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Abstinence Vs Moderation. abstinence Is Not A Commitment To Be

The Moderation Management program is viewed as a method for problem drinkers who do not have serious substance use disorders to control their behavior before they develop a moderate to severe substance use disorder. Many individuals who suffer issues from alcohol abuse can choose between getting involved in abstinence-based programs or moderation-based programs.

Bonnie said that lately she’s noticed an increase in the number of people who attend Moderation Management meetings at the recommendation of their therapist. The growing acceptance by the medical establishment is an encouraging sign for a group that many members say they had to Google their way to discovering. However, as with all behavioral health interventions, it ultimately falls to the person struggling with these problems to put forward the effort necessary to make them successful.

  • For instance, some people are atheists and the faith based program makes them uncomfortable.
  • When considering moderation it is important to take into account the level of effort required to do so successfully.
  • Most of them avoid those programs because they don’t want the “alcoholic” label.
  • MM does not attempt to present itself as the only successful approach to deal with alcohol abuse issues.
  • Some individuals can be successful at moderating their use of alcohol , whereas others may not be able to do so.
  • Shopping is something everyone eventually needs to do and it’s hard for many of us to be moderate with it!

We are able to test incoming patients and anyone feeling unwell to ensure peace of mind and focus on addiction treatment. We are here to help you learn how to live without reaching for the next drink. At our beautiful oasis, located in Las Vegas, Nevada, all levels of care including detox, in-patient, outpatient and sober living. Certainly, the legal system would frown upon an individual who has received one or more DUI convictions attempting to continue to drink as most courts demand abstinence from these individuals while they are on probation. Moderation in alcohol use is often the first step taken by nearly everyone who attempts to reduce problems they experience with their drinking. Unfortunately, some rehab centers teach patients how to moderate their use rather than having them abstain entirely. Science shows that the severity of addiction influences the risk of relapse .

Who Is Moderation Management For?

What’s more, once you’ve violated your sobriety, you may feel like you might as well go all the way. Both programs offer face-to-face and online support group meetings. There are other tools, as well, including online forums, books, and one-on-one peer support.

abstinence vs moderation

In part, this is because that disempowering approach isn’t helpful for people victimized or disenfranchised by society. Moderation programs spend a shorter period determining if moderation is a workable solution.

For example, I haven’t eaten gluten-containing foods for around four years. At first, I felt deprived by avoiding gluten, but I wasn’t really tempted to eat it because I didn’t want to suffer adverse effects. Fortunately, there are now many tasty substitutions for some of my favorite baked goods that I abstinence vs moderation can either buy or make, so I no longer feel all that deprived. Plus, I’ve gone so long without eating gluten that I don’t think much about it anymore. Moderators and Abstainers are often very judgmental toward each other, as they both believe that their way of approaching temptation is the right way.

How To Attend A Moderation Management Meeting

Moderation allows these people to start taking steps toward treatment with being labeled “alcoholics” or forcing them to confront their denial. If it doesn’t, then simply trying moderation first may help the person with alcohol use disorder realize that they need to try abstinence. Care providers in Sweden have different views on how alcohol problems should be treated. Some suggest that people with alcohol dependence Alcoholism in family systems can learn to control their drinking, while others believe these people should practice total abstinence. In addition, people who don’t practice an abstinence approach to recovery may develop an addiction to another substance. For example, a person with an opioid use disorder who has committed to abstaining from opioids may develop an alcohol use disorder if they do not commit to complete abstinence.

When you’re rule is abstinence, you know immediately when you’ve crossed the line. David Bohl is Executive Director of Kiva Recovery, the trusted resource in addiction treatment.

Through our phone-in program, we are able to help clients nationwide. I think even your periodic times of abstaining from shopping are part of your moderating shopping. Your approach toward shopping seems abstinence vs moderation to be very healthy and I hope to get to that place myself. My lifestyle is very much like yours, as is my climate, so I think a smaller wardrobe like yours and less frequent shopping would be ideal.

abstinence vs moderation

Getting the substances out of your system only changes you physically; psychologically, you are still addicted. Lovato said she was reluctant to share her use of substances for fear she’d be criticized and because of concern someone would make a decision about their own recovery based on hers.

