Recovery: Abstinence vs Moderation

  • bởi johnnytran014
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Submit your number and receive a free call today from a treatment provider. Sara explained to her therapist that she didn’t think she could quit drinking altogether. When out for a nice dinner or attending a get-together, she still wanted the freedom of having a drink or two. Her counselor agreed that limiting her drinking could be a good solution and they set a goal for Sara to cut back her consumption to these special occasions only. This word “abstinence” can be an intimidating word to many, especially those in the early stages of recovery.

  • Treatment providers are available 24/7 to answer your questions about rehab, whether it’s for you or a loved one.
  • If you are considering which path may be best for you, it can be helpful to first identify what your main goals are with your substance for the near future.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous and other abstinence-based 12-step programs are the main form of treatment for alcoholism in the U.S.

In order to be included in that original study, an individual had to be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder, report a minimum average weekly drinking of 16+ drinks for women and 25+ for men, and express interest in a moderation approach to changing their drinking. 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”. » 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.

Written by Thrivalist Sobriety

And this awareness is generated without judgement from their entourage, but rather through self-observation. There are no absolutes in the world of relativity, and therefore there are no right or wrong answers to this question. Each individual is free to decide which path they choose, as each individual gets to experience the positive or negative consequences of their choices. Thinking back to past experiences with both approaches and getting honest with oneself is often the first step to take. Regardless of what has happened in the past, know that those patterns do not have to carry on moving forward.

Is recovery more than abstinence?

The Differences Between Abstinence and Recovery. In other words, abstinence is the removal of something negative from your life. Recovery is the removal of something negative and the consequential replacing of that negativity with a positive lifestyle change instead.

While it can seem daunting to practice abstinence, limit your alcohol use, or seek treatment, you can find comfort in the fact that there is no definitive “correct” way to get where you want to be. Symptoms of withdrawal can include anxiety, confusion, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, shaking and tremors, and insomnia. These symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening, so it is imperative to understand your relationship with alcohol to avoid withdrawal. This theory supposes that the common alcoholic — something 17.7 million people were classified as in 2012[5] — can manage their addiction by limiting how much and how often they drink. One of the best ways is to remember why you are making the commitment.

Science Based Psychological, Behavioral, and Addiction Specialists

Mormons, Muslims, and Bahais—that forbid practitioners from consuming alcohol. Similarly, there were teetotalers and prohibitionists who tried to ban alcohol altogether throughout the twentieth century. Speak with a treatment provider and get your questions about rehab answered today. First, let’s dive into the difference between abstinence (AKA sobriety) and moderation.

If, on the other hand, you say, “Only moderate drinking from now on,” suddenly, you’re in murky waters. You have to put a lot of mental effort into it and the line between success and failure is always moving, usually to accommodate more drinking. When you’re rule is abstinence, you know immediately when you’ve crossed the line. The US Department of Health & Human Services recommends no mo than 2 drinks per day for men and only 1 drink per day for women. If drinking more on certain days than others, then it’s recommended that men drink no more than 14 drinks in a week for men and 7 drinks in a week for women. Of course, these amounts are “standard” drinks, meaning that we’re talking about the amount of alcohol in the beverage rather than the drink itself.


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. However, other types abstinence vs moderation 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.

An individual’s ability to avoid excessive drinking is also influenced by other factors such as past alcohol consumption, as reflected by an alcohol use disorder diagnosis. Depending on the number of criteria met, an individual will be diagnosed with mild, moderate, or severe AUD. Individuals with severe AUD often find that in the long term, sobriety is the most achievable goal for them.

Is moderation a realistic goal for some people with less severe drinking problems?

Attempts at moderation may not be worth the effort or the risk when considering the consequences. If your own life has been a mess because of your addictive behavior, why chance it? Many people think that abstinence is the only solution for problem drinking. Abstinence means giving up alcohol completely, and it’s the foundation of traditional treatment options like AA and most inpatient rehabs. But alcohol misuse is not a one-size-fits all problem, and neither is its solution.

So, how can you tell whether moderation or abstinence is a better goal for you? Here are some things to consider in comparing moderation vs. abstinence. So, in working together, she and I decided she would the line between one or two drinks, which she would consider as “non-use” (Module 5 on members site), and more than two drinks, which she would consider as “use” (Module 6 on members site). The strategy was for her to remain engaged and rewarding for as long as he didn’t go over the two drinks, and to remove rewards, disengage and allow natural consequences if she saw or sensed that he had drank more than two drinks or was using stimulants.

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