How to reduce alcohol consumption in a way that works, from a 22-year-old bartender who no longer drinks

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Limiting alcohol consumption can be difficult, especially if you enjoy going out with friends. But a former bartender turned mindful drinker has come up with a guide that makes it a little easier.

After 22 years at his award-winning bar in Washington, DC, Derek Brown decided it was time to quit alcohol and embrace conscious drinking.

Mindful drinking is an individual decision “to drink or not drink alcohol according to your goals, health or other goals,” says Brown, now a wellness coach and founder of Positive Damage Inc.

This can be as simple as deciding before coming to a bar to drink just one glass of wine instead of drinking what your friends are drinking. Or it can mean choosing not to drink alcohol at all.

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Although Brown knew giving up alcohol would benefit his health, it wasn’t an easy process, he says. To be successful, Brown focused on the speed at which he drank.

If you’re looking for ways to be more conscious about your drinking without changing your entire social life, consider Brown’s RATE method.

  • Substitute: Replace soft drinks with non-alcoholic alternatives such as mocktails or non-alcoholic beers.
  • Avoid: Don’t go to places where you know you’ll be tempted or pressured to drink more than you’d like. “I don’t recommend you do this all the time, but this is just one of the strategies,” Brown says.
  • Temperament: Instead of a cocktail, drink a low-alcohol drink like a beer. Or consider alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night.
  • Get help: Reach out to someone who can be your accountability partner. It may be helpful to choose someone who is also on the journey to mindful drinking.

Using the RATE method can be a great way to gradually reduce your alcohol consumption over time without making drastic changes that you are not prepared for. By testing each part of the guide, you can discover what mindful drinking means to you.

Not drinking doesn’t mean you should skip events or not go out with your friends, Brown emphasizes. Spend as much time with your loved ones as you want.

“Social wellness is really important. Going out, spending time with friends and family,” Brown says, “it’s all really good. This part is not negative.”

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