The next AA? Welcome to Moderation Management, where abstinence from alcohol isn’t the answer Alcohol

The abstinence model for alcohol refers to refraining from all alcohol consumption. It focuses on the idea that controlled drinking is not realistic and a slippery slope. Abstinence from drinking is typically considered the traditional approach to treatment and is sometimes required in programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. Life-long abstinence from alcohol is often the end goal for many people who have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, but getting to this point can be challenging. Some people may never get the care they need to start this journey and as a result, will never achieve abstinence. For those with more severe alcohol use disorders, trying to quit drinking cold turkey can also be dangerous to their health and in some cases, even deadly. To avoid these problems, we offer a medical alcohol detox and rehab in Ohio that safely weans someone’s body off of alcohol. While the result is abstinence from alcohol, getting here still involves controlled alcohol intake. While many people and treatment centers follow the alcohol abstinence model, there are others that argue that drinking in moderation is effective. One research study on Veterans suggested that both models can decrease alcohol use to a degree, but those striving for abstinence were far more successful than those drinking in moderation.

A young man in the group explained that he had bipolar disorder, that he was feeling great on his new medication, but that there might be a problem when it comes to alcohol. “I’m not someone who drinks when they’re depressed, I drink when I’m up,” he said. “If I’m feeling good, I want to be out being social, and that means drinking.” The group offered some tips and tricks for sticking to the four-drink-a-night maximum, and for finding ways to be social without drinking. And now there is even a treatment center focused on moderation as a treatment goal. We encourage you to take the Alcohol Self-Assessment Tests on this website to start developing a better perspective on your drinking behavior and whether abstinence or moderation might be best for you. Keep in mind, however, that no self-assessment test or quiz can substitute for a face-to-face clinical evaluation by a treatment professional.

Alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous

My brother, once he got out of the hospital, began combining alcohol with whatever drugs he could come by, in an effort to deal with the fact that he’d be spending the rest of his life as a quadriplegic. Understanding how external factors will support or impede your success can help you determine if moderation is something that feels achievable within your current lifestyle and circumstances, or if sobriety is a more realistic goal. It’s also important to know that you can change certain circumstances, and therapy can aid in helping you set boundaries that empower your progress. This includes those managing liver disease, bipolar disorder, abnormal heart rhythms, or chronic pain. As a physician on the Monument platform, I speak with patients every day who are looking to change their drinking habits in order to improve their health and happiness. Once they’ve decided they want to make a change, a question many people find themselves asking is whether sobriety or moderation is a better option for them.
abstinence vs moderation
Individuals who received moderation training substantially reduced their alcohol consumption on average by 50-70% and, as a result, significantly reduced health and social problems related to their drinking. For some people, learning how to drinking more moderately and safely is a realistic and attainable goal. For others, moderation is a first step toward quitting alcohol entirely either temporarily or for the long term. Online alcohol treatment program can help you set moderation goals, make progress towards them, and evaluate what’s working for you over time. Drinking in moderation can be a viable pathway to a healthier life. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism , the definition of moderate alcohol use differs for men and women. Abstinence focuses on a personal goal for the non-indulgence of addictive substances.

Drinking in Moderation vs. Abstinence: What You Need to Know

Abstinence means giving up alcohol completely, and it’s the foundation of traditional treatment options like AA and most inpatient rehabs. But alcohol misuse is not a one-size-fits all problem, and neither is its solution. “I make plans for my non-drinking days so that I’m not thinking about it so much – I work out, I schedule late work meetings, so it’s not even a temptation,” Sober Home a tall, thin older woman says. Later, she explains that there was a time not long ago when the idea of getting through any day without five or six drinks seemed impossible to her. The population of people who use MM is pretty well educated and is made up for the most part of problem drinkers rather than those meeting full-blown alcohol dependence criteria.
Eco Sober House
You don’t have to live in a constant battle with these painful, nagging urges. To adhere to these principles, each type of drinker will have to make changes to his or her routine. The man cutting back to weekend use may not want to keep alcohol in the house during the week in order to decrease the decision fatigue that comes with easy access. He may want to exercise in the evenings or engage in some alternate pleasurable activity. The woman who typically binges may want to alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks to slow down her drinking; she may want commit to going home at a certain time on the weekend or not hanging out with certain friends. They might also benefit from naltrexone therapy, as discussed above.

Alcoholism Essential Reads

At Ria, we offer weekly meetings with certified counselors to help members stay on track and build skills for long-term change. Excessive drinking has numerous impacts on your body and mind, ranging from mild to severe. Learn which signs to look out for, and how to care for your well-being. Having grown up in Glasgow, there was no way abstinence was ever going to be his thing, but MM seemed like something he could handle. It also solved his ongoing dilemma of never knowing how much was too much. We decided to do a 30 together, and after two false starts – there was a party to go to! And a nice Italian dinner, which of course cannot go without wine – we are now 20 days in and feeling fine. It feels like something that might be very good to do once a year, in fact. MM encourages people to take the month of January off from drinking. A commentary on “Abstinence versus moderation recovery pathways following resolution of a substance use problem”.

