One of the most common questions for people who are struggling with drinking and trying to give up is whether they really have to stop drinking forever. Can they learn how to drink in moderation? Can they become social drinkers? Can they really have another drink?
For many years, the answer has been considered no. For anyone with drinking problems, there is no room for “just a drink”. Today, there are programs like moderate management, which do allow a certain degree of control over drinking and help many people learn to drink safely. However, these procedures are not suitable for everyone.
What is moderate drinking?
“Moderate consumption” is limited to healthy men drinking one or two glasses of alcoholic beverages a day, and healthy women can only drink one glass of alcoholic beverages a day. One drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
Those committed to a moderate management (MM) program must go through a 30-day abstinence period, during which they learn to identify and control triggers, adopt other healthy behaviors and activities to replace drinking, and manage strategies for future moderate drinking behaviors. MM requires participants to look at their drinking styles and reasons in a realistic manner.
For some people with previous alcohol problems, moderate drinking is possible, even those who have joined an anonymous abstinence meeting, although these people are likely to have no formal alcohol use disorder (often referred to as “alcoholism”). They may be “problem drinkers”, “heavy drinkers” or “alcoholics”.
Moderate management is most successful for people who have drinking problems but do not meet the criteria and have not been diagnosed with moderate or severe alcohol use disorder.
Many people who struggle with heavy or unhealthy alcohol use or alcohol use disorders and try to drink in moderation begin to realize that abstinence is the only option. Here are a few reasons why moderate drinking may not work for people with alcohol use disorder:
- When trying to reduce alcohol, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.
- You may quickly forget the bad effects of drinking, including hangovers, coma, stomach upset and regret the next day.
- Once you start drinking, you may not be able to predict or control how much alcohol you will eventually consume.
If you have an alcohol use disorder, if you try to reduce or stop drinking, you may experience various symptoms, including:
- Hard to think clearly
- Feeling nervous or nervous
- Irritable or easily excited
- Rapid mood changes
- Clammy skin
- High blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased heart rate (palpitations)
- Sweating, especially on the palms or face
- Your hands are shaking
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, if you are not alcoholic, then small changes in reducing alcohol intake and reducing the risk of alcoholism may have a big impact.
Track your intake
Whether you are carrying a physical card in your wallet or using a smartphone, you can try to track your drinks to better control your consumption. Likewise, make sure that the beverage you calculate is a standard size (12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits). Of course, this is easier to do at home-but you can try to communicate your needs to the bartender or waiter.
Set achievable goals
If you want to drink in moderation, it is best to designate a few days as prohibition days. Take some time to decide which days you can have a drink and which days are forbidden.
Ask about medications
The drug naltrexone (usually sold under brands such as Revia, Depade, or Vivitrol) has been found to help people learn how to drink moderately by blocking the pleasurable effects of alcohol, thereby reducing further cravings for more alcohol (ie , Every time the person drinks).For the Sinclair method, Revia or Vivitrol must be taken one hour before drinking alcohol.
At the end of four to six months of treatment with Sinclair’s method, 80% of people who drink excessively either drink moderately or abstain completely.
Seek healthy alternatives
One of the best ways to reduce drinking is to fill up drinking or drinking time with interesting hobbies and activities. By doing this, you can even identify any incentives that lead to drinking—for example, certain social situations, work pressure, or even boredom.
Plan your “no” script
Drinking in moderation means that you may need to refuse to drink from time to time. Planning exactly how you will refuse—in a quick, polite, and convincing way—can make it easier for you to stick to your beliefs and avoid a series of uncomfortable excuses.
Whether it’s through self-talk or conversations with trusted friends, family, or healthcare professionals, it’s important to talk about your impulses and remind yourself why you chose to drink modestly in the first place. Learning to accept these feelings and find healthy ways to distract yourself will also greatly help you deal with any urge to drink.