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In sum, research suggests that achieving and sustaining moderate substance use after treatment is feasible for between one-quarter to one-half of individuals with AUD when defining moderation as nonhazardous drinking. While there is evidence that a subset of individuals who use drugs engage in low-frequency, non-dependent drug use, there is insufficient research on this population to determine the proportion for whom moderation is a feasible treatment goal. However, among individuals with severe SUD and high-risk drug or alcohol use, the urgency of reducing substance-related harms presents a compelling argument for engaging these individuals in harm reduction-oriented treatment and interventions. AA was established in 1935 as a nonprofessional mutual aid group for people who desire abstinence from alcohol, and its 12 Steps became integrated in SUD treatment programs in the 1940s and 1950s with the emergence of the Minnesota Model of treatment (White & Kurtz, 2008). The Minnesota Model involved inpatient SUD treatment incorporating principles of AA, with a mix of professional and peer support staff (many of whom were members of AA), and a requirement that patients attend AA or NA meetings as part of their treatment (Anderson, McGovern, & DuPont, 1999; McElrath, 1997). This model both accelerated the spread of AA and NA and helped establish the abstinence-focused 12-Step program at the core of mainstream addiction treatment.

alcohol abstinence vs moderation

By addressing emotional triggers head-on, recovering alcoholics can reduce the likelihood of relapse and maintain their commitment to a sober life. Choosing to indulge in de-alcoholized drinks or mocktails may seem like a harmless alternative, but even these seemingly innocent beverages can be triggering for some. Consuming such substitutes can lead to a placebo-drunk-like sensation, ultimately increasing the likelihood of a relapse into alcohol addiction.

Expanding the continuum of substance use disorder treatment: Nonabstinence approaches

Seek skilled guidance from an addiction psychologist to get feedback when selecting goals, assessing progress, and setting appropriate boundaries. It’s already quite common to abstain in the real world; look no further than certain alcohol abstinence vs moderation religions—e.g. Similarly, there were teetotalers and prohibitionists who tried to ban alcohol altogether throughout the twentieth century. There is no wrong answer, no one-size-fits-all when it comes to cutting down or quitting.

Rehab facilities achieve this through random urine drug screens, group treatment programs, and care coordination. When your goal is only one drink instead of no drinks at all, the temptation to stray can become less powerful and you can more often enjoy positive reinforcement from your successes. Once you are able to control how much you drink, you may find that you’re better able to enjoy family gatherings, social events, and work events. Another possible option is using medications such as naltrexone or disulfiram along with psychotherapy.

Abstinence vs. Moderation: Which Path is Right?

By seeking professional help, building a strong support network, and developing effective coping strategies, individuals can overcome the challenges of recovery and enjoy a fulfilling, alcohol-free life. Remember, the path to long-term recovery is a personal journey, and finding the right approach for your unique situation is essential for success. Supportive friends and family members play a crucial role in addiction recovery, offering understanding and respect for the individual’s decision to remain sober. By surrounding themselves with positive influences, recovering alcoholics can find encouragement and reinforcement in their commitment to sobriety.

Is Drinking in Moderation Possible for Alcoholics? – Verywell Mind

Is Drinking in Moderation Possible for Alcoholics?.

Posted: Sat, 24 Sep 2022 07:00:00 GMT [source]

In 1990, Marlatt was introduced to the philosophy of harm reduction during a trip to the Netherlands (Marlatt, 1998). He adopted the language and framework of harm reduction in his own research, and in 1998 published a seminal book on harm reduction strategies for a range of substances and behaviors (Marlatt, 1998). Marlatt’s work inspired the development of multiple nonabstinence treatment models, including harm reduction psychotherapy (Blume, 2012; Denning, 2000; Tatarsky, 2002). Additionally, while early studies of SUD treatment used abstinence as the single measure of treatment effectiveness, by the late 1980s and early 1990s researchers were increasingly incorporating psychosocial, health, and quality of life measures (Miller, 1994). The choice between harm reduction vs. abstinence is most often made by an individual after careful reflection and introspection. Are you someone who likes to ease into things, or do you prefer an all-or-nothing approach to change?

Abstinence Vs. Moderation Management: Success and Outcomes

The goal of a moderation program is to support a person’s journey toward understanding their drinking behavior and create a safe environment for them to explore how to drink moderately. There are bountiful resources available to you if you are considering treatment, a support group, or even tips on how to moderate or abstain from alcohol. You have already made the crucial first step of evaluating alcohol in your life. Contacting a treatment provider

can help you determine the next steps in your journey. Furthermore, when alcohol begins to take priority over friends and family, work responsibilities, or personal health, it may be time to consider a treatment plan.

alcohol abstinence vs moderation

It’s considered that those without a physical dependence on alcohol, such as mild to moderate use disorder are more likely able to reduce their intake to safer levels and move forward to live happier lives. If moderation is your chosen objective, then I would suggest you try it and see how you get on, you wont know if it’s possible until you commit to a structured approach, track your journey towards moderate drinking and review your progress. 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. In order to be included in that original study, an individual had to be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder, report a minimum average weekly drinking of 16+ drinks for women and 25+ for men, and express interest in a moderation approach to changing their drinking. Abstinence is essential for recovering alcoholics to reach their goals and maintain their sobriety.

Strengths and Limitations of This Review

Abstinence from alcohol has been proven to be the most effective way to maintain sobriety, especially for recovering alcoholics. Seeking professional help from experts at institutions like Lantana can empower individuals to live a happy and sober life, increasing their chances for long-term recovery by offering valuable education and guidance. While your relationship with alcohol is entirely personal, reflecting on outside influences can be helpful when considering the relative benefits of sobriety or moderation. These influences may include family dynamics, workplace culture, friendships, strained relationships, and lifestyle elements. Though sobriety has a clear definition, you may still be asking yourself, what is sobriety, and what will it mean to me? Oftentimes it can mean learning how to manage cravings, engaging in alcohol treatment, finding community, and introducing alcohol alternatives into your daily life.