Can an Alcoholic Drink in Moderation?

If you or a loved one is struggling with excessive alcohol use, know that you’re not alone. Millions of people in the U.S. alone are affected by alcohol addiction, and sadly, it can be hard to identify problematic drinking because the substance is legal and societally normalized to a great degree. Nonetheless, alcohol plays a major role in many serious negative health events, such as heart disease, liver failure, and death due to driving under the influence.   

The good news is that because alcohol addiction is relatively common and well-understood, there are many effective treatments for it. If you’d like to learn more about important topics, such as whether an alcoholic can drink in moderation or if you are ready to enroll in alcohol addiction treatment, call 17135283709. The caring team at The Right Step is standing by at this number or via online messages to help you find quality treatment.   

Can An Alcoholic Ever Drink in Moderation?  

One important point to consider when evaluating whether moderate drinking is feasible is whether alcohol use disorder (AUD) is present or has been present in the past. Having an AUD diagnosis strongly decreases the odds that consuming “just one or two drinks” at a time will ever be possible. That said, for those whose drinking does not generally meet the following AUD criteria, moderate drinking may be feasible even if heavy drinking has occurred at some point:  

  • Drinking for longer or at a greater volume than you set out to  
  • Spending a large amount of your time involved with alcohol in one way or another, whether it’s actively drinking or getting over the after-effects   
  • Single-mindedly focusing on alcohol, i.e. having intense cravings  
  • Experiencing declines in relationships, job, or school performance due to your drinking interfering in your ability to function or interact in healthy ways  
  • Continuing to drink despite negative side effects such as loss of friends or jobs, or liver disease  
  • Avoiding or giving up activities you used to enjoy in favor of drinking   
  • Engaging, on multiple occasions, in dangerous activities such as unsafe sex or drinking under the influence because your judgment is clouded by alcohol  
  • Having withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, uneasiness, shakiness, and sweating if you go for even a short period without drinking  
  • Having blackouts, periods where you cannot form memories of what’s happening or what you’re doing due to intoxication  

If Moderation Management Is Right for Me, What’s Involved in This Treatment Approach?   

If you do not and have never had a moderate or severe alcohol use disorder, your provider may tell you moderate drinking is possible. If this is the case, you might undergo a treatment called moderation management (MM). This usually involves a month-long period of complete abstinence, during which you’ll work to identify your triggers. This is intended to give you the strength to say “no” to drinks beyond the moderate level in the future. This means you’ll drink no more than one a day if you’re female-bodied and no more than two if you’re male-bodied.   

During your period of abstinence and skill building, you’ll also likely work on developing other areas of your life that support healthy functioning. For example, you may set up recurring commitments such as yoga classes or support groups that provide ongoing involvement with alcohol-free activities. Ensuring you have continuing access to one-on-one mental health counseling can also be a great way to maintain your resolve to drink only in moderation.  

All this said, there are nonetheless potential drawbacks to moderate drinking as well. For instance, you may lose sight of the negative aspects of drinking, such as blackouts, hangovers, and remorse that accompany heavier consumption. This, coupled with the fact that even one drink can impede rational decision-making, can lead many to fall back into unhealthy heavy drinking. If you’re hoping to become a moderate drinker, be sure to discuss the following at length with your healthcare provider or addiction specialist:   

  • Your reasons for drinking in the first place, especially any interpersonal or trauma-based reasons  
  • How often you drink, and in what context 
  • How long you’ve been a drinker, and when in your life you started drinking  
  • Whether you have a family history of alcohol addiction  

 If you are concerned that you are drinking too much, your drinking is affecting your daily life, or you feel you can’t function without drinking, it is important to reach out for professional help and treatment.  

Begin Alcohol Addiction Treatment at The Right Step  

While it may be challenging to tackle the complex question of whether moderate drinking is workable for you or your loved one, it’s possible to reach a satisfactory answer by dialoguing honestly with qualified professionals. Know that, whatever the answer is, effective support is available. Call The Right Step at 17135283709 or reach out online for assistance with this process. We have treatment centers in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, and Tennessee, and can also make referrals.   

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