Download our fact sheet on cutting back on alcohol and other drugs.
Alcohol and other drugs can seem like a normal part of life for many young people. We totally get it – it can be fun, lift your mood and boost your confidence.
In the longer term though, when the high wears off, the after-effects can leave you feeling worse than before. Anxiety can increase, your mood can drop and any difficulties you're having in your life, for example with relationships or work and study, can be harder to manage.
If this sounds like you, it’s a good idea to look at whether your alcohol or drug use is playing a part.
Paying attention to some of the impacts of your alcohol and other drug use, like reduced sleep, motivation, energy and mood, can help you to start making different decisions that work for you in the long term.
Whether you’re celebrating a friend’s birthday or heading to a music festival, try to stay safe and limit alcohol and other drugs to help your headspace.
- keep your mind alert
- stops the side effects of hangovers and come downs
- improve your motivation
- improve your sleep
- improve your mood
- improve your energy levels
- improve your relationships
- improve your engagement with work or study.
Ask an expert: how can I reduce my alcohol and other drug intake?
Professor Yvonne Bonomo is an Alcohol and other Drugs expert from St Vincent's Hospital:
- Start by working out how alcohol or other drugs are impacting your life. Ask yourself: 'Have I been anxious or upset more than usual? Could this be related to my alcohol or other drug use?'
- Start slow. Try beginning with a short break (try a few days, then a week, then a month). This will help you reset and see the impact it's having.
- Be patient. It might take a few days before you start to see positive changes.
- Stay healthy. When you cut back it’s normal to feel a little off, so look after yourself – try to eat well, do a little bit of exercise, spend some time with people you care about.
- When an urge comes up try to sit with it. Recognise: 'OK, this usually happens before I drink or use other drugs, but this time I'm not going to act on it'. The more you do this, the easier it becomes.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Whether you’re cutting back or quitting, it’s normal to have ups and downs. Lapses are common. Remember it’s a process and you learn every time you try again.
'After a particularly rough period, I was introduced to headspace. I spoke with a young counsellor who was just really helpful. He was aware of the issues that young people face. He told me how important it was to reduce my intake and have a strong support network around me.
I built my support network out from just headspace and included my family and girlfriend. It hasn’t been an easy process. But my support network has been so helpful.'
- Fergus, headspace Youth National Reference Group Alumni
When you’re feeling low or stressed it’s important to put healthy habits in place that build your emotional strength – to help you for ride life’s ups and downs.
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Last reviewed 21 September 2021