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Moderation Management: A Different Approach to Alcohol Use

For many people in the United States, getting a handle on their alcohol use has long meant seeking out an abstinence-based program such as AA or Smart. While these programs have helped millions, they do not work for everyone. This article introduces MM, a program that defines success not as total abstinence but as reduced use and a legitimate form of harm reduction.

Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the world. It’s somewhat surprising, therefore, that support programs for alcohol use disorder lean so heavily on one kind of response: the total-abstinence approach championed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and similar groups.

One of the classic criticisms of the AA approach is that it defines success as no drinking whatsoever. For a great many persons, that definition may be what’s necessary. As this article from The Guardian points out, the success rate with total-abstinence programs is far from ideal. Many people have found the goal of total abstinence unreachable, undesirable, or both.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that they have no interest in better controlling and limiting their alcohol use. It does mean that a different approach may be needed.

Moderation management (MM) is one such approach. Grounded in harm reduction rather than abstinence, its popularity is spreading rapidly across the U.S. and the world. This article provides a great introduction to MM, and includes the testimony of many participants. It’s well worth a read.

One word of caution, however: the article also includes a rather disturbing true story from the author’s family. It’s there for a good reason, driving home the point that there are many paths both into and out of substance use disorder. But the story is shocking all the same.

Read the full article from The Guardian by clicking the link below:


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In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)