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How To Be More Assertive About Cutting Back on Drinking

June 16, 2023
11 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
June 16, 2023
11 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
June 16, 2023
11 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
June 16, 2023
11 min read
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Reframe Content Team
June 16, 2023
11 min read

Cheers to a healthier and happier you! You've made the decision to cut back on alcohol, and that's something to be celebrated. 

Taking charge of your well-being is a bold step towards a better life, and we're here to help you navigate the journey –– with confidence. Whether you're looking to cut back on drinking for health reasons, personal growth, or simply to feel more in control, assertiveness is the key to success. 

In this article, we'll explore the art of being assertive about your decision, equipping you with the tools and mindset to embrace a mindful drinking lifestyle. Let’s talk about how to cut back on drinking and be more assertive with our decisions.

Embracing Your Decision

You're at a social gathering, surrounded by friends and acquaintances. The room is buzzing with conversations and laughter, and the clinking of glasses fills the air. You decide to stick to your commitment of cutting back on drinking, opting for sparkling water instead. As you hold the can in your hand, someone approaches you with a puzzled expression.

"Why aren't you drinking?” they ask. “Are you on some kind of diet?"

Sound familiar? In situations like these, being assertive can be a challenge — but it's essential to stay true to yourself and your goals. 

You must first remember to embrace your “why.” Understanding and embracing the reasons you’re changing your relationship with alcohol can empower you in social situations. Whether it's for your physical health, mental clarity, or personal growth, reminding yourself of your motivations will help you stand firm and confidently express your decision.

Strategies for Success

Let's explore some strategies to help you become more assertive about your decision:

  • Educate yourself. Arm yourself with knowledge about the effects of alcohol on the body and mind. Familiarize yourself with the latest research on the benefits of reducing alcohol consumption. When you're well-informed, you can speak about your decision from a place of authority and provide accurate information if someone pushes back.
  • Communicate with clarity. Assertiveness begins with effective communication. Clearly and confidently express your decision to others, using "I" statements to convey your intentions and feelings. By sharing your reasons openly, you invite understanding and support. (Look to the next section for specific tips on navigating these conversations.)
  • Set boundaries. Establishing personal boundaries is crucial for maintaining your assertiveness. If you're uncomfortable with peer pressure or constant offers of drinks, communicate your boundaries firmly and kindly. If you don’t want to get into it, then keep it brief and general. For instance, say, "Thank you for offering, but I'm choosing not to drink tonight. I appreciate your understanding."
  • Practice self-care. Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally will enhance your self-confidence. Engage in activities that boost your confidence and self-esteem. Surround yourself with community and supportive friends who respect your choices. When you prioritize self-care, you reinforce your commitment to a healthier lifestyle, making it easier to assertively navigate social situations.

Remember, it’s not about being aggressive or confrontational. Assertiveness is about confidently expressing your needs and boundaries while respecting others. 

Communicate Your “Why” –– But Only If You Want To

There are plenty of reasons why we cut back. People are curious, but the truth of it is –– it’s truly no one’s business knowing the reasons behind our personal decision to do so. However, if you feel like sharing your why with someone who asks, here are some ways to navigate those conversations.

1. For health reasons. If your primary motivation is health-related, you can use these statements: 

  • “I’m trying to be healthier.” That’s enough of an explanation. But if you want to, you can point out that no amount of drinking is good for you. In fact, recent studies show quite the opposite.
  • “I’m trying to lose weight.” If you’re motivated by weight loss, cutting back on extra calories from drinking is a good way to start. 
  • "I've decided to cut back on alcohol because I want to focus on my fitness goals and improve my overall well-being." Concise, confident –– you got this.

2. For mindful drinking. If cutting back is driven by a need to observe or improve your relationship to alcohol, try using these explanations: 

  • “I’m curious about my relationship to alcohol and trying to be more mindful about it.”
  • “I’m cutting back on drinking that feels obligatory or automatic. I don’t actually want to drink right now, so I’m good with this alcohol-free option. I’ll let you know if I change my mind.”

3. For mental clarity. By reducing alcohol consumption, you open the door to enhanced focus, improved cognitive function, and a heightened sense of awareness. Say goodbye to the mental noise and hello to a sharp, vibrant mind ready to conquer whatever comes your way.

  • “I need to be sharp tomorrow, and alcohol gets in the way of that.”

4. For personal growth. If drinking makes you feel shame or regret the next morning, that’s a good sign you need to cut back. Embrace those feelings on your path to personal growth.

  • “I don’t feel great about myself whenever I drink, so I’m avoiding it for now.”

Keep it brief! There are many whys and ways to cut back on drinking, but you can share as much or as little as you like. No one is entitled to know the reasons behind something this personal, so these phrases are just here to support you if you want to share. Be prepared for all kinds of responses –– including defensiveness and resistance –– and stand your ground as you remember your why. That’s enough.

Embracing Empowerment and Building Support

In the final section, we'll explore how to embrace empowerment and build a strong support network to bolster your assertiveness.

  • Reframe the narrative. Instead of viewing your choice to cut back on alcohol as a limitation, think of it as a source of empowerment. Focus on the positive outcomes you've experienced since making this choice. Do you feel clearer? More present? Less fuzzy? Emphasize the joy and fulfillment you've found in alternative activities, such as exploring new hobbies, connecting with others on a deeper level –– or simply waking up refreshed and energized.
  • Seek support. Building a strong support network can make a world of difference in your assertiveness journey. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who share your goals or join Reframe to support your mindful drinking journey. Connecting with others who understand and support your decision will boost your confidence and provide valuable insights and encouragement.

By practicing assertiveness and embracing empowerment, you're not only standing up for your choices but also inspiring those around you to embrace healthier habits. Remember, assertiveness is a skill that improves with practice. Celebrate your victories, no matter how small, and learn from any challenges you encounter along the way. 

And remember, if you ever need a little pep talk or advice, Reframe and the community you’ll find there is ready to support you every step of the way. You've got this!

Feel Empowered and Thrive With Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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