Abstinence Or Moderation: Is There A Correct Choice?

The negative effects of your drinking may have turned you off of alcohol entirely, and that’s completely okay. If your reason for choosing abstinence is simply that you want to, that’s a perfectly valid reason to quit alcohol altogether. You have experienced enough consequences in your life that no one needs to tell you that you are fed up with your addictive behavior. If you are just starting your recovery program it may take time to make a decision on a commitment to abstinence before it is really firm in your heart.

  • She had been able to continue to work and function relatively independently and had become involved in Alcoholics Anonymous as an effort to control her alcohol use and abuse.
  • Our treatment experts teach patients how to maintain abstinence to ensure they achieve long-term sobriety from alcohol and drugs.
  • For a person who is not dependent on alcohol, the Journal of Consulting Clinical Psychology reports that a moderation management program can reduce the amount of alcohol a person drinks and also minimize problems that are related to alcohol consumption.
  • Regular participation in a 12-Step program like AA that requires abstinence has been shown to be beneficial to long-term recovery, as published by the Journal of Addictive Disorders.
  • Understanding your relationship with alcohol is easier said than done, but there are some signs to look out for if you or a loved one are dealing with alcohol abuse.

Fortunately for us, some recent research about Moderation Management and a newly developed website application component introduced me to some new evidence regarding moderate alcohol drinking that will allow us to look even more deeply into the problem. And now there is even a treatment center focused on moderation as a treatment goal. Through Moderation Management’s Steps of Change, individuals are able to assess how drinking impacts their lives and learn how to better manage drinking-related problems. Through the Steps of Change, a person is asked to initially chart their drinking, write down all the issues that alcohol has created in their life, and keep a drinking diary of how much and how often they drink. Through this diary, a person can then look at how alcohol is involved in their daily life and identify potential problems. Moderation management can help heavy drinkers consume alcohol more consciously and responsibly.

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While research shows long-term benefits to abstinence, this approach can leave out those who want to change their drinking habits but are not ready to abstain completely. Many treatment facilities require that their “clients” alcohol abstinence vs moderation remain substance-free, which may deter those wanting to adapt their relationship with alcohol. Many treatment facilities and support groups aim to help individuals achieve and maintain long-term sobriety through abstinence.

The program operates virtually so that members remain truly anonymous, and lifetime membership isn’t a requirement. Labels of addiction aren’t a part of this program, because there is no shame involved. Absent of religious affiliation, SMART Recovery teaches members the tools they need to practically handle their substance abuse problems without a commitment to a higher power, but more so with a commitment to themselves. The program is most popular with alcohol abusers, but isn’t solely aligned with them.

Alcohol Moderation Management Programs

Total abstinence is not the only option when changing your relationship with alcohol. For some people, drinking in moderation can be a viable pathway to a healthier life. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the definition of moderate alcohol use differs for men and women. After a period of moderate drinking, some people end up achieving abstinence anyway.

Is moderation better than abstinence?

When is abstinence a better choice? Although moderation may be a good starting point for many drinkers, it is not the best approach for everyone with a drinking problem. People with severe drinking problems generally find moderation difficult to maintain and often do better with abstinence.

Audrey Kishline was unable to follow her own rules of the MM program and admits that it might not be an effective strategy for everyone, including her. There is a great debate between the pros and cons of moderation versus complete abstinence. Regular participation in a 12-Step program like AA that requires abstinence has been shown to be beneficial to long-term recovery, as published by the Journal of Addictive Disorders.

Techniques for Moderation

By doing so, you may even identify any triggers that cause you to drink—for example, certain social situations, stress from work, or even boredom. Still, when it comes to looking at entire population, most individuals that abuse alcohol are specifically NOT those more severe cases, which means the results might actually be more generalizable. https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/alcohol-and-aging-does-alcohol-make-you-look-older/ In case you’ve never heard of Moderation Management (MM), you should check out their website. Moderation management offers face-to-face and online meetings, a listserv, a forum, online alcohol drinking limit guidelines, a self-help book that can be ordered through the site, and an online calendar where users can report their drinking.

  • These goals differ from person to person and range from total abstinence to reduced alcohol consumption.
  • 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.
  • “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,” a tall, thin older woman says.
  • The moderation management philosophy highlights the importance of taking an individualized approach to a complex issue like alcohol consumption.
  • These individuals may be naturally finding ways in their environment to help them reduce or abstain (e.g., seeking social support), for example, or automatically using cognitive strategies to help them stick to limits on days they drink.

So for him, meetings have always seemed more like a way to get group therapy without either paying for it or admitting to needing it. While there is a framework to MM, based on Kern’s book Responsible Drinking, it’s also a program that prides itself on flexibility and enabling people to find their own paths forward. Three out of the 10 people at the meeting I attended said they weren’t ready to do a 30 yet, but were planning shorter breaks.

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