Moderation vs. Long-Term Abstinence – What’s More Effective?

Most people considering recovery from alcohol abuse think that abstaining from alcohol use forever is the only choice in front of them. However, when it comes to alcohol recovery, there are two different theories that may be used at an alcohol recovery center. One theory used for the majority of treatment modalities is that total abstinence is needed for recovery, while another theory, moderation management (MM), asserts that addiction can be controlled through moderation. Both theories have some substance, but which is more effective?


The traditional treatment method that is generally used at an alcohol recovery center is abstinence. This treatment method involves avoiding the use and abuse of the substance completely. When abstinence is achieved, it’s very effective, but the biggest problem for some is just reaching the abstinence goal. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, extended abstinence offers great results and the longer abstinence is maintained, the lower the risk of relapse.

Patients who seek abstinence will usually require professional treatment at an alcohol recovery center to reach this goal. Long-term abstinence is more likely to occur when patients seek professional treatment. Not only is long-term abstinence effective for alcohol abusers, it’s also effective for individuals dealing with other addictions as well.

Moderation Management

This alternative path some individuals utilize to overcome addiction is moderation management, and some individual believe that substance abusers have the ability to achieve this while still using alcohol on occasion. According to this theory, individuals who are not physically dependent on alcohol and who have dealt with few negative effects from abuse behaviors may find this option effective.

While this theory is becoming more popular, many alcohol recovery center treatment professionals don’t advise moderation in recovery. Today, studies show that as many as 50% of addiction counselors believe that it may be acceptable for some of their patients to occasionally have a drink, however, it is a risky choice to do so.

Audrey Kishline founded the Moderation Management organization in 1994. While Kishline felt that she had a problem with alcohol, she didn’t think it was a chronic illness or disease. She started the idea of using moderation instead of abstinence, and the program uses accountability to ensure that individuals stay on track with moderation. However, it’s important to note that moderation didn’t work for Kishline, despite the fact that she still supports this method today.

For some individuals, moderation has worked. However, many alcohol abusers will find that drinking in moderation may lead them back into the sinkhole of alcohol dependency, leading them back for relapse treatment to an alcohol rehab in Fort Lauderdale, such as Evolutions Treatment, or another facility which they have entered before. In many cases, when drinkers try to curb their drinking they find that they cannot achieve moderation, which may make them realize that they need professional treatment to change their behaviors.

Getting Help with Evolutions

The bottom line is that an individual approach to treatment and recovery is necessary because each person's situation is different. Here at Evolutions Treatment Center, our individualized treatment plan has been proven time and time again to help achieve a successful, lasting recovery from addiction. To learn more, call 1-800-795-8527 to speak with a specialist today.