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Moderation -vs- Abstinence
by Janet Carey LPC
Many people may wonder at times if their own or a loved one's drinking could possibly be a problem. They don't want to quit drinking and would like help to drink safely.
We may be able to help you do just that. Here's how.
Research shows that many people who have had problems with alcohol at some point in their lives can successfully moderate their use.   
In the many years that I've had the privilege to assist clients in managing their relationship with alcohol, I've noticed that some people are successful with moderation, and some are not. Read below about the 3 things to look for to be successful with moderation.
No Physical Dependence
It is usually quite difficult for someone who has crossed the line into physical dependency to moderate their drinking. I will assess whether this is the case for you.  Here are some general guidelines to help you know whether you have physical dependence:
  • You feel the 'need' to drink alcohol in the morning.
  • You suffer physical withdrawal (illness) when you attempt to stop drinking.
  • You drink daily.
  • You notice that it takes more alcohol to get the same effect, so you increase the amount you drink.
  • You have repeated negative consequences due to your drinking, such as DUIs, people complaining about your drinking, your career or work being affected, or health problems
If you have crossed the line into physical dependency, you may be able to practice moderation in the future, but you need to cleanse and detoxify your system first in order to lay a good foundation.  
I can recommend safe ways to do this, either with the assistance of your physician or in a hospital setting.
No Repeated Negative Consequences
Attempting to moderate your drinking may be risky if you have had repeated negative consequences from drinking, such as multiple DUI's, relationship problems, health problems, legal problems, etc.

Goal-Directed and Able to Set Limits
If you want to moderate your drinking, but are unable to do the work necessary to reach this goal, moderation may not be a reasonable goal for you.
To be successful, both moderation and abstinence require planning and awareness. Successfully practicing moderation requires that you are consistently able to:
  • Create a plan of 'safe' amounts of alcohol to drink and use it consistently
  • Stop drinking once you start
  • Set up strategies to carry out this plan that works every time  
Some people find it harder to moderate than to abstain.
What research shows does not work:  having vague goals such as "I'm just trying to cut back" with no quantifiable ways to hold yourself accountable and measure your results.

Moving Forward
If you or a loved one are interested in exploring these ideas with me, I guarantee one thing: I will approach your goal of abstinence or moderation with respect and compassion.
I will assist you in creating a plan that is clear and measurable. I will be honest with you about whether your goal of moderation makes sense for your situation. I will point out any 'yellow flashing caution signs' that I see as we work together with this process. And I will support you in ways that work for you.  
And we will probably even have some fun!
If you'd like to chat about what might work for you, please give me a call at 503-342-2510 or email me.  
If you are ready to get started, let's set up an appointment. I take nearly all forms of health insurance to make it easy for you.
Why wait?
Give me a call at 503-342-2510 or email.