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2 unique strategies for service industry folks to cut back on drinking

Last updated September 06, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

Shaun McGuire has bartended in and around Peekskill, NY for years. He knows the community, has a ton of regulars, and has become legit friends with some of them (gone to their weddings, etc.)

This is of course great. As Shaun says, "as a bartender people are paying to spend time with you," and that feels good.

But there's a risk to the lifestyle too, and it's something most—if not all—bartenders deal with at some point: it's very easy to drink too much because there's always an excuse to have a drink.

Part of being a bartender is being the local celebrity, so when you're out and about and a regular sees you, they want to buy you a drink. That's natural enough, so you accept and drink it down. Having received a drink, you want to buy them a drink back. So you do. And on it goes.

It's super easy to talk yourself into a good time, and days of overindulging can turn into weeks, into months, and into years. Shaun's seen it happen and even started down that path himself at one point.

So, what to do? "Make space for yourself to not become a raging alcoholic," Shaun says. Blunt, as he always is, but true.

Here are two strategies he recommends for making that space.

1. When you want to go out for a meal or a drink, do it a little afield from where you work.

Why? If you're not in the vicinity, it's much less likely you'll run into someone you know, meaning it's way less likely someone will want to buy you a drink. This, of course, means its harder to overconsume.

(There's also a nice positive externality to this strategy: if you're going out with your partner, you'll be able to focus on them rather than chatting with regulars or co-workers.)

2. Get an accountability buddy

This is someone who can call you on drinking too much.

The person can be a friend, co-worker, family member, whoever, but that's not as important as this: they need to be someone you look up to or respect or someone who's doing better than you with drinking.

Why? Because if someone's calling you on your drinking you need to respect the person doing it enough to make changes.

It can be awkward to ask someone to be your accountability buddy, but as with most difficult conversations, the outcome is totally worth it.

There are of course other strategies out there to cut down on drinking, but given Shaun's vast experience behind the bar I wanted to share his top two with you.

Check out the interview clip for more on these strategies:

And if you want to hear more from Shaun, check out this playlist on the Brave New Bar Youtube channel.