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Do-It-Yourself Moderate Drinking

Do-It-Yourself Moderate Drinking

Are you interested in moderating your drinking? Many individuals are! Here are two books which provide everything you need to know about moderate drinking.
Responsible Drinking: A Moderation Management Approach for Problem Drinkers
This book, by Rotgers, F., Kern, M. & Hoeltzel, R. (CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2002) is the basic text of Moderation Management (MM), a support group which helps individuals moderate drinking, or abstain. The first two authors are addiction experts who also volunteer on MM’s Board of Directors. The final author was successful in the MM program. MM offers a summary of its program on its website, and you might wish to start there: www.moderation.org. This book, which provides in-depth coverage of MM’s rationale, the scientific research supporting moderation as a legitimate drinking goal, and the MM tool-box of self-management skills and methods, is the next step. The information (in the book or from the website) is valuable regardless of whether you choose to participate in MM groups.  Fortunately, for many individuals, success in abstaining from or moderating alcohol consumption can be obtained either by reading good self-help materials, such as this one, or attending a free support group.  Attending addiction treatment, or alcohol and drug rehab, is not necessarily needed.
Controlling Your Drinking: Tools to Make Moderation Work for You
This book, by Miller, W. R. & Muñoz, R. (NY: Guilford Press, 2005) was first released in 1975. Although moderate drinking (for individuals who have had drinking problems) remains a controversial idea, in 1975 this idea was even more controversial. It was an act of courage for this book to be published at that time. This latest edition includes tools for moderation based on the most up-to-date research. Both authors are researcher-therapists, and leaders in the field of addiction and client education. Miller is a now-retired professor of psychology of the University of New Mexico, and Muñoz is a medical doctor. Although they are deeply familiar with the extensive research that supports moderation as a suitable goal for many individuals who have had drinking problems, they are write in a direct and easily understandable was.
There is significant overlap between the information in each book. Both are based on the same body of research. Both use the same government standards for what is considered “moderate” or “safer” drinking. You may prefer the style of one book over another. Either one alone is likely to be sufficient for most individuals.
Can moderate drinking be a success?
Some traditional addiction professionals have suggested that attempts at moderate drinking are just a way to avoid the inevitable acceptance of lifetime abstinence. Both books state this idea in a different way. They suggest that if true moderation (drinking at non-harmful levels) is not achieved in a reasonable amount of time, abstinence is the next step. What is a reasonable amount of time? This amount will vary by individual, of course, and be related to what happens when the individual drinks excessively. For instance, when you over-drink, do you end up with a hangover, or do you end up in the hospital or in jail? In general, if moderation is not firmly achieved in weeks to months, it becomes increasingly unlikely unless professional help is sought (and it may not be achievable even with professional help).
A crucial benefit of pursuing moderation for many individuals is that the attempt finally tests whether their hope (enjoying the benefits of drinking without experiencing the negative consequences) can be a reality. If the hope is not realized, these individuals may become more motivated to resolve their drinking problems by abstaining. For these individuals attempting moderation is not a way to avoid the inevitable, but a step in the direction of a life without alcohol problems. The final step to abstinence can be taken with confidence, because the moderation option has been well tested and found not workable for that individual.
Fortunately, many individuals are able to moderate their drinking, even some individuals who have had severe drinking problems. In general, however, if you have had fewer problems, less severe problems, and had them for months or years rather than decades, the more likely you are to moderate.