PRIME PubMed Alcohol abstinence vs moderation Degree of dependence predicts which strategy works best

On the other hand, moderation curbs addiction through a focus on substance abuse patterns such as why and when a person indulges in these substances as well as the maintenance of high levels of accountability. The most common type of addiction is drug and substance addiction. However, other types of addiction prevalent include gambling, sex, work, food, and co-dependency. In spite of abstinence being the most renowned drug addiction treatment, other methods such as moderation and avoidance have been deemed effective.

abstinence vs moderation

Abstinence exposes voids and unmet needs in your life that you may be filling up or distracting yourself from with alcohol. Abstinence gives you a chance to break old habits, experience a change, and build some confidence. Alcohol support groups to get encouragement and gain accountability in a non-judgmental and secure forum. Regardless of your path, working with a physician and therapist can provide answers, reassurance, and guidance throughout the process.

What is Moderation?

Hen he was 18, someone attacked my twin brother on the US marine corps base where he was stationed. They stabbed him 14 times through the neck, bashed his head in with a blunt object and then tossed him out of a second-story window. He had been lying outside for hours by the time he was found, and he was dumped off at a hospital with someone else’s dog tags. At the time, the marines tried to frame it as an attempted suicide. His doctors later testified that it was physically impossible for his injuries to be self-inflicted, and the marine corps relented and agreed to pay his medical abstinence vs moderation bills. The US might be another decade away from, as Kern puts it, “taking full ownership as a society that there are many roads to recovery”, but other countries have been quicker to embrace MM. The UK National Health Service promoted “dry January” this year, while Australia has “Sober October”. There are currently MM meetings in England, Scotland, Ireland, Thailand, Germany, Belgium and Canada. This is Moderation Management , 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.

abstinence vs moderation

If you have health problems related to alcohol, it may be unsafe to drink at all, period. In this case, abstinence is the best way forward for your health and safety. By quitting drinking completely, your body can begin to repair the damage caused by alcohol. 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 Sober Home yourself as an alcoholic, and you don’t have to answer questions at parties or social gatherings when people notice you aren’t drinking. From day one, Ria Health has offered support for the Sinclair Method—a medication-based approach to moderate drinking or abstinence with a 78 percent success rate. In addition to making my family forever suspicious of anyone in uniform, the experience sent three out of the four members of my nuclear family straight into substance abuse.

An online alcohol intervention (VetChange) reduces male veteran drinking, but more research needed for women

Medication makes it easier to put the brakes on after a drink or two, and sticking to moderation is challenging without it. If you want to resolve problem drinking without medication, abstinence may be a better choice for you. My dad also ended up in AA, but it’s never seemed like quite the right fit. His bigger issue has always been depression more than drinking, but he’s part of a generation of men that think therapy is for the weak.

How many drinks per week is Alcoholism?

NIAAA defines heavy drinking as follows: For men, consuming more than 4 drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week. For women, consuming more than 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week.

This is especially true in light of the fact that moderate drinking might be good for health and intervention research shows us that changing behavior is possible. I’m a big supporter of the idea that improvements in quality of life, in addition to or instead of measures of abstinence, need to be incorporated broadly into addiction treatment research. The way I see it, our goal in treating addiction is to help a client improve their functioning, which is often being hampered by substance abuse but that is abstinence vs moderation not necessarily completely dependent on it. Follow-up studies as long as 8 years showed that the people who were most successful in maintaining moderate problem-free drinking were those with less severe alcohol problems at the start. Many of those starting off with more severe problems succeeded with moderation for a period of time, but eventually chose to abstain from alcohol completely. This is an addiction treatment method that entails indulging in addictive substances or activities on some occasions.

Mental Health

Some people aren’t ready to quit alcohol completely, and are more likely to succeed if they cut back instead. In this case, moderation serves as a harm reduction strategy that minimizes the negative consequences of drinking. It’s a healthy step in a positive direction, and is often achievable with medication. There is no “one size fits all” approach to changing your relationship with alcohol, and all pathways are unique. One person may start out with a moderation goal and later decide that a sober lifestyle more closely supports their aspirations and wellness. Another individual may pursue sobriety and later decide that they want to try to drink in moderation once they’ve clarified their boundaries. It is the most common method of addiction treatment, which most believe is the most effective among other methods.

Scientific evidence does support the notion that people with severe drinking problems are NOT good candidates for moderation and generally do much better with abstinence. And it goes without saying that for anyone who has developed a really serious drinking problem, abstinence is by far the safest course. However, research also has shown that with proper help “problem drinkers” (non-alcoholics with less severe drinking problems) can and sometimes do successfully learn how to moderate their drinking and reliably keep it within safer limits. Abstinence refers to the complete restraint of drugs and substance abuse. It has a minimal chance of relapse for persons who maintain abstinence for more than five years and has been deemed the most effective substance addiction treatment. On the other hand, moderation refers to an addiction treatment method that entails indulging in addictive substances or activities on some occasions. It focuses on substance abuse patterns such as why and when a person indulges in these substances as well as the maintenance of high levels of accountability. The effectiveness of these two methods in curbing substance abuse depends on an individual.

Personal Growth

However, moderation has shown a high chance of substance abuse relapse. Since the follow-up period in this study was only 3 months post-intervention, differences between groups at future time points are unknown. A study with 3 years of follow-up showed that among patients in remission from alcohol use disorder , abstinent individuals were less likely to relapse. However, due to the Web-based nature of this intervention, VetChange requires a degree of self-management from participants in terms of completing the weekly modules and homework assignments. To be successful at moderation or abstinence requires effort and a commitment to change.

What alcohol is the healthiest?

Red wine. When it comes to a healthier alcohol, red wine is top of the list. Red wine contains antioxidants, which can protect your cells from damage, and polyphenols, which can promote heart health. White wine and rose contain those too, just in smaller quantities.

Reflection questions from a therapistto help you understand your own relationship with alcohol, and if moderation meets your needs and preferences. There is a big difference between moderation and abstinence when it comes to alcohol. If you or someone you care about misuses alcohol, it is important to understand this difference and how effective each model is. needs to review the security of your connection before proceeding. Abstinence may not be a realistic solution with some addictions, such as eating and in some cases sexual addictions. For these addictions moderation is the prescribed course of action. Even in these instances commitment to moderation is an important factor for success. Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Whether you carry a physical card in your wallet or use your smartphone, try tracking your drinks to get a better handle on your consumption.

Volunteer chronic alcoholics were given access to substantial quantities of alcohol in situations in which a behavioral contingency was attached to non-excessive drinking. If subjects either abstained or drank moderately they earned the opportunity to participate in an ‘enriched’ ward environment—with greater social and recreational opportunities. The results indicate that alcoholics can stop drinking after having begun, and thus support the hope that a technology may be developed for teaching moderation as a treatment goal. The results also suggest that for alcoholics, moderate drinking is more reinforcing than abstinence. The possibility that the opportunity to drink moderately can be used as a reinforcer in treatment programs is discussed.