Author: John Carter

Controlled Drinking vs Abstinence Addiction Recovery

controlled drinking vs abstinence

Rychtarik et al. found that treatment aimed at abstinence or controlled drinking was not related to patients’ ultimate remission type. Booth, Dale, and Ansari (1984), on the other hand, found that patients did achieve their selected goal of abstinence or controlled drinking more often. Miller et al. (in press) found that more dependent drinkers were less likely to achieve CD outcomes but that desired treatment goal and whether one labeled oneself an alcoholic or not independently predicted outcome type. Alcohol moderation management isn’t just about cutting back and reducing your blood alcohol concentration, it’s a deeply personal journey that can empower you to regain control of your life and reconnect with those who matter most. This strategy is not about total abstinence but involves setting moderate drinking goals that are safe and sensible for you, paying attention to social influences that may sway your decisions, and developing self-awareness around your triggers.

controlled drinking vs abstinence

Some people aren’t ready to quit alcohol completely, and are more likely to succeed if they cut back instead. In this case, moderation serves as a harm reduction strategy that minimizes the negative consequences of drinking. It’s a healthy step in a positive direction, and is often achievable with medication. It involves the use of medications like naltrexone which help reduce alcohol cravings.

Exercise is another key factor in recovery due to its numerous benefits such as stress reduction, improvement in mood and sleep patterns in addition to promoting overall wellbeing. Regular physical activity can act as a healthy coping mechanism when dealing with cravings or anxiety related to your efforts towards alcohol moderation management. It’s heartbreaking to see loved ones caught in the grip of addiction, but there’s hope – research shows that many people find success with programmes aimed at reducing consumption. Alcohol moderation management programmes are often successful when tailored to an individual’s specific needs and circumstances.

The Benefits of Quitting Drinking for Good

Nonetheless, Helzer et al. rejected the value of CD outcomes in alcoholism treatment. The path towards moderation management comes with its unique set of challenges which can include social pressure or dealing with underlying emotional issues that contribute towards excessive drinking habits. Individual factors like personal motivation, mental health status, and support system also play a key role in determining how well someone will fare within a programme.

Remember that every person’s journey is unique; there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for managing alcohol intake. Goodwin, Crane, & Guze (1971) found that controlled-drinking remission was four times as frequent as abstinence after eight years for untreated alcoholic felons who had “unequivocal histories of alcoholism”. Results from the 1989 Canadian National Alcohol and Drug Survey confirmed that those who resolve a drinking problem without treatment are more likely to become controlled drinkers. Only 18 percent of 500 recovered alcohol abusers in the survey achieved remission through treatment. But 61 percent of those who achieved remission without treatment continued drinking.

Take our short alcohol quiz to learn where you fall on the drinking spectrum and if you might benefit from quitting or cutting back on alcohol. It’s not an easy road to lasting recovery, but with the right support and resources, it can definitely be a journey worth taking. The crucial factor here isn’t necessarily which path you choose but having a supportive network around you who respects and understands your decision. Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world’s leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

In Britain and other European and Commonwealth countries, controlled-drinking therapy is widely available (Rosenberg et al., 1992). The following six questions explore the value, prevalence, and clinical impact of controlled drinking vs. abstinence outcomes in alcoholism treatment; they are intended to argue the case for controlled drinking as a reasonable and realistic goal. Controlled drinking, often advocated as a moderation approach for people with alcohol use disorders, can be highly problematic and unsuitable for those who truly suffer from alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is characterised by a loss of control over one’s drinking behaviour and an inability to consistently limit consumption. Attempting controlled drinking in such cases often reinforces the addictive cycle rather than breaking it.

Personalised Treatment for Addiction

Psychologically, you might be dealing with a range of emotions from guilt over past incidents to anxiety about future relapses. Also, consider your health – excessive drinking can lead to serious conditions like liver disease or heart problems. While you may see the appeal in a programme that allows for some level of drink intake, it’s crucial to consider the potential drawbacks that could come with this approach. Even moderate drinking can lead to long-term health problems such as liver disease, heart disease, and increased risk of certain cancers.

Moderation techniques such as pacing yourself, choosing lower-alcohol options, or having alcohol-free days can be practical tools in this journey. Severity of alcoholism is the most generally accepted clinical indicator of the appropriateness of CD therapy (Rosenberg, 1993). 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 (Skinner, 1990).

  1. Our program offers expert medical support, recovery coaching, and a variety of tools and resources—all delivered 100 percent virtually.
  2. Individual factors like personal motivation, mental health status, and support system also play a key role in determining how well someone will fare within a programme.
  3. People who have a more severe drinking problem and find moderation difficult to maintain often do better with abstinence.
  4. If you don’t consider yourself an alcoholic or don’t feel comfortable labeling yourself one, practicing moderation helps you avoid having that discussion when you’re not in the mood.
  5. Alcoholism is a complex issue characterised by a range of behavioural, physical, and psychological factors.

Emotional resilience begins to grow as you learn new ways to cope with stress or anxiety without reaching for a drink. A key aspect of abstinence is understanding and navigating through the withdrawal process – a daunting task indeed but necessary for recovery. The severity of these symptoms can vary widely depending on how much you are drinking, how frequently, and your overall physical health. Your sobriety journey is personal, and what works best for you may not work as well for someone else.

How Many Drinks a Day Is Considered an Alcoholic?

Vaillant (1983) labeled abstinence as drinking less than once a month and including a binge lasting less than a week each year. Edwards et al. (1983) reported that controlled drinking is more unstable than abstinence for alcoholics over time, but recent studies have found that controlled drinking increases over longer follow-up periods. Finney and Moos (1991) reported a 17 percent “social or moderate drinking” rate at 6 years and a 24 percent rate at 10 years. In studies by McCabe (1986) and Nordström and Berglund (1987), CD outcomes exceeded abstinence during follow-up of patients 15 and more years after treatment.

The negative effects of your drinking may have turned you off of alcohol entirely, and that’s completely okay. If your reason for choosing abstinence is simply that you want to, that’s a perfectly valid reason to quit alcohol altogether. The number of drinks consumed per day alone is not a sufficient criterion to use when trying to diagnose someone with an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Alcoholism is a complex issue characterised by a range of behavioural, physical, and psychological factors. At CATCH Recovery, we understand that your journey towards overcoming addiction is deeply personal and unique to you.

According to Finney and Moos (1991), 37 percent of patients reported they were abstinent at all follow-up years 4 through 10 after treatment. Clearly, most research agrees that most alcoholism patients drink at some point following treatment. Abstinence benefits extend beyond just physical improvements though; they also encompass mental health improvements.

Social stability at intake was negatively related in Rychtarik et al. to consumption as a result either of abstinence or of limited intake. Apparently, social stability predicts that alcoholics will succeed better whether they choose abstinence or reduced drinking. But other research indicates that the pool of those who achieve remission can be expanded by having broader treatment goals. Despite the reported relationship between severity and CD outcomes, many diagnosed alcoholics do control their drinking. The Rand study quantified the relationship between severity of alcohol dependence and controlled-drinking outcomes, although, overall, the Rand population was a severely alcoholic one in which “virtually all subjects reported symptoms of alcohol dependence” (Polich, Armor, and Braiker, 1981).