I have often worked with people set on moderating, only to go a month or two abstinent and then report that they have never felt better and have no desire to return to using their substance of choice. For all we know, it might also be an option for people who do meet criteria for alcohol dependence but since the study we’re about to assess didn’t talk about it, we’ll leave that for later. Moderation can be helpful for those that are unwilling to abstain and are fearful of a life without their substance. Considering moderation may still be a scary decision for the person who has been using heavily for a long period of time and would be considered aharm reductionapproach. Harm reduction seeks to reduce the harm in a person’s life caused by the substance. If one is used to drinking 12 beers a day and now drinks 6, that would be reducing the harm in the individual’s life and a step in the direction towards moderation. This can open the door to change for someone who is resistant to stopping their addiction, while helping them gain momentum in a value driven direction. Rarely, if ever, do heavy drinkers choose to give up alcohol for good until they are convinced by their own experience that moderation is simply not attainable. What’s more, they refuse to define themselves as “alcoholic/addict” or give in to pressure to attend AA meetings.

If I am committed to abstinence, I do a hundred things to prevent myself drinking alcohol. Over time, these things become normal parts of my life and don’t take much effort; but the principle of abstinence continues to guide and shape my everyday choices. When you’re looking to drink in moderation, it’s a good idea to designate a few days as no-drinking days. Take some time to decide which days are OK to have a drink and which days are off-limits.

Among the 1% of Americans (2.8 million) who receive treatment for an alcohol use disorder each year, there are probably very few people with early-stage alcoholism. I say this because the “moderation” argument is used to justify the consumption of alcoholic beverages. I reject this idea because alcohol is one of those things not designed for human consumption and does not gain respectability through moderate use. This program practices the philosophy that people can learn how to overcome addiction without stopping drinking forever.

Why Moderation May Be a Better Choice Than Abstinence

At the end of four to six months of treatment with the Sinclair Method, 80% of people who had been overusing alcohol were either drinking moderately or abstaining entirely. I guess the best argument for abstinence is that alcohol consumption ruins a Christian’s credibility. You see, non-believers are not impressed by a Christian who is a “moderate” drinker. Like lukewarm beer, a lukewarm Christian doesn’t appeal to them much. There are no absolutes in the world abstinence vs moderation of relativity, and therefore there are no right or wrong answers to this question. Each individual is free to decide which path they choose, as each individual gets to experience the positive or negative consequences of their choices. Thinking back to past experiences with both approaches and getting honest with oneself is often the first step to take. Regardless of what has happened in the past, know that those patterns do not have to carry on moving forward.

Today, there are programs like Moderation Management, which do allow for a certain level of controlled drinking and have helped many learn to drink safely. Alcoholics Anonymous and other abstinence-based 12-step programs are the main form of treatment for alcoholism in the U.S. But many people are unable to stick with them and return to dependence on alcohol. Many people think that abstinence is the only solution for problem drinking.

Does sober mean no alcohol?

Someone who is sober is free from intoxication, as in, not drunk. But does being sober or having a sober lifestyle require an ongoing abstinence from alcohol? Yes, at least according to the standard medical definition of sobriety, a common view shared by popular recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.

This is not to say one may not go thorough a period of “day at a time,” or “week at a time,” or even try a “harm reduction” approach. Still, if you want the easiest way to minimize the problems in your life, go for abstinence eventually. It actually is much easier to just give it up entirely than punish yourself trying to moderate or control your addictive behavior. Studies have shown that regardless of the method employed to become sober, the number one factor for sobriety success is a permanent commitment to discontinue use permanently; a commitment to abstinence.

A drinking diary is one simple way to prevent unconscious slippage. Sharing that diary with a trusted friend can be even more powerful. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. One of the best things about moderating your alcohol use is filling those times spent drinking or obtaining alcohol with fun hobbies and activities.

  • It feels like something that might be very good to do once a year, in fact.
  • But many people are unable to stick with them and return to dependence on alcohol.
  • The man cutting back to weekend use may not want to keep alcohol in the house during the week in order to decrease the decision fatigue that comes with easy access.
  • Many of those starting off with more severe problems succeeded with moderation for a period of time, but eventually chose to abstain from alcohol completely.

You should take into account the severity of your drinking problem. You also need to think about any health, psychological, or other conditions that would be made worse by drinking. If you’re not sure of the best program for you, ask your healthcare provider or a substance abuse counselor for advice. Such reductions are very often the goal of treatment and as such, show some possible promise for the treatment of individuals with alcohol abuse problems. This option is generally intended for “problem drinkers”; i.e., non-alcoholics with less severe drinking problems who have not suffered life-damaging consequences from their drinking and have no prior history of alcohol dependence . Selecting a specific goal is an important part of any behavior change. What we know is that after one has developed a severe addiction, the simplest, easiest, safest and surest way to keep from repeating past behaviors is total abstinence.
abstinence vs moderation