Sober living

Recovery: Abstinence vs Moderation

You know yourself and your drinking habits better than anyone, and putting thought into the decision can reveal powerful insights. It’s also important to remember that it’s not a permanent line between “moderate drinkers” and “abstainers.” You can always reevaluate your relationship with alcohol and revisit your goals. Moderation management and harm reduction doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, much like abstinence based treatment doesn’t work for everyone either. Generally speaking, abstinence alcohol abstinence vs moderation based treatment is considered more effective for chronic drug users and alcohol abusers. Drug abusers and individuals with alcohol dependence who are slightly less severe on the spectrum with less debilitating use are prone to respond well to harm reduction or moderation management treatment. There are no two individuals who are exactly the same, no two substance abusers who have the same exact behaviors, and there is no singular method of treatment that will work for every single person.

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.

In its twenty-year history, Moderation Management has helped thousands of people through peer-run support groups. But the organization knows that the MM program may not be appropriate for all heavy drinkers. In some situations, moderation management can work, but it’s not for everyone. A membership at Allies in Recovery brings you into contact with experts in the fields of recovery and treatment for drug and alcohol issues.

Who Is Most Likely to Benefit from Moderation-focused Alcohol Treatment?

This idea does not suggest that recovery is as simple as “mind-over-matter,” but Peele believes that people can set an intention to quit in line with their values without the need for inpatient or outpatient treatments. Support groups based on sobriety, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), find success through fellowship. AA works on social interaction where members give each other emotional support and practical tips to refrain from drinking. Research even suggests that fellowship can help more people achieve sobriety than therapy. This is because not only is it beneficial to be surrounded by those who share a similar goal to you, but it can also be validating to witness others’ struggles that mirror your own.

abstinence vs moderation

So, based on the usual guideline of rewarding non-use and disengaging when there is use, you are going to slide down the scale a bit – from “zero tolerance” to tolerating one or two drinks. And if you don’t know how to do that right now, that’s okay. It’s something that you have to be committed to learning. And you know what, you should want to be in charge of yourself. We’re often making the decision to say yes as a way to tune out of our body.

The potential benefits of quitting, at least temporarily

In other words, the idea is that you are constantly battling a beast inside yourself that wants to lure you back to substance abuse. The program allows participants to consider themselves fully recovered on day one and to operate with that mindset moving forward. Abstaining is the most traditional treatment method surrounding drug and alcohol abuse. This method involves completely avoiding substance use and abuse.

These are all valid reasons, and many can accomplish their goals without needing a treatment center. However, a thin line can divide when it’s appropriate to seek treatment or when moderation or abstinence is enough. “Harm reduction” strategies, or moderation techniques, set more flexible goals in line with patient motivation. These goals differ from person to person and range from total abstinence to reduced alcohol consumption. It is important to note that moderation techniques work best with those concerned with their drinking habits but who are not diagnosed with an alcohol addiction.

Spend time self-reflecting

It’s a reflection of actually what’s happening inside of me in terms of my desire. Because let me tell you this, I know what it’s like to abstain. And it feels nothing like where I am today because I didn’t realize back then that my desire was something that I actually had power to change. And when you truly learn to change your desire, you don’t need to restrain yourself. You don’t need to be worried about the threat of indulging because the desire to drink is absent. It’s why I don’t say that I abstain from drinking, even though I don’t go out to a restaurant and order a cocktail, even though I don’t end my day with a glass of wine, which is what I used to do.

abstinence vs moderation

To say you’re in charge, you are your own best authority. Because people don’t teach us how to do this, how to be in charge of ourselves, how to be our own best authority. It’s engaging with those questions and being curious and inquisitive and finding out what the answers are for you. And then once you are armed with the knowledge, then you get to decide what’s right for you. They’re just looking for someone to say, hey, here’s the magic number. Just never have more than two drinks in a sitting and here’s how you do it.