Research finds counting your drinks reduces alcohol consumption

June 26, 2018 by Lauren Sydoruk, Curtin University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The most effective way for Australians to reduce their alcohol consumption is counting their drinks, new research led by Curtin University has found.

The research, published in the journal Addictive Behaviours, found that the most effective 'protective behavioural strategy' (PBS), aimed at helping drinkers control their , was keeping count of their .

Co-author John Curtin Distinguished Professor Simone Pettigrew, from the School of Psychology at Curtin University, said the research aimed to assess the relationship between 16 types of protective behaviours, such as drinking slowly, eating at the same time or spacing drinks with water, and among Australians.

"Excessive is a major public health concern and is the third leading contributor to the burden of disease behind tobacco and obesity. We were intrigued to see what actually worked to reduce alcohol consumption over time," Professor Pettigrew said.

"The aim of our study was to identify which strategies are most strongly related to reduced alcohol consumption. 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."

The four strategies that increased alcohol consumption over the four-week period included asking a friend to let you know when you have had enough to drink, putting extra ice in your drink, using a designated driver, and leaving drinking venues at a pre-determined time.

Professor Pettigrew noted that further research was needed to explain the ineffectiveness of the other protective behavioural strategies.

"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 research, funded by Healthway, was co-authored by researchers from the School of Psychology at Curtin University, Cancer Council Victoria, and the University of Newcastle.

Explore further: Risks of cancer and mortality by average lifetime alcohol intake

More information: Maria R. Dekker et al. A longitudinal examination of protective behavioral strategies and alcohol consumption among adult drinkers, Addictive Behaviors (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.06.017

Related Stories

Risks of cancer and mortality by average lifetime alcohol intake

June 19, 2018
The risk of mortality, and of developing a number of cancers, is lowest in light drinkers consuming an average of less than one drink per day across their lifetime, and the risk of some cancers increases with each additional ...

Booze ads cause risky drinking in young people

February 28, 2018
Young people are more likely to start drinking alcohol earlier and at risky levels as a direct result of alcohol companies targeting them via advertising, a review by Curtin University has found.

Experts urge review of alcohol consumption guidelines

April 13, 2018
Thresholds for safer alcohol use might need lowering, University of Queensland drug and alcohol experts have cautioned.

Labeling alcoholic drinks as lower in strength could encourage people to drink more

April 26, 2018
Wines and beers labelled as lower in alcohol strength may increase the total amount of alcoholic drink consumed, according to a study published in the journal Health Psychology. The study was carried out by the Behaviour ...

Serving smaller alcoholic drinks could reduce the U.K.'s alcohol consumption

May 14, 2018
New research published in Addiction, conducted by researchers from the Universities of Liverpool and Sheffield, highlights the potential benefits of reducing the standard serving size of alcoholic beverages.

Q&A: Is daily drinking problem drinking?

February 21, 2018
Dear Mayo Clinic: Is it possible to become an alcoholic just by having one or two drinks nightly? I have a glass or two of wine with dinner but never drink to the point of feeling drunk. Should I be concerned?

Recommended for you

1 in 9 U.S. adults over 45 reports memory problems

July 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—If you're middle-aged and you think you're losing your memory, you're not alone, a new U.S. government report shows.

Antioxidant benefits of sleep

July 12, 2018
Understanding sleep has become increasingly important in modern society, where chronic loss of sleep has become rampant and pervasive. As evidence mounts for a correlation between lack of sleep and negative health effects, ...

Footwear habits influence child and adolescent motor skill development

July 11, 2018
New research finds that children and adolescents who spend most of their time barefoot develop motor skills differently from those who habitually wear shoes. Published in Frontiers in Pediatrics, this is the first study to ...

How a Mediterranean diet could reduce osteoporosis

July 11, 2018
Eating a Mediterranean-type diet could reduce bone loss in people with osteoporosis—according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

Extreme heat and reduced cognitive performance in adults in non-air-conditioned buildings

July 10, 2018
Students who lived in dormitories without air conditioning (AC) during a heat wave performed worse on a series of cognitive tests compared with students who lived in air-conditioned dorms, according to new research led by ...

Suppressing negative emotions during health scare may whip up spiral of fear

July 10, 2018
Trying to suppress worries during a health scare, like the recent Zika outbreak, may lead to an ever-intensifying cycle of emotional suppression and fear, according to a team of researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.