Alcohol Management Program: Moderation or Abstinence Human Resources University of Michigan

Some treatments try to help you quit alcohol and find ways to establish a healthy recovery. Others may not promote abstinence, and look to reduce addictive behaviors and related health risks. There are many studies that link moderate drinking to health benefits, such as improved digestion and reduced risk of gallstones. As a depressant, alcohol can also improve your social life and mood in moderation. Left unchecked, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can lead to relapse, sleeping problems, seizures, and even death.

  • Marks of dependence aren’t a piece of this program, because there is no disgrace included.
  • Do you want to cut down on your drinking rather than give up alcohol completely?
  • It is simpler to just give up the substance entirely than to try to manage or regulate it.
  • Many families of addicted loved ones find themselves wishing for their loved one to swing from one extreme clear over to the other.

For example, someone might want to cut back on the amount they drink, or maybe slow down their rate of drinking. Moderation can open a window for you to defuse the emotional challenges that create the craving for relief that alcohol provides. While you are taking a break from drinking or limiting your drinking, you have an opportunity to develop better coping skills, address your drinking behaviors, and find healthier ways of dealing with the issues that drinking is covering up. Ark Behavioral Health offers 100% confidential substance abuse assessment and treatment placement tailored to your individual needs. Studies show that some non-abstinence recovery programs are connected to a faster recovery period and reduced drinking problems, especially in younger patients.

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The strategy was for her to remain engaged and rewarding for as long as he didn’t go over the two drinks. She would then remove rewards, disengage and allow natural consequences if she saw or sensed that he had drank more than two drinks or was using stimulants. Here is an example of how the “bottom line” might be reestablished in your home.

However, please know that it is not necessarily advisable to include your loved one in this decision or discussion about the new “bottom line.” It can be more of an internal decision that you, the family member(s) make. A drinker can easily ward off the need to have one too many drinks at happy hour by taking the drug. Consider the cost and side effects related with your drinking, and ask yourself whether the Alcohol Management Program may be right for you. → Are not currently grappling with severe life problems such as divorce, job loss, bankruptcy, debilitating or life-threatening medical illness, death of a loved one, depression or other psychiatric illness, etc.

Consider the health benefits

When your drinking is under control, you may have the internal bandwidth to accept the professional psychological support that can help you develop healthier ways of coping. You could also get help to better manage your emotions, address past trauma, and understand how anxiety, depression, or other emotional difficulties have powered your alcohol abuse. Studies that recognize the potential benefits of moderation programs also see its risks.

  • 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.
  • For those with more severe alcohol use disorders, trying to quit drinking cold turkey can also be dangerous to their health and in some cases, even deadly.

Moderation offers a path to sobriety without completely eliminating drinking. Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink, or taking breaks from drinking alcohol, are ways to get your alcohol problem under control while providing space for you to address the issues that power your drinking. Complete abstinence from alcohol, also known as quitting “cold turkey,” can be risky for people who have an alcohol dependence. These people will likely experience withdrawal when they quit, because their bodies need alcohol to function. The effectiveness of alcohol moderation programs are still being studied. Future research may be needed to weigh the benefits and risks of moderation compared to abstinence.

Substance Abuse Treatment for Executives and Professionals

TV presenter and alcohol moderation advocate Adrian Chiles, in his 2022 book The Good Drinker shares his journey from over drinking to wellness. 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”. There are many paths to wellness, and it is for the individual to choose the right goal for them. The likelihood of successful moderation does depend on the severity of the alcohol use disorder, with evidence suggesting that those who have a mild to moderate use disorder have the best chances of cutting down. Most people in the population who have alcohol issues fall into this category and with structured support can bring their drinking down to safer levels.

  • In addition, it is advantageous to identify the client’s personal motivation for change.
  • The effects of alcohol consumption can also differ greatly based on a person’s physical composition, regardless of sex or gender identity.
  • The Bluffs is a private alcohol, substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in central Ohio.
  • Maintaining moderation in drinking means starting out with a specific goal.
  • Second, realize a commitment to sobriety is not a commitment to be forever perfect.

When it comes to the debate between complete abstinence or alcohol moderation, advice can dramatically differ, leaving many people confused and unsure which path to take to make a positive change in their lives. While the burden to deliver effective treatments falls on health care providers, individual factors can impact how well someone responds to these treatments. Among the most widely studied are how motivated and confident someone is in being able to reduce or quit drinking. Given the field’s historical emphasis on abstinence-based approaches, key individual factors to treatment outcome remain more of a mystery when it comes to moderation-focused treatment, sometimes called “harm reduction”. Abstinence is not the only solution for recovering from alcohol use disorders, but it is one of the most studied and successful methods for recovering from alcohol use disorders. There is no “one size fits all” approach to changing your relationship with alcohol, and all pathways are unique.

Alcohol Treatment Programs

There are no requirements for changing your relationship with alcohol and seeking treatment. While many people and treatment centers follow the alcohol abstinence model, there are others that argue that drinking in moderation is effective. One research study on Veterans suggested that both models can decrease alcohol use to a degree, but those striving for abstinence were far more successful than those drinking in moderation. Of those who were engaged in non-problem drinking a year after the study began, only 48% reported non-problem drinking or abstinence at later follow-ups. At our Ohio residential treatment center, we understand that relapse is often a part of recovery and are here to help you wherever you may be in the recovery journey.

Abstinence programs may encourage people to quit drinking alcohol over a period of time, instead of all at once, to reduce the risks that come with withdrawal. “Moderation” is a term that is often used to suggest that a person with an alcohol or drug problem alcohol abstinence vs moderation does not really have to give it up but can “control” it. A program called Moderation Management advocates this alternative to abstinence as a solution for a substance abuse disorder2. Some answers can be found in research conducted by Keith Humphreys, Ph.D.3.

Is abstinence the only way?

A month after we learned of his opiate use, he entered outpatient therapy and began working on abstinence with both drugs and alcohol. His experience with the ritalin and now the painkillers made it clear to him that he was seriously susceptible to any drug and that had to include alcohol. Also, one should remember the outcomes of utilizing, not with a feeling of regret, but rather with a clear-cut picture of what one has to do to resist utilizing during moderation management. An individual accustomed to engaging in addictive conduct doesn’t require it anymore! However, what should often be remembered is the experiences and feelings that come from self-control. The balance of the two experiences has been demonstrated to be a valuable asset in moderation management.

The problem, she explained, was that every so often he drank more than two drinks and lost control over his alcohol intake. In those times, he would steal her son’s ritalin, a stimulant prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder and for which her husband acknowledged having trouble. Below, you can read a case study of how one woman applied the CRAFT method of alcohol intervention with her husband. She did this while he was attempting to moderate his drinking rather than abstain.

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