UNITED KINGDOM AND UNITED STATES HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS’ RECOMMENDATIONS OF ABSTINENCE VERSUS CONTROLLED DRINKING Alcohol and Alcoholism

Moderation often requires that you take anti-craving medication for an indefinite period of time. 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. In the results, we mention that there were a few IPs that were younger, with a background of diffuse and complex problems characterized by a multi-problem situation. Thus, this is interesting to analyse further although the younger IPs in this article, with experience of 12-step treatment, are too few to allow for a separate analysis. However, they will be included in a further analysis on young adults based on the same premises as in present article but with experience from other treatments than the 12-step treatment.

  • Setting up personal guidelines and expectations—and tracking results—can make maintaining moderation easier.
  • Finding useful information and resources about addiction or alcoholism can be a minefield.
  • Clients were recruited via treatment units (outpatient and inpatient) in seven Swedish city areas.
  • The Swedish treatment system has been dominated by total abstinence as the goal, although treatment with CD as a goal exists (e.g., Agerberg, 2014; Berglund et al., 2019).

Williams and Mee-Lee (op. cit.) also claim that AA originally taught that it was not the responsibility of group members or counsellors to give medical advice to others while there is a widespread opposition to using medically assisted treatment in the 12-step approach. Further, that the original focus on support has been replaced by a focus on denial and resistance as personality flaws. This pinpoints the conflicting issues experienced by some clients during the recovery process. If the 12-step philosophy and AA were one option among others, the clients could make an informed choice and seek options based on their own situation and needs. This would probably reduce the risk of negative effects while still offering the positive support experienced by the majority of the clients in the study.

Virginia Clinic Is First In The State to Treat Opioid-Addicted Pregnant Women

Vaillant (1983) labeled abstinence as drinking less than once a month and including a binge lasting less than a week each year. Clients’ sex also affected the ratings, with abstinence being recommended more strongly for women than for men depicted in our case studies. For instance, the stronger recommendation of abstinence for women than for men was seen in the US but not in the UK. Abstinence was seen as a more preferred goal for women than for men only among lower-severity drinkers and only in the US.

  • The descriptions on how the tools from treatment were initially used to deal with SUD and were later used to deal with other problems in the lives of IPs can be put in relation to the differentiation between abstinence and sobriety suggested by Helm (2019).
  • Some of the abstainers still attended meetings because of a fear of what might happen if they stopped, although they questioned parts of the philosophy.
  • Only two studies of which we are aware have assessed whether acceptance of CD varied as a function of client characteristics.
  • Despite the reported relationship between severity and CD outcomes, many diagnosed alcoholics do control their drinking.
  • Moderation Management is a support group system developed by Audrey Kishline, a self-identified “problem drinker” in 1994.
  • Abstinence from drinking is typically considered the traditional approach to treatment and is sometimes required in programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.

The goal of a moderation program is to support a person’s journey toward understanding their drinking behavior and create a safe environment for them to explore how to drink moderately. At AA they may tell the story of how choosing to drink led to horrible consequences at the birthday party. Hearing themselves say this out loud should wake them up to the reality of the choice they made by revealing their own faulty self-justifications for that choice. The Bluffs is a private alcohol, substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in central Ohio. While it is legal for adults, it can still be dangerous, and many people do become dependent on this substance.

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These benefits include a decreased risk of heart disease, ischemic stroke, and diabetes. Although, it is also acknowledged that there are other ways than alcohol to prevent these types of health issues. Abstinence is a strict guideline to follow and moderation is a risky option to take. In the end, it may depend on the person because everyone is different and therefore different alcohol treatments may be more effective for different people.

In both countries, respondents’ mean ratings corresponded to the levels that were intended when the case-history scenarios were written. Following that logic, it makes a lot of sense to me to include the idea of moderation controlled drinking vs abstinence as another option in the addiction treatment arsenal. 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.

Drinking in Moderation vs. Abstinence: What You Need to Know

For some, attending was just a routine, whereas others stressed that meetings were crucial to them for remaining abstinent and maintaining their recovery process. Questions on main drug and other problematic drug use were followed by the interviewer giving a brief summary of how the interview person (IP) had described their change process five years earlier. With this as a starting point, the IP was asked to describe the past five years in terms of potential so-called relapse and retention and/or resumption of positive change. The interview guide also dealt with questions on treatment contacts during the follow-up period (frequency, extent and type), the view of their own and others’ alcohol consumption and important factors to continue or resume positive change. Abstinence from alcohol and other drugs has historically been a core criterion for recovery, defined by the Betty Ford Institute as a “voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship” (Betty Ford Institute Consensus Panel, 2007, p. 222).

controlled drinking vs abstinence

The idea behind drinking in moderation versus abstinence is that some people may not want complete abstinence from alcohol. While not as popular traditionally for treatment, the alcohol moderation movement has grown recently, and moderation management programs are on the rise. This model can be a type of harm reduction strategy for someone who is unwilling to give up alcohol completely but trying to decrease the amount and https://ecosoberhouse.com/ frequency of their intake. This may also be the approach for heavy drinkers looking to cut back, but there are some concerns with this approach to alcohol recovery for those with alcohol use disorders. A considerable number of clients reported changed views on the programme, some were still abstinent and some were drinking in a controlled way. The CDs had the strength to leave the community, indicating agency and autonomy.

Moderation can allow you to feel in control and like you are making progress. Many who practice it find that they are better at understanding how much they are drinking, are able to reduce or eliminate binge drinking, and suffer fewer negative consequences from alcohol abuse. Successful moderation involves understanding yourself (what factors trigger excessive drinking), planning (how much you are going to drink and how you are going to stop), and taking concrete steps to exit or avoid situations where you won’t be able to moderate. Limited social drinking is a realistic goal for some people who struggle with alcohol, and should definitely be considered by people who have not been able to successfully adhere to abstinence. Moderation gives you control of your drinking and allows you to take back control of your life.


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