Abstinence vs Moderation Realize Behavioral Health

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. Uncertainty about which direction to choose is normal at the early stages of recovery and can remain for years to come. If you are considering which path may be best for you, it can be helpful to first identify what your main goals are with your substance for the near future. It is often recommended for those with their minds set on moderation to experience a period of complete abstinence in order to have something to compare abstinence with.

  • I say this because the “moderation” argument is used to justify the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  • Many of the most common forms of alcohol addiction treatment promote complete abstinence and sobriety; however, alcoholism is a complex and highly personal disease, and this method may not be ideal for everyone.
  • Her story highlights the importance of seeking the right kind of treatment for excessive drinking.
  • 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.

It challenges traditional methods, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), by allowing participants to determine the most effective path for their unique needs. Moderation management is a method you can use to address excessive drinking and manage drinking behaviors. Not everyone who drinks alcohol will suffer from harmful consequences, however.

How Moderation Management Programs Work

More people than ever are recognizing the negative effects of drinking alcohol and re-evaluating how it shows up in their life. 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

It often aids in staving off concerns from others in their life, too. Of course, while critics of MM are quick to point out the potential for falsely subscribing to program practices, the same can be said of abstainers. Personal accountability is a big part of MM, just as it is with AA. https://ecosoberhouse.com/ Today, there is a strong push for help on the pharmaceutical front that can assist some problem drinkers in curbing their alcohol abuse. Naltrexone has aided in inhibiting the desired high many drinkers receive from alcohol abuse, and thus, it makes many lose the desire to seek it.

Consider Past Success and Potential Costs of Moderation

Individuals participating in MM will continue to assess their drinking. If a relapse occurs, they may need to reevaluate drinking levels or even return to a 30-day abstinent period. Moderation Management groups may meet in person or through an online forum, and meetings are held all around the country. MM also offers an online chat room and a public hub curated blogging site for its members.

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. Moderation management has been found most successful for those who have a problem with drinking but who do not meet the criteria and have not been diagnosed with moderate or severe alcohol use disorder. For years, the answer was assumed to be no, there is no room for “just one drink” for anyone with a drinking problem. 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. Other critics have concerns that the MM program will give abstinent substance abusers the idea that they can return to using and keep it under control.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Moderation

Kishline developed the Moderation Management program after consulting with alcohol addiction treatment professionals. The organization also supports members who choose abstinence when necessary. Audrey Kishline founded Moderation Management in 1994 as an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other recovery programs. She believed that cognitive behavioral therapy principles could help drinkers who did not identify as alcoholics. There are no absolutes in the world 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.

Is abstinence 100% failure rate?

Even with that potentially generous estimate of 42.5 – 50%, abstinence has the lowest effectiveness rate in typical use of all methods.

How the idea of abstinence strips you of your power and free will. 2 things we are taught about alcohol and desire that are simply wrong. Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

After her release from prison, Kishline eventually died by suicide. Her story highlights the importance of seeking the right kind of treatment for excessive drinking. For behavioral addictions such as shopping, eating and in some cases sex, moderation is a necessity and therefore points to the ability for individuals to be able to learn how to have a different relationship with their addiction. One of the best things about moderating your alcohol use is filling those times spent drinking or obtaining alcohol with fun hobbies and activities. 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.

Also interesting that, as the study authors point out,  all groups improved to varying degrees particularly in terms of fewer drinks per drinking day. The program operates virtually so that members remain truly anonymous, and lifetime membership isn’t a requirement. Labels of addiction aren’t abstinence vs moderation 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.

Alcohol Management Program: Moderation or Abstinence

Decide what works best for you when it comes to drinking. Discover how to trust yourself and feel truly powered to take it or leave it. Head on over to RachelHart.com/join and start your transformation today. Study authors used data from their prior randomized trial that tested two motivational interventions and one comparison condition where individuals were simply encouraged to reduce their drinking taking place over 7 weeks. Believe it or not, abstinence isn’t the only path people try to take to sobriety. While it may sound like a bit of an oxymoron, some believe that addicts and substance abusers can achieve sobriety while still drinking alcohol or using drugs on occasion.

abstinence vs moderation