Counting how many you’ve had is the best way to force yourself to drink less, according to science.
“I’m not going to drink tonight. Okay, I’ll have one — but that’s it.” Fast forward to waking up a dusty wreck the next morning, wondering how you lost track of your drinking yet again.
Scientists have swooped to the rescue of us hopeless boozehounds, finding the best way to curb alcohol consumption is simply keeping count of your drinks.
That’s the outcome of a Curtin University study that sought to determine the best “protective behavioural strategy” (aka PBS) to protect you from your boozy self.
Using data collected from participants in a series of online surveys, the Curtin researchers pitted 16 different PBSes against each other to determine which ones lowered alcohol intake over a four-week period.
“The aim of our study was to identify which strategies are most strongly related to reduced alcohol consumption,” explained study co-author Professor Simone Pettigrew, from Curtin’s School of Psychology.
“The results showed that out of the 16 different strategies investigated in this study, 11 were ineffective, four were related to increased alcohol consumption, and only one – counting your drinks – resulted in lower levels of alcohol consumption over time.”
So, to break it down:
The only effective PBS:
- Count the number of drinks you have
This was the only strategy that was linked to significantly decreased alcohol use, although the the overall effect size was still small.
“The ‘counting your drinks’ strategy was effective across various demographic groups, indicating that it could potentially be a strategy used by health organisations hoping to reduce alcohol-related harm in Australia,” Professor Pettigrew said.
The 11 PBSes that didn’t make a difference:
- Drink slowly rather than gulping or sculling
- Make a point of eating while consuming alcohol
- Avoid mixing different types of alcohol in the same drinking session (e.g., beer and wine)
- Avoid trying to “keep up” or “out-drink” others
- Avoid drinking games
- Decide not to exceed a certain number of drinks
- Drink water while drinking alcohol
- Quench your thirst by having a non-alcoholic drink before having alcohol
- Stop drinking at a predetermined time
- Refuse an alcoholic drink you were offered because you didn’t really want it
- Alternate between drinking alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
And the four “protective” strategies likely to make you drink more:
- Ask a friend to let you know when you have had enough to drink
- Put extra ice in your drink
- Use a designated driver
- Leave drinking venues at a predetermined time
Pettigrew said it’s not yet clear why certain strategies might be less or not effective — although the paper noted one reason could be that setting limits on alcohol consumption makes you crave it more.
Originally Published by Coach, continue reading here.