However, it has to be kept in mind that after adjustment for age and sex, the HR was not statistically significant but larger than 1. It cannot be precluded that in larger samples, the HR might become significant. Former alcohol use disorders, risky consumption, efforts to cut down on drinking, ever daily tobacco smoking, and fair to poor health may predict early death among alcohol abstainers. Severity of alcoholism is the most generally accepted clinical indicator of the appropriateness of CD therapy . Untreated alcohol abusers probably have less severe drinking problems than clinical populations of alcoholics, which may explain their higher levels of controlled drinking. 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 .

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.

Does moderation work and for whom?

Ark Behavioral Health offers 100% confidential substance abuse assessment and treatment placement tailored to your individual needs. Any amount of alcohol consumption is a risk factor for relapse. Even if you think you will only have a little bit of alcohol, the act of drinking can be a trigger for your mind, and you may end up drinking heavily without planning to. Adi Jaffe, Ph.D., is a lecturer at UCLA and the CEO of IGNTD, an online company that produces podcasts and educational programs on mental health and addiction. Lastly, this being a study, it is very possible that participants were better motivated, more informed, and more likely to put in the effort required to use the program.

alcohol abstinence vs moderation

Another 161 (50.00%) did not have such an alcohol-related risk but were daily smokers. The 322 alcohol-abstinent study participants with one or more of the risk factors had a shorter time to death than those with low to moderate alcohol consumption. The Cox proportional hazard ratio was 2.44 (95% confidence interval , 1.68 to 3.56) for persons who had one or more criteria for an alcohol or drug use disorder fulfilled in their history and after adjustment for age and sex. The 125 alcohol-abstinent persons without these risk factors (27.96% of the abstainers) did not show a statistically significant difference from low to moderate alcohol consumers in total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality. Main limitations of this study include its reliance on self-reported data at baseline and the fact that only tobacco smoking was analyzed as a risky behavior alongside alcohol consumption.

Moderation Is Achieveable!!

Moderation management can best be achieved through professional treatment for those seeking it. A study from 2012 indicates the more likely it is that the addict will achieve long-term moderation management if they’ve tried medication at some point. It was found that 56.1% of individuals who started alcohol abuse in the past 20 years and attempted medication at some period were abstinent, opposed to 24.5 percent of people who were never treated. However, if you plan on reducing the severity of your addiction, you should abstain from the substance completely by practicing moderation management. It is simpler to just give up the substance entirely than to try to manage or regulate it. There is no matter what type of substance abuse treatment or method is used to achieve sobriety. One of the most important factors is doing the right thing; committing to moderation management.

  • If you are struggling with some of the following signs above, be sure to contact your physician or seek help at a substance abuse treatment facility.
  • A young man in the group explained that he had bipolar disorder, that he was feeling great on his new medication, but that there might be a problem when it comes to alcohol.
  • She was released in August 2003 after serving 3½ years of her 4½ year sentence.
  • By eliminating the sometimes daunting notion of zero-alcohol use, many find a moderation-based approach more attainable in their daily lives.
  • Don’t make you feel as if you have to suspend permanently.
  • Abstinence means giving up alcohol completely, and it’s the foundation of traditional treatment options like AA and most inpatient rehabs.

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. Moderation management has been found most successful for those who have a problem with drinking but who do not meet the criteria and have not been diagnosed with moderate or severe alcohol use disorder. Drinking in moderation can be a viable pathway to a healthier alcohol abstinence vs moderation life. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism , the definition of moderate alcohol use differs for men and women. 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. We will help you decide whether moderation-based treatment or abstinence-based treatment is best for you.

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

If subjects either abstained or drank moderately they earned the opportunity to participate in an ‘enriched’ ward environment—with greater social and recreational opportunities. The results indicate that alcoholics can stop drinking after having begun, and thus support the hope that a technology may be developed for teaching moderation as a treatment goal. The results also suggest that for alcoholics, moderate drinking is more reinforcing than abstinence. The possibility that the opportunity to drink moderately can be used as a reinforcer in treatment programs is discussed. For all we know, it might also be an option for people who do meet criteria for alcohol dependence but since the study we’re about to assess didn’t talk about it, we’ll leave that for later. 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.

Now she has eliminated binge drinking and the acute and chronic effects that often accompany it. The founders of AA suggest that attempts at moderation provide the best litmus test for alcoholism.

Drinking in Moderation vs. Abstinence Effectiveness

The idea is to teach problem drinkers more responsible drinking habits so that they don’t devolve their habits into all-out alcoholism. Fortunately for us, some recent research about Moderation Management and a newly developed website application component introduced me to some new evidence regarding moderate alcohol drinking that will allow us to look even more deeply into the problem. And now there is even a treatment center focused on moderation as a treatment goal. When you’re looking to drink in moderation, it’s a good idea to designate a few days as no-drinking days. Take some time to decide which days are OK to have a drink and which days are off-limits. The choice between harm reduction vs. abstinence is most often made by an individual after careful reflection and introspection.

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. They may have been “problem drinkers,” “heavy drinkers,” or “binge drinkers.” Individuals with severe AUD often find that in the long term, sobriety is the most achievable goal for them. Keeping alcohol in your life in a healthy way can be really challenging, especially for people who have exhibited more severe drinking habits and patterns. 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.

A study cited by a manufacturer mentioned eight days in which participants decreased their intake from 19 to eight over 6 months and cut their alcohol use in half. A treatment strategy that involves avoiding all substances is the most common moderation management strategy, which leads to a reduction in substance abuse. This moderation management strategy involves avoiding medication and alcohol abuse.

  • Older patients on non-abstinence programs have reported worse results on average compared to younger patients.
  • In other studies of private treatment, Walsh et al. found that only 23 percent of alcohol-abusing workers reported abstaining throughout a 2-year follow-up, although the figure was 37 percent for those assigned to a hospital program.
  • Studies have shown that in some cultures there are a small percentage of people who can return to moderate drinking.
  • If you have health problems related to alcohol, it may be unsafe to drink at all, period.
  • Now, you can receive the support you need in the comfort of your own home.

We explain the benefits of not drinking at all and routinely encourage all new clients to start with a period of abstinence, even if their ultimate goal is moderation. When given a chance to try moderation with professional support and guidance, clients either learn how to drink moderately or they learn that moderation is not realistic for them and that it might be better to stop drinking entirely. Clients who choose abstinence after being unable to moderate consistently are often more motivated and personally invested in making abstinence work for them. Moderation is an alternative that works better for some people.