Some Tips On Abstaining And Moderating

Such factors make a comparison between successful abstinence and moderation all but impossible. Although the volume of published data on Moderation Management pales in comparison to research into an abstinence-based group such as Alcoholics Anonymous , it does suggest it is effective at reducing alcohol-related problems and consumption. Humphreys and a colleague conducted a survey of the moderation group’s members, from which they concluded that most people were not simply delaying an inevitable transition to abstinence. One such group is Moderation Management, which holds sessions throughout the country to help give habitual and risky drinkers the necessary skills to keep their alcohol consumption in check. It was through her participation in this group that Bonnie said she was finally able to manage her alcohol consumption, despite several initial relapses. “It involves not only how much they’re drinking but also specifically what they’re drinking, and thinking about how it might be impacting their lives,” he said.

She never exceeds the amount she has designated and isn’t even tempted to do so. She knows that she will be able to eat more M&Ms the following day, so that quells any desire to binge on sweets. Abstainers would find this type of strategy impossible, as having that small taste of chocolate and knowing there is more of it lingering around would lead them to think of chocolate all day long. They find it much more peaceful and empowering to say, “I don’t eat chocolate,” which frees them from the temptation to eat it and the obsession of thinking about it. Moderation is based on the idea that if we deny ourselves something altogether, it will result in binging or falling farther “off the wagon” in the future. However, in many instances, it can be easier to resist certain temptations by never giving in to them in the first place. Sometimes when we deprive ourselves completely of something such that it’s not even an option for us to entertain, we end up feeling less deprived.

abstinence vs moderation

For some people, treatment models that adhere to absolute abstinence are not desirable or realistic in their lifestyle. For many, alcohol plays a role in social gatherings, either for pleasure or in work-related situations. However, MM doesn’t work for everyone, especially those with significant life problems and moderate to severe alcohol use disorder. There’s no single solution for problem drinking because no two people are the same. For that reason, everyone needs to try different approaches to find one that works for them. Typically, a member does not drink to the point of having a blood alcohol content exceeding 0.55; charts are available at meetings that indicate the number of drinks leading to specific blood alcohol content values based on gender and weight.


Always eat a meal before drinking, or have a drink with your meal. Food helps to absorb alcohol and slows how fast alcohol is absorbed into your system. Like other support groups, the members who run MM aren’t professionals. They’re regular people who joined the program to fix personal problems and stayed to assist others. Since its founding, MM became the first moderation-based support entry on the NIAAA website. Also, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration lists it as an evidence-based program.

Though it has not been confirmed by her family, two respected professionals in the addiction field have stated publicly that her death was a suicide. However, deep down, we know that after a few weeks or even months, occasionally would no longer be enough.

Generally, moderation can be considered a level of involvement with an addictive behavior that has no significant costs. People sometimes mistake cutting back to a less harmful level of involvement as moderation (e.g. “I used to drink a fifth a day, now I only drink about 10 beers”). Both harm-reduction and moderation approaches are valuable approaches to change, and it is important to distinguish between the two. In working out a moderation plan with Practical Recovery there are a number of questions that may be considered.

abstinence vs moderation

Speaking of thoughtfulness, some bar pros suggest doing away with the term “mocktail” as it can be considered disrespectful. The sober and sober curious may not be interested in beers that have any percentage of alcohol. With the beverage business exploding with innovations, it’s not that challenging to respect and serve these important consumers’ needs. Some bar, nightclub and restaurant owners and operators are justifiably unnerved by the Sober Curious and Moderation Movements. After all, Nielsen says that 83 percent of Americans abstaining from or reducing their intake of alcohol this year intend to do so next year as well. Pleasedo not use this form to submit personal or patient medical information or to report adverse drug events. You are encouraged to report adverse drug event information to the FDA.

For a while, the only two foods that I would overeat were popcorn and chips with guacamole. At this point, I no longer eat popcorn because it no longer sits well with me, and although I rarely eat chips with guacamole (and when I do, the chips are a grain-free version), I’m now able to moderate how much I consume. If a careful effort at moderate drinking does not result in progress, abstinence is advised. This varies from one person to the next but many individuals are able to successfully achieve the goals they have set for themselves within 2-3 months. Progress can be enhanced by simultaneous attendance in the self help program MM . Along with the focus on drinking, alcohol treatment, both traditional and non-traditional, attends to family and work stress, self esteem and loneliness — all of which may contribute to problems with alcohol.


I have known social smokers, too, but I don’t think they are all that common. I agree with you that a person can be BOTH an abstainer and a moderator, depending on the issue. And as I wrote about, this can shift over time with a given abstinence vs moderation substance or habit. I’ve always been a natural moderator with food and thought that I could do it with shopping as well, but I’ve discovered I can’t. I am tempted to cheat every day, but so far I have resisted (it’s been 2 months).

Posted by: Ann Pietrangelo

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