The History and True Story of Moderation Management

Moderation Management for alcohol took off in the 2000s to the early 2010s but hit an alarming stop almost overnight? Why did it take so long for a system to grab attention, and why did it stop so suddenly? What was once thought to be the next AA is now not often mentioned even within the recovery community.

The story of the rise and failures of Moderation Management is something that is a harrowing tale for anyone who has witnessed addiction. It starts out as many other people do, believing that they’re not addicts, and then ends in another all too common situation.  Ultimately you’ll see that moderation isn’t a reasonable alcohol addiction treatment option, and it isn’t something that a person with an “alcohol problem” can stick with long term.

Audrey Kishline and Her Brush with Alcohol

Audrey Kishline was a normal person, and after a DUI, she received a court-ordered rehabilitation stay. About a month into her stay, she had a “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” sensation where she knew deep in her soul that she did not belong in a rehab center. Not only did she not belong there because she wasn’t an alcoholic, but even as a “problem drinker,” she was not as bad as the others in the center.

In 1994 she founded Moderation Management as a community system for “problem drinkers” that were interested in controlling their own drinking habits. Then in 1995, she published Moderate Drinking: The Moderation Management Guide for People Who want to Reduce Their Drinking. The title itself covers everything and acts essentially to stand for “problem drinkers” the same way the Big Book guides AA meetings and members.

Each MM meeting had a leader, and the idea struck many as something worth digging into. Kishline appeared on Oprah,  was featured in Time magazine and other well-known publications as well. The struggle was that many identified with Kishline as someone improperly identified as an alcoholic for what was a mistake. But, Kishline avidly discussed that she was concerned about her drinking and wanted to take control of it.

The Boom of Moderation Management for Alcohol

In the early 2000s, MM took off and quickly. It was seen as the alternative to AA that people with an “alcohol problem” could still drink as long as they had rules. When MM boomed, it was largely because the foundation or principle thought behind it was that the disease of alcoholism was a myth. It gave a lot of people license to claim that there was no such thing as alcoholism.

It was a movement of freedom and exploration where people could reduce their drinking but not live with the stigma of addiction and alcoholism. They weren’t labeled and could drink at parties or after work to socialize.

The Death of a Girl and Her Father

Unknown to the MM community, Kishline was not following the rules she had laid out for MM, and it led to a fatal crash on Interstate-90. Kishline survived the wreck, but a 12-year-old girl and that girl’s father did not. She hit a pickup truck in a head-on collision. While Kishline went on to serve about four years in jail, the MM movement continued to thrive.

Controversy after controversy couldn’t stop this until finally, Kishline began to speak out about her new views. Not only was she now aware that she was an addict but that the MM model doesn’t really fit for most people. She still supports that people wanting to cut back on their drinking could use MM, but that most people need to practice abstinence.

Following the jail time, Kishline continued to speak publicly about addiction, and about moderation. She no longer promoted Moderation Management for alcohol as an alternative to AA or other abstinence-based programs that are meant to empower people into sobriety.

Are You Ready for Help?

At Rehab Carolinas, you can get more information on treatment for rehabilitation and get on the right step with sobriety. Moderation is something that people without addiction can practice. But, the nature of addiction is that it’s a problem for you and for those around you and that moderation isn’t possible. Contact Rehab Carolinas to get insight into your alcohol addiction treatment options.

Get past the point where you want to legitimize or justify your drinking or drug use. If you’re justifying it, and trying to preach that you can set rules for yourself, but know that you don’t follow them, then you’re putting yourself and others at risk. Take this story as one of warning to set the record straight for yourself.