Why Is Moderation Management Not a Real Option?

Moderation Management

If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, you may be considering a Moderation Management program. It’s everything it initially sounds like, you’re looking at ways to moderate your intake, but do you need moderation? There are times when a person can moderate themselves, but that’s not the normal situation. Most people are abstainers, and moderation is not something that is easy or realistic as an expectation.

The terms “abstainer” and moderator often refer to food, but it applies wholly to drug and alcohol use as well. Abstainers are the people who say, “No, I can’t have just one drink,” or “just one more won’t hurt.” While moderators are the people who will order one drink and without a second thought know that it’s their last for the night or week.

What is Moderation Management?

Moderation Management started as the idea of someone who had a bad experience with an AA meeting. To top it off, the meeting was court-ordered as part of a DUI. Now, it’s true that not everyone who has received a DUI is an alcoholic.

Moderation Management is a program that preaches abstinence targeting “problem drinkers.” While it doesn’t outright speak against the 12-step programs, it certainly doesn’t address the clear gap in needs that people need for support. The goal of this program is to change behaviors to reduce drinking and risky behavior that comes with drinking, such as drunk driving.

So, members use nine steps to go through monitoring and goal setting for drinking restrictions. Then there are clear rules such as “no drinking and driving,” and in theory, if you break that rule, then you’re no longer an MM member and likely need an abstinence-based program instead. Ultimately, this group tries to address the oppressive nature of being forced into change or being told you’re an addict when you truly are not. For most people considering treatment, that’s not the case.

Why is Moderation Management a Bad Idea for an Alcoholic?

There are very few elements of addiction that are the same for everyone, but one of them is at moderation just doesn’t work—the reason why can often tie to the “one coin” lesson. In short, the lesson explains that if you have one coin, you’re not rich, but when adding one coin at a time, there will be a point where one coin tips the scales. When it comes to drinking, you can apply the same theory.

If you have one drink, does that make you an alcoholic? No. What about two drinks? No. But at some point, you’ve stopped moderating, and that person has become an alcoholic. When you look at sobriety, it’s clear that moderation is not just a slippery slope, for an alcoholic, it’s not an option. One drink on Monday will eventually turn into three, or four, or a binge. It’s not fair to dangle this unattainable goal in the effort to get around the real issue.

Harm Reduction V. Sobriety

Moderation Management preaches creating a positive lifestyle through harm reduction, but for many moderation is a terrible place to be. Having one drink and then stopping is hard. But, having one drink and then breaking that moderation and diving into destructive behavior is the more likely outcome for alcoholics.

Although Moderation Management boasts on its website that they’re accepted or listed formally with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as well as SAMHSA’s registry, it’s not a full-proof plan. Now, there is evidence that backs up Moderation Management in that many people who aren’t alcoholics benefit from having rules in place and a community of people around them that are also concerned about their levels of drinking.

Reducing it down, though, the resounding message is that Moderation Management is not for people with an addiction problem. That means that for people with Alcohol Use Disorder. Even MM acknowledges that about 30% leave Moderation Management for abstinence-based programs.

Is Rehabilitation Right for You?

If you’re not sure if you’re a problem drinker, or if you need an alcohol rehabilitation program, then you should schedule an appointment with Rehab Carolinas. Our initial appointment is to get to know each other and determine if rehabilitation is necessary. Many don’t realize the extent or impact of their drinking, while others have been encouraged or goaded into considering rehabilitation when there is no drinking problem.

At Rehab Carolinas, we offer outpatient programs that allow people to keep up with their normal day to day routines while still building the resources and skillset to succeed. Moderation Management simply hasn’t proven successful for people with an alcohol addiction, and often addiction requires abstaining from alcohol rather than attempting to moderate an impulse and addictive behavior.

Rehab Carolinas logo