One of the most common questions people struggling with drinking and trying to stop drinking ask is whether they really need to quit forever. Can you learn to drink in moderation? Can They Become Social Drinkers? Is it true that you can never have a drink again?
For years it was believed the answer was no. There is no place for “just one drink” for someone with a drinking problem. Nowadays there are programs like moderation management that allow for some level of controlled drinking and have helped many learn to drink safely. However, these programs are not intended for everyone.
What is moderate drinking?
“Moderate consumption” is limited to one or two alcoholic drinks per day for healthy men and one alcoholic drink per day for healthy women. One drink is the equivalent of 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled alcohol.
Those who commit to a Moderation Management (MM) program must undergo a 30-day period of abstinence that includes strategies for identifying and controlling triggers, adopting other healthy behaviors and activities as substitutes for drinking and for control learn about future moderate drinking behavior. MM asks participants to take a realistic look at their drinking habits and reasons for drinking.
Moderate drinking is possible for some individuals who have previously had a problem with alcohol, even those who joined Alcoholics Anonymous, although it is likely that such individuals did not have an official alcohol use disorder (commonly known as “alcoholism”). They could have been “problem drinkers”, “heavy drinkers” or “binge drinkers”.
Moderation management has been found to be most effective for those who have a problem with drinking but who do not meet the criteria and who have not been diagnosed with moderate or severe alcohol use disorder.
Many people struggling with heavy or unhealthy alcohol use or alcohol use disorders who try to drink moderately find that abstinence is the only option. Here are some reasons why drinking moderately might not work for people with an alcohol use disorder:
- Withdrawal symptoms may occur when trying to reduce alcohol.
- You can quickly forget about the downside of drinking, including hangovers, power outages, upset stomach, and next day remorse.
- Once you start drinking, you may not be able to predict or control how much alcohol you will end up consuming.
If you have an alcohol use disorder, a number of symptoms may occur when you try to reduce or stop drinking, including:
- Bad dreams
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- I feel nervous or nervous
- Irritability or arousal easily
- Rapid emotional changes
- Damp skin
- High blood pressure
- a headache
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fast heart rate (palpitations)
- Sweating, especially the palms of the hands or face
- Trembling of your hands
If you don’t live with an alcohol use disorder, making small changes can make a big difference when it comes to mitigating your drinking and reducing your risk of an alcohol problem, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism...
Track your intake
Whether you have a physical card in your wallet or you are using your smartphone, try to keep track of your drinks to better manage your consumption. Also, make sure the drinks you are counting are standard sizes (12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits). Of course, this is easier to do at home – but you can try to let the bartender or waiter know your needs.
Set achievable goals
If you want to drink in moderation, it is a good idea to mark some days as non-drinking days. Take some time to decide which days you can drink and which days you can not eat.
Inquire about medication
The drug naltrexone (commonly sold under the brand names Revia, Depade, or Vivitrol) has been found to help people drink in moderation by blocking the pleasant effects of alcohol and thereby decreasing the craving for more alcohol with consistent use (i.e. every time the person drinks)..With the Sinclair Method, Revia or Vivitrol must be taken one hour before drinking alcohol.
After four to six months of treatment with the Sinclair Method, 80% of people who had consumed alcohol excessively either drank moderately or abstained completely.
Look for healthy alternatives
One of the best things to do to help mitigate your drinking is to fill the time you spend drinking or consuming with fun hobbies and activities. That way, you can even identify triggers that make you drink, such as: B. certain social situations, work stress or even boredom.
Schedule your “no” script
If you drink in moderation, you will likely need to refuse a drink every now and then. Planning carefully how to say no quickly, politely, and persuasively can help you hold onto your beliefs and avoid a spiral of uncomfortable excuses.
Speak through urges
Whether through talking to yourself or talking to a trusted friend, family member, or health care professional, it’s important to talk about your urge and remember why you chose to moderate your drinking in the first place. Learning to accept these feelings and find healthy ways to distract yourself from them can also cope with the urge to drink.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-4357 Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.
Additional mental health resources can be found in our National Helpline Database.