Alcohol Moderation Management: Programs and Steps to Control Drinking

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We identify a clear gap in research examining nonabstinence psychosocial treatment for drug use disorders and suggest that increased research attention on these interventions represents the logical next step for the field. Only a small minority of people with substance use disorders (SUDs) receive treatment. A focus on abstinence is pervasive in SUD treatment, defining success in both research and practice, and punitive measures are often imposed on those who do not abstain. Most adults with SUD do not seek treatment because they do not wish to stop using substances, though many also recognize a need for help. This narrative review considers the need for increased research attention on nonabstinence psychosocial treatment of SUD – especially drug use disorders – as a potential way to engage and retain more people in treatment, to engage people in treatment earlier, and to improve treatment effectiveness. Despite significant empirical support for nonabstinence alcohol interventions, there is a clear gap in research examining nonabstinence psychosocial treatment for drug use disorders.

1 What Is Recovery? study

The relative efficacy of moderation-oriented cue exposure versus behavioral self-control training may vary depending on the format of treatment delivery (group versus individual) and level of drinking severity. In general, the efficacy of both techniques does not appear to vary as a function of drinking severity but may vary as a function of drinking-related self-efficacy. Guided-self change is a relatively new and brief cognitive-behavioral intervention that has demonstrated efficacy with problem drinkers.

  • If one drink still leads to several more, attempting moderation isn’t the safest choice.
  • Given data demonstrating a clear link between abstinence goals and treatment engagement in a primarily abstinence-based SUD treatment system, it is reasonable to hypothesize that offering nonabstinence treatment would increase overall engagement by appealing to those with nonabstinence goals.
  • If you believe that harm reduction therapy may help, you may be interested in our alcohol addiction program.
  • At the first interview all IPs were abstinent and had a positive view on the 12-step treatment, although a few described a cherry-picking attitude.
  • This can lead to symptoms like bloating and constipation, according to an article in the journal Alcohol Research.
  • Notably, these individuals are also most likely to endorse nonabstinence goals (Berglund et al., 2019; Dunn & Strain, 2013; Lozano et al., 2006; Lozano et al., 2015; Mowbray et al., 2013).
  • Lack of consensus around target outcomes also presents a challenge to evaluating the effectiveness of nonabstinence treatment.

The effectiveness of these programmes can greatly vary depending on several factors such as treatment duration, individual factors, and programme challenges. Learning to drink in moderation can be the goal, or it can be a way station on the way to abstinence. Once you are able to allow yourself some alcohol in controlled circumstances, you may ultimately choose to give up drinking entirely. And even if you don’t plan to quit, you may find that you lose interest in alcohol after practicing moderation. Some people aren’t ready to quit alcohol completely, and are more likely to succeed if they cut back instead.

Moderated Drinking May Empower You to Give Up Drinking Entirely

Even moderate drinking can lead to long-term health problems such as liver disease, heart disease, and increased risk of certain cancers. Besides, alcohol affects your sleep quality and mental health too; it’s not uncommon for people who drink regularly to struggle with anxiety or depression. Alcohol moderation management isn’t just about cutting back and reducing your blood alcohol concentration, it’s a deeply personal journey that can empower you to regain controlled drinking vs abstinence control of your life and reconnect with those who matter most. This strategy is not about total abstinence but involves setting moderate drinking goals that are safe and sensible for you, paying attention to social influences that may sway your decisions, and developing self-awareness around your triggers. Moderation techniques such as pacing yourself, choosing lower-alcohol options, or having alcohol-free days can be practical tools in this journey.

controlled drinking vs abstinence

By the same token, controlled drinking may be the more common outcome for untreated remission, since many alcohol abusers may reject treatment because they are unwilling to abstain. In Britain and other European and Commonwealth countries, controlled-drinking therapy is widely available (Rosenberg et al., 1992). The following six questions explore the value, prevalence, and clinical impact of controlled drinking vs. abstinence outcomes in alcoholism treatment; they are intended to argue the case for controlled drinking as a reasonable and realistic goal. The ability to control drinking varies significantly from person to person and is influenced by a range of factors including genetics, environment, emotional state, and individual psychology.

5. Feasibility of nonabstinence goals

Psychologically, you might be dealing with a range of emotions from guilt over past incidents to anxiety about future relapses. Also, consider your health – excessive drinking can lead to serious conditions like liver disease or heart problems. The path towards moderation management comes with its unique set of challenges which can include social pressure or dealing with underlying emotional issues that contribute towards excessive drinking habits. Individual factors like personal motivation, mental health status, and support system also play a key role in determining how well someone will fare within a programme. It’s heartbreaking to see loved ones caught in the grip of addiction, but there’s hope – research shows that many people find success with programmes aimed at reducing consumption. Alcohol moderation management programmes are often successful when tailored to an individual’s specific needs and circumstances.

  • Even moderate drinking can lead to long-term health problems such as liver disease, heart disease, and increased risk of certain cancers.
  • Abstinence benefits extend beyond just physical improvements though; they also encompass mental health improvements.
  • Consistent with the philosophy of harm reduction as described by Marlatt et al. (2001), harm reduction psychotherapy is accepting of a wide range of client goals, including risk reduction, moderation, and abstinence (of note, abstinence is conceptualized as consistent with harm reduction when it is a goal chosen by the client).
  • In its original form, RP aims to reduce risk of relapse by teaching participants cognitive and behavioral skills for coping in high-risk situations (Marlatt & Gordon, 1985).
  • 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).