balance-moderation-abstinenceI’m going to be really honest – if you’ve been drinking very heavily for years or decades, tend to binge to black-outs or started drinking at an early age – abstinence is easier.  However, if you REALLY want to be able to drink moderately or socially, then it is a potential option for you if it is something that you are willing to commit to and truly work at – because learning to moderate your drinking takes a lot of work.  But I did it – and you can too.

So, having said that, you have to determine WHY you want to drink moderately vs. quitting altogether.  Here are some thoughts for consideration.

If you don’t want to give up your favorite wines or beers, or feel left out at social drinking events, or have a label hanging over your head such as “alcoholic,” then moderation will definitely be a more attractive strategy for you.  But for greatest success, you have to be willing to work through the exercises and follow the steps recommended in the moderation program, and in this case, it is the MODER8 program.  If you only have the supplements but don’t have the workbook or support community membership, then consider purchasing the downloadable MODER8 eWorkbook for only $9 (click here) or even joining the MODER8 Support Community for only $7 per month (click here). Support and accountability make a huge impact on your success.

An important note here is that moderation is not drinking 3-4 drinks daily (see So What is Moderate Drinking Anyway?).  However striving toward the GOAL of moderate drinking can help you to cut back on what you currently drink and taper off…so that if, for example, you normally drink a 12-pack of beer a day and you cut back to 6 beers a day – that’s progress and gives you more confidence to know that you can drink less and you can control your drinking to a certain degree.

Then eventually you can take the next step and begin to plan in some alcohol-free (AF) days – one at a time – until you start to experience what going without alcohol is like and build the skills for dealing with life without turning to drinking to escape.

While initially causing you to feel deprived of your “best friend,” abstinence can result in a life change that will take you to a new level in terms of staying in control, and achieving the goals and lifestyle you’ve always imaged, no longer allowing alcohol to get in the way of your performance, relationships or health. (For more on this I recommend you read this inspiring book by a friend of mind on leading a fulfilled sober life – click here).  Abstinence is particularly most appropriate for people that want a quick fix, don’t really want to put the work into self-discovery or going through the exercises to learn the skills, or people that have tried moderation repeatedly and have been unsuccessful the majority of time.  Also, if you are in a 12-step abstinence based program and it is working for you, I don’t recommend that you switch to moderation – “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

However, for some, abstinence leaves them with a feeling that they are “different”…in a negative way. That there is something wrong with them… and they know down deep in their gut that they are capable of drinking socially if they just make some changes or learn some skills.  Or perhaps you are in AA or other abstinence based program that just doesn’t seem right for you, then moderation is an excellent choice.

Whichever method you choose, make it one of the highest priorities in your life.  Stay mindful and vigilant, and as always, I recommend striving for a balanced life that includes good nutrition, exercise, positive relationships, and take supplements such as GABA (over 500 mg.), SAMe, 5-HTP or MODER8 to help you stay calm and in control.