Alcoholism doesn’t follow the simple rules of inheritance set out by Gregor Mendel. Instead, it is influenced by several genes that interact with each other and with environmental factors. Loose use of the terms “moderate” and “a drink” has fueled some of the ongoing debate about alcohol’s impact on health.

  • Don’t make you feel as if you have to suspend permanently.
  • Subgroup 7 (46 individuals, 10.29% of the alcohol abstainers) had none of the risk factors of subgroups 2 to 6 but were former daily smokers.
  • Given the complexity of alcohol’s effects on the body and the complexity of the people who drink it, blanket recommendations about alcohol are out of the question.
  • There are no requirements for changing your relationship with alcohol and seeking treatment.

But alcohol misuse is not a one-size-fits all problem, and neither is its solution. After years of struggling, she decided to get some help. She admitted she was hooked on alcohol and started seeing a counselor. 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. Also, the study should be replicated in a different setting with a larger sample before we can have confidence these findings can be applied to individuals with alcohol use disorder seeking moderation-focused treatment more generally. It is also worth mentioning some baseline (i.e., pre-treatment) differences between the three groups to get a sense of the types of individuals in each group.

Is Moderation A Realistic Goal For Some People With Less Severe Drinking Problems?

Sadly, alcohol detox is rarely enough to help someone achieve a long-lasting recovery. Most people need to seek help from treatment facilities to find the right treatment.

And you know what, you should want to be in charge of yourself. It’s engaging with those questions and being curious and inquisitive and finding out what the answers are for you. And then once you are armed with the knowledge, then you get to decide what’s right for you.

Booth, Dale, and Ansari , on the other hand, found that patients did achieve their selected goal of abstinence or controlled drinking more often. Miller et al. found that more dependent drinkers were less likely to achieve CD outcomes but that desired treatment goal and whether one labeled oneself an alcoholic or not independently predicted outcome type. Edwards et al. reported that controlled drinking is more unstable than abstinence for alcoholics over time, but recent studies have found that controlled drinking increases over longer follow-up periods. Finney and Moos reported a 17 percent “social or moderate drinking” rate at 6 years and a 24 percent rate at 10 years. In studies by McCabe and Nordström and Berglund , CD outcomes exceeded abstinence during follow-up of patients 15 and more years after treatment.

Baseline alcohol consumption low to moderate versus alcohol abstinence in subgroups, deceased study participants 20 years after baseline, and time to death, Cox proportional hazards model. Baseline alcohol use, tobacco smoking, self-rated health, and deceased study participants 20 years after baseline, and time to death, Cox proportional hazards model, and logistic regression analysis. Individuals who abstain from alcohol might include those who have risk factors that can be reasons for the shorter life expectancy compared to low to moderate alcohol consumers. They drink too much but lose control of themselves after just one drink. Losing control of alcohol is no longer a threat to them since losing control over alcohol is no longer a threat. Many in the non-profit moderation management treatment industry advise against moderate relapse, while even many in the addiction treatment industry have reassessed their view of recovery.

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. MM asks participants to take a realistic look at their drinking patterns and reasons for drinking. Many treatment facilities and support groups aim to help individuals achieve and maintain long-term sobriety through abstinence. Alcohol addiction treatment programs can guide individuals through a safe and effective medical detox, followed by counseling that targets the reasons behind addiction. I can’t even think of how many times I’ve heard the notion that complete, total, abstinence should be the only goal for all people who abuse drug or alcohol. 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.

Is Alcohol Or Drug Abuse Taking A Toll On Your Digestion?

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. Following that logic, it makes a lot of sense to me to include the idea of moderation as another option in the addiction treatment arsenal.

Instead, an abstinence-based treatment approach typically requires that you complete an addiction treatment program where professionals guide you through the process. As a result, you’ll gain the tools and strategies you alcohol abstinence vs moderation need to sustain lasting recovery. Regardless of how nice moderation management may sound, it can be risky and unsafe, especially for those who are unable to resist the temptation to use large amounts of alcohol or drugs.

As you likely know, alcohol can do a number on your brain, your liver, and your judgment. Here’s a quick overview of what happens when you stop drinking. The third phase involves putting in to practice what has been learned and transition out of full time treatment. This phase continues clients on either the Substance Use Disorder or Mental Health Treatment Tracks. Once you form your new drinking habit, you’ll want to maintain it. Most of us can look back to a period when we’d developed a healthy exercise routine or improved our diet only to lose momentum and regress to old patterns of behavior.

But the less severe problem drinkers uncovered in nonclinical studies are more typical, outnumbering those who “show major symptoms of alcohol dependence” by about four to one . Nonetheless, Helzer et al. rejected the value of CD outcomes in alcoholism treatment.

