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They may have adopted a sobriety challenge, such as Sober September or Dry January in order to gain the space to re-evaluate their relationship with alcohol. They might practice sobriety regularly with interspersed episodes of moderation. Or, they may have decided on sobriety as a permanent change in their lifestyle.

Many families of addicted loved ones find themselves wishing for their loved one to swing from one extreme clear over to the other. Their dearest wish becomes that their loved one never touch another drop, take another hit, etc. In fact they may have come to believe that 100% abstinence is the only acceptable solution.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Moderation

When out for a nice dinner or attending a get-together, she still wanted the freedom of having a drink or two. Her counselor agreed that limiting her drinking could be a good solution and they set a goal for Sara to cut back her consumption to these special occasions only. She admitted she was dependent on alcohol and started seeing a counselor. Take our short alcohol quiz to learn where you fall on the drinking spectrum and if you might benefit from quitting or cutting back on alcohol. When people aiming for abstinence make a mistake, they may feel like quitting is impossible and give up entirely.

  • These kinds of groups become a source of support from people who understand, who are looking for solidarity and hope.
  • This individual enjoys the effect produced by alcohol – just as the alcoholic does.
  • It’s already quite common to abstain in the real world; look no further than certain religions—e.g.
  • Abstinence is easily defined as when you abstain or choose not to partake in a particular activity.
  • On the surface, moderation probably seems easier, which could be why moderation is more common.

Large studies published in the past several years, he said, have established that no level of drinking is safe. As someone who drinks moderately, it would be absolutely wonderful if I could quaff a beer each night without any negatives. Alcohol is almost certainly bad for you, no matter how much you drink. It seems that moderate drinking probably isn’t good for our health after all. While there may be some minor heart health benefits, alcohol is addictive and causes damage to many other organs, so the trade-off is not in our favour.

Abstinence or Moderation? Drinking Goals in a Web-based Intervention for Veterans

Chiles points out the “tragedy” is that many people are frightened to seek support for their drinking because they believe they’ll be told that abstinence in their only option. He argues that because of this, “their consumption of alcohol won’t be addressed, and they’ll sink deeper into problem drinking territory and a level of dependence that means, abstinence, in the end, really could be the only answer”. Such reductions are very alcohol abstinence vs moderation often the goal of treatment and as such, show some possible promise for the treatment of individuals with alcohol abuse problems. What we know is that after one has developed a severe addiction, the simplest, easiest, safest and surest way to keep from repeating past behaviors is total abstinence. This is not to say one may not go thorough a period of “day at a time,” or “week at a time,” or even try a “harm reduction” approach.

  • In fact, even most research institutions and well-informed providers use total abstinence as the marker for addiction treatment success.
  • One reason that might explain the link between moderate drinking and lower mortality risk seen in some studies, the authors said, is that light and moderate drinkers tend to be healthier than abstainers.
  • “Our findings add one piece to the growing evidence that low to moderate alcohol drinking should not be recommended for health reasons,” Dr. John said.
  • Moderation can allow you to feel in control and like you are making progress.
  • More time at home may have contributed to less peer pressure to drink, less time in a “wet” culture, and lifestyle changes that might support a shift towards moderation.

You also don’t need to have a clear understanding of your goal to start making progress. First, let’s dive into the difference between abstinence (AKA sobriety) and moderation. While it can seem daunting to practice abstinence, limit your alcohol use, or seek treatment, you can find comfort in https://ecosoberhouse.com/ the fact that there is no definitive “correct” way to get where you want to be. Become a member of Allies in Recovery
and we’ll teach you how to intervene, communicate
and guide your loved one toward treatment. Dr. Arnold Washton is licensed to practice in New York, New Jersey, and Florida.

How to test if moderation can work

They’re able to enjoy an occasional drink while still avoiding negative drinking behaviors and consequences. The key premise of any approach is that moderate drinking is a practical and reasonable goal for those people who face less severe drinking issues. There are a great many differences in peoples’ over drinking behaviours and it is important for the therapist to assess and help the client manage their individual triggers for overdrinking. In addition, it is advantageous to identify the client’s personal motivation for change. Ideally the client will develop a toolkit of strategies to facilitate the behaviour changes. 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.

alcohol abstinence vs moderation

Learning more about your options and the health benefits of cutting back is already a meaningful step. 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. More people than ever are recognizing the negative effects of drinking alcohol and re-evaluating how it shows up in their life.

Spend time self-reflecting

There are people who abstain, but by and large we love to drink alcohol – it’s part of our social culture, part of our collective identity, and so pervasive that it can be hard to escape from even if you try. As anyone who’s attempted a Dry July can attest, booze is something that we are all connected to in myriads of ways. An Alliesinrecovery.net member worries about her son who is 1,500 miles away, since his binge drinking continues to be a regular reality. She asks if working on her own patience is the only thing she can do now. She can absolutely still use the CRAFT approach, and there is also the whole world of online recovery options to reference.

This idea is so pervasive that most addiction treatment providers actually expel clients for relapsing, a notion that makes no sense to me especially if you believe in the idea that addiction is a chronic disease. In fact, even most research institutions and well-informed providers use total abstinence as the marker for addiction treatment success. However, because of how severe and sometimes life-threatening the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be, it is not recommended.

Inpatient Treatment

We offer two types of treatment options for people who want help for drinking problems. One option is abstinence-based treatment for individuals who have decided to stop drinking completely and want to stay stopped over the long term. Their decision is often the result of failed attempts at controlled drinking and/or suffering severe alcohol-related consequences. Rarely, if ever, do heavy drinkers choose to give up alcohol for good until they are convinced by their own experience that moderation is simply not attainable. What’s more, they refuse to define themselves as “alcoholic/addict” or give in to pressure to attend AA meetings.

alcohol abstinence vs moderation