Sober living

Abstinence versus moderation recovery pathways following resolution of a substance use problem: Prevalence, predictors, and relationship to psychosocial well-being in a U S. national sample

Besides the obvious health benefits, taking a break from drinking is the fastest way to figure out what’s really behind your desire. This radically different approach helps you succeed by dropping alcohol abstinence vs moderation the perfectionism and judgment that blocks change. 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.

There are many different pathways to success, and the key lies in finding which particular pathway works best for each person. As part of the evaluation process, we help clients understand where they are in terms of the nature and severity of their alcohol problem and their chances of succeeding at moderation. We explain the benefits of not drinking at all and routinely encourage all new clients to start with a period of abstinence, even if their ultimate goal is moderation. Clients who choose abstinence after being unable to moderate consistently are often more motivated and personally invested in making abstinence work for them.

Make Silicon Beach Behavioral Health Your Way to Wellness

What I’m talking to all of you about, what I’m teaching here on this podcast, what I teach my clients is how to change your desire. So imagine that knob controls your desire and you can slowly start to turn it down. Why we’re fixated on either abstinence or moderation when it comes to drinking. Even people who are really into it don’t go to meetings all the time. Some people can’t go to meetings at all because they don’t exist in a lot of places, they just follow the program online. This is Moderation Management (MM), a program whose rising popularity and success rate is posing the first real challenge in decades to the traditional, black and white approach to addiction.

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. Whether via self-talk or a conversation with a trusted friend, family member, or healthcare professional, it’s important to talk about your urges and remind yourself why you chose to moderate your drinking in the first place. Learning to accept these feelings, and finding healthy ways to distract yourself from them, will also go a long way toward helping you to handle any urges to drink. The Sinclair method is an approach that involves taking either Revia or Vivitrol before people drink. These medications minimize the endorphin release in the brain that usually accompanies drinking. Because this makes drinking less pleasurable, people are less likely to crave alcohol.

Total Alcohol Abstinence vs. Moderation: Which One Wins in the End?

There’s also specialized alcohol therapy where you receive a personalized treatment plan catered to you and your goals. Lastly, you can join free, therapist-moderated alcohol support groups to get encouragement and gain accountability in a non-judgmental and secure forum. If you don’t consider yourself an alcoholic or don’t feel comfortable labeling yourself one, practicing moderation helps you avoid having that discussion when you’re not in the mood. You don’t have to attend AA meetings and introduce yourself as an alcoholic, and you don’t have to answer questions at parties or social gatherings when people notice you aren’t drinking.

Should you drink in moderation or abstain completely?

Moderation is a nice goal, but based on your physical health, mental health, and addiction history, it may be unsafe or impossible to maintain. Abstinence is tough to achieve, but with support and coping skills, it may be the best option for you and your loved ones.

I make a decision right now for me that alcohol doesn’t serve me. It doesn’t keep my commitment of growing and evolving. It keeps me stuck in cycle of immediate gratification. And certainly, most everything out there about changing your drinking or dealing with the habit of drinking isn’t about being your own best authority.

The Moderation Management Plan

I can’t know what’s right for you, but I can promise you this. Restraining yourself or fixating on a number is not going to get you where you want to go. And I just want to say this; I think for a lot of people, that level of empowerment is scary.

I didn’t realize that there was this thing called the think-feel-act cycle that would explain why I had all the desire I had. It wasn’t because of how I was born or this belief that I had for a long time, “Oh, I must have an addictive personality.” It was simply because of the thoughts I was thinking. Yes, alcohol, when you consume it, creates a dopamine response in your brain. We’re not taught that we can separate out the dopamine response that is happening from the desire that we are feeling. Because you believe that your desire is fixed and that alcohol creates it.

It’s stuck, and you got to learn to live with it, or you have to try to find a lot of ways to escape the sound of it. Maybe you go to a different room, maybe you try to put headphones on. And if we look up the word abstinence, one of the definitions you will find is the practice of restraining oneself from indulging in something. The fact or practice of restraining oneself from indulging in something. How the idea of abstinence strips you of your power and free will.

  • Whether you’re working towards sobriety or moderate alcohol intake, the most important thing is to keep going.
  • Members can take advantage of in-person meetings, just like AA offers, or opt for online encounters that serve the same purpose while providing more flexibility.
  • This makes a lot of sense as it takes out the guesswork and allows the mind to simply focus on one thing–abstinence under all circumstances.
  • Pushing against this massive force born of years of addiction is your willpower, already weakened by a drink.
  • But for the sober-curious drinker, it can be the first step toward a healthier way of life.
  • Psychotherapy can help you understand your struggles with alcohol.

I would just say no thanks and then move on and be done with it. I’m not up in my head wondering, “Maybe I could really have some milk. Maybe I should remind myself how bad milk is for me.” I’m not doing any of that because I just don’t have any desire for it so it’s just so clean and simple. How the focus on abstinence and moderation are totally wrong.

Having grown up in Glasgow, there was no way abstinence was ever going to be his thing, but MM seemed like something he could handle. It also solved his ongoing dilemma of never knowing how much was too much. We decided to do a 30 together, and after two false starts – there was a party to go to!

abstinence vs moderation

Alcohol had taken its toll—her job, friends, family, and health had all suffered—and she wanted it out of her life. Her counselor agreed that abstinence was a good solution and they took steps to help Reagan achieve this goal. When you quit drinking for thirty days, you can enjoy the health benefits of not drinking alcohol.

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