keep alcohol in the house.
  • Be more mindful of peer pressure. One of the ways people drink too much is because they are peer pressured into doing so. Drinking can be a very social activity. People are often encouraged to drink more when they are around others who are also drinking more. Being more mindful of peer pressure and staying away from such situations can be an effective method for cutting back on drinking.
  • Become engaged in healthy, productive activities. People don’t drink as much when they have hobbies or activities that they feel quite excited about. When people get involved in groups, take on a new passion or joy, learn a new skill, exercise more, etc., they’re less likely to stay at home and drink.

Given the prevailing attitude that alcohol use is a part of normal life, alcohol use is accepted as a fact of life. But there is no evidence to suggest that one must drink alcohol. If if you are not addicted, consider giving it up.

When Problems Arise, Seek Treatment for an Alcohol Addiction

If someone you care about has tried to drink less and has been unable to do so, that’s an indicator of alcohol addiction. If someone you care about cannot stop drinking, help will be required to assist them in shedding their alcohol dependence.

This is where residential drug and alcohol treatment comes into play. Residential drug rehabs that utilize long-term programs offer the safest, most dependable solution to addiction. Such programs have the staff, the tools, the resources, and the correct environment for breaking away from addiction. If help is needed, make sure help is found today. With 88,000 people dying from alcohol each year, addressing a family member or loved one’s alcohol problem is not something to put off.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.