I am worried that I drink too much (Photo: iStock)

Hi Chris,

I drink too much. I enjoy socialising with my boozy girlfriends, and an evening drink with my husband has become a lovely habit. So I don’t want to give up completely, but I do worry about my health. Is there some way I can be more in control?

Heavy Drinker

Chris says,

Hi Heavy Drinker!

Lots of us drink too much, either for personal enjoyment or to soothe the pressures of careers and relationships. But that has some huge downsides, and so many people would like to cut it down.


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That is because drinking, long before you become physically dependent, develops into an irresistible habit. Driven not just by the taste and effects of alcohol, but also by the whole ritual of ‘having a drink’.

Mostly we are told that the only successful way forward is total abstinence. But there is another approach. Psychological techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you to manage your drinking.

CBT will help you monitor your drinking, set healthy limits for yourself, manage risky drinking behaviours, and above all, recognise and avoid the triggers that lead to excess.

Because most problem drinkers tend to avoid current treatment approaches. They don’t want to be labelled as alcoholics or told that lifetime abstinence is the only way forward.

Is reducing your drinking through CBT a good option for you? Yes, so long as you’ve not become dependent on alcohol.

It will still require a lot of effort and commitment. And it is possible that even with the help of CBT, you will find you simply can’t decrease your drinking. Then you should consider joining an abstinence-only group such as AA.

You won’t master the skills of moderation overnight, but most heavy drinkers are drinking significantly less within six months. So if you are worried about your drinking, talk to a CBT counsellor as a first step towards a healthier life.

All the best.