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.