An Unique Alternative To Abstinence

This was found for total, for cardiovascular, and for cancer mortality. Fig 1 illustrates findings according to the alcohol-abstinent study participants. Among all alcohol-abstinent study participants at baseline, we found 8 distinct subgroups according to risk factors. Subgroups 2 to 8 included 322 (72.04%) of the alcohol abstainers at baseline with one or more of the risk factors analyzed. Among them, 114 (35.40%) had an alcohol use disorder or risky alcohol consumption in their history. Subgroup 2 (84 individuals, 18.79% of the alcohol abstainers) ever had one or more criteria for an alcohol or drug dependence or abuse fulfilled in life before. Among these, we found 44 former alcohol-dependent study participants.

alcohol abstinence vs moderation

Additionally, many people who have gone through non-abstinence programs seek out complete abstinence later in life. A heavy drinker who is moderating their drinking will typically feel like they are breaking a bad habit. If the attempt doesn’t feel like dieting or exercise, it’s probably not an honest attempt. However, once we adhere to a new behavioral principle for a significant period of time, we tend to re-habituate.

Abstinence Or Moderation? Drinking Goals In A Web

It’s a commitment to focusing on the why behind your decision and staying connected to your body and connected to your emotions and connected to your thoughts. Join me today as I share my viewpoint on abstinence and moderation when it comes to changing the habit. Alcoholics Anonymous and other abstinence-based 12-step programs are the main form of treatment for alcoholism in the U.S. But many people are unable to stick with them and return to dependence on alcohol. If someone tells you that it’s fine for recovering alcoholics to drink in moderation, consider why this person is telling you this information.

Various studies discovered that in certain cultures there is a certain percentage of people with the ability to stop drinking and practice moderation management, but the probability of that being the case is in the extreme range. In any case, the possibility of being inebriated is indistinct.

  • We look at each program on a case-by-case basis to cater to your needs to get better and walk towards recovery.
  • However loud the music is playing, you just got to leave it there.
  • She’d had a few occasions recently where she blacked out from drinking, then spent days in bed depressed.

We will help you decide whether moderation-based treatment or abstinence-based treatment is best for you. Our evaluation process will give you objective feedback about the nature and severity of your drinking problem and its impact on your life. And we will help you develop a more useful perspective on the problem. We will work collaboratively with you to formulate a treatment plan that is effective, feasible, and makes sense. We will discuss with you the pros and cons of abstinence and the pros and cons of moderation. And we will respectfully offer you our professional advice and recommendations. Although moderation may be a good starting point for many drinkers, it is not the best approach for everyone with a drinking problem.

One Glass A Day? The Impact Of Low Volume Drinking On Mortality Risk

Simply put; those who want to learn to drink in moderation are less likely to achieve their goal, while those who set a goal of quitting drinking entirely see greater success. Twin, family, and adoption studies have firmly established that genetics plays an important role in determining an individual’s preferences for alcohol and his or her likelihood for developing alcoholism.

The results support the view that people in the general population who currently are abstinent from alcohol do not necessarily have a shorter survival time than the population with low to moderate alcohol consumption. Increased mortality risks among abstainers might largely be explained by previous alcohol or drug problems, risky drinking, daily smoking, and self-rated health as fair to poor. The findings speak against recommendations to drink alcohol for health reasons.

What Is Addiction?

“I make plans for my non-drinking days so that I’m not thinking about it so much – I work out, I schedule late work meetings, so it’s not even a temptation,” a tall, thin older woman says. Later, she explains that there was a time not long ago when the idea of getting through any day without five or six drinks seemed impossible to her.

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There was no therapist in the room, and the moderator, a two-year MM “veteran”, gently steered people away from delving too deeply into issues that might be better addressed in therapy. Dr. Elizabeth Klenk graduated from the University of Toledo with a BA in Biology and from the University of Cincinnati with a Master of Science in Biological Sciences followed by her MD. She was a hockey player and played goalie for several high level mens’ teams. Dr. Klenk also reads avidly and enjoys spending time with her children, playing music, hiking, and participating in cattle herding competitions across the country with her Border Collies. She lives on a working cattle ranch in Ohio with her family and is an active part of the farm in her spare time. 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.

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At the other extreme, Wallace et al. reported a 57 percent continuous abstinence rate for private clinic patients who were stably married and had successfully completed detoxification and treatment—but results in this study covered only a 6-month period. These two approaches are far different from what I teach here on the podcast and what I teach my clients because neither one of these addresses your desire. If you’ve been a listener here, you’ll know that the only way to change your relationship with alcohol is to do this work, and both abstinence and moderation will have you going to war with your desire for the rest of your life. This is a recovery program and national support group network. It’s for people who have made the decision to reduce their drinking and make other positive lifestyle changes. We are dedicated to transforming the despair of addiction into a purposeful life of confidence, self-respect and happiness.

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. Just a clean and simple, “No thank you, I’m good,” moving on.

Moderate drinkers who have two copies of the gene for the slow-acting enzyme are at much lower risk for cardiovascular disease than moderate drinkers who have two genes for the fast-acting enzyme. Those with one gene for the slow-acting enzyme and one for the faster enzyme fall in between. Of course, every person’s recovery experience is different.