Are friends and family giving you a hard time about your happy hour habit? Are you able to manage, limit and control your drinking or do you have a more serious problem with alcohol? The debate continues in the world of recovery, especially as more problem drinkers successfully discover that learning to moderate their problem drinking may trump a life of total abstinence. If they can, that is. It doesn't work for everyone. Moderation Management or MM, like AA consists of meetings, peer support and online services to support problem drinkers.
Just for the record, MM would prefer that clients maintain a 30-day period of abstinence as a suggestion to test whether one can abstain from alcohol for a short period of time (it also gives the brain a break from alcohol). This test also provides an opportunity to shine the light on your lifestyle, patterns and habits, and the role that alcohol likely plays in your life. Which opens the door for you to really think about the nature of your relationship with alcohol. Is it your primary relationship? Is drinking your main hobby or preoccupation? How would your life, your work, your relationships improve without alcohol? Can you seriously commit and maintain a life of moderation, or is abstinence a better (and possibly the only) option for you? These are all really good, and difficult questions to kick around. The 30-day without alcohol trial gives clients an opportunity to understand and evaluate personal strengths and weaknesses (with a clear head!) and sort out one's priorities.
If you're at a point in your life where you're ready to get some help, click on the Moderation Management website FAQs to help clarify whether your drinking is a problem, or not. Have a look at this article from one of my favorite addiction websites The Fix on how to moderate your problem drinking. Also read these articles from Psychology Today: Abstinence is Not the Only Option and Toast to Moderation. Some have found the book How to Change Your Drinking: A Harm Reduction Guide to Alcohol, by Kenneth Anderson helpful. If meetings and support groups are of interest to you, consider SMART which stands for self-management and recovery training.
Moderation Management is not the appropriate solution for all problem drinkers and abstinence is the only option for many. There is a subgroup of MM members who would certainly meet the formal diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence. These are individuals who report blackouts, shaking when not intoxicated, delirium tremens, convulsions and cravings for alcohol when waking or who have experienced consequences related to legal issues, harm to themselves and others, and problems with their job, health, and family situation. If you're not sure about whether you are alcohol dependent vs a problem drinker, and to ensure your safety, it is important to work with a mental health expert to help you figure it out. You can then smartly create a treatment plan that best supports your recovery. An addiction expert can help make distinctions between problem drinkers who are able to return to moderate drinking and those individuals who are not.
Please google or find on iTunes these APPS that may serve as companions in your recovery. Some of the apps below may provide helpful skills and tools to address any underlying issues that drive your problem drinking such as trauma, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, anxiety and more:
- iPromises Recovery Companion for iPhone
- iRecovery for iPhone and Android
- Steps Away for iPhone and Android (locate meetings)
- 12 Steps AA Companion for iPhone and Android
- NHS Drinks Tracker for iPhone
- BL Alcohol Calculator for Android
- Anxiety Coach for iPhone and Android
- LifeArmor (for the military community)
- iCounselor OCD for iPhone
- iCounselor Anger for iPhone
- iCounselor Depression for iPhone
- iCounselor Eating Disorders for iPhone
- iCounselor Anxiety for iPhone
- Worry Box for Android
- PTSD Coach (National Center for PTSD) for iPhone and Android
- DBT Self Help iPhone
- DBT Diary Card iPhone
- iCouch CBT for iPhone
- Cognitive Diary CBT Self-Help for Android
- CBT Referee for iPhone and Android
Practice acceptance, try compassion and change what you can. Take care, KS