According to the NIAAA and many other independent researchers, there are
four times as many problem drinkers as alcoholics in this country. Yet there
are very few programs that specifically address the needs of beginning stage
problem drinkers, while there are literally thousands of programs for the
smaller population who are seriously alcohol dependent.
By the time people reach serious stages of alcohol dependency, changing
drinking becomes more difficult, and treatment is usually costly. MM believes
that this situation needs to be remedied in the interest of public health
and human kindness with early intervention and harm reduction programs. Moderation
programs are less costly, shorter in duration, less intensive, and have higher
success rates than traditional abstinence-only approaches.
Nine out of ten problem drinkers today actively and purposefully avoid traditional
treatment approaches. This is because they know that most traditional programs
will label them as "alcoholic", probably force attendance at 12 step
and abstinence based meetings, and prescribe lifetime abstinence as the only
acceptable change in drinking.
They may also have real concerns about how their participation in these
programs will affect their jobs and ability to attain future medical and
life insurance. MM is seen as a less threatening first step, and one that
problem drinkers are more likely to attempt before their problems become
Not surprisingly, approximately 30% of MM members go on to abstinence-based
programs. This is consistent with research findings from professional
moderation training programs. Traditional approaches that are based on the
disease model of alcohol dependence and its reliance on the concept
of powerlessness can be particularly counterproductive for women and minorities,
who often already feel like victims and powerless.
Outcome studies indicate that professional programs which offer both moderation
and abstinence have higher success rates than those that offer abstinence
only. Clients tend to self-select the behavior change options which
will work best for them.
What is Moderation Management?
Moderation Management (MM) is a behavioral change program and national support
group network for people concerned about their drinking and who desire to
make positive lifestyle changes. MM empowers individuals to accept personal
responsibility for choosing and maintaining their own path, whether moderation
or abstinence. MM promotes early self-recognition of risky drinking behavior,
when moderate drinking is a more easily achievable goal.
What does MM offer?
A supportive mutual-help environment that encourages people who are concerned
about their drinking to take action to cut back or quit drinking before drinking
problems become severe.
A nine-step professionally reviewed program, which provides information
about alcohol, moderate drinking guidelines and limits, drink monitoring
exercises, goal setting techniques, and self-management strategies.
As a major part of the program, members also use the nine steps to find
balance and moderation in many other areas of their lives, one small step
at a time.
What does MM cost?
MM meetings are free of charge. Small donations made by individual members
and MM groups are used to support community and national programs.
What are the basic premises of MM?
Behaviors can be changed. MM agrees with many professionals and researchers
in the field that alcohol abuse, versus dependence, is a learned behavior
(habit) for problem drinkers, and not a disease. This approach recognizes
that people who drink too much can suffer from varying degrees of alcohol-related
problems, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. A reasonable early option
for problem drinkers is moderation. Seriously dependent drinkers will probably
find a return to moderate drinking a great challenge, but the choice to accept
that challenge remains theirs.
Moderation is a reasonable, practical, and attainable recovery goal for
many problem drinkers. Outcome studies indicate that brief intervention programs
are successful and cost effective.
The Values that guide MM:
Members take personal responsibility for their own recovery from a
People helping people is the strength of the organization.
People who help others to recover also help themselves.
Self-esteem and self-management are essential to recovery.
Members treat each other with respect and dignity.
Assumptions of MM:
Problem drinkers should be offered a choice of behavioral change goals.
Harmful drinking habits should be addressed at a very early stage,
before problems become severe.
Problem drinkers can make informed choices about moderation or abstinence
goals based upon educational information and the experiences shared at self-help
Harm reduction is a worthwhile goal, especially when the total elimination
of harm or risk is not a realistic option.
People should not be forced to change in ways they do not choose willingly.
Moderation is a natural part of the process from harmful drinking,
whether moderation or abstinence becomes the final goal. Most individuals
who are able to maintain total abstinence first attempted to reduce their
drinking, unsuccessfully. Moderation programs shorten the process of "discovering"
if moderation is a workable solution by providing concrete guidelines about
the limits of moderate alcohol consumption.
Is MM for every person with a drinking problem?
No. Research suggests that no one solution is best for all people with drinking
problems. There are many possible solutions available to each individual,
and MM suggests the each person finds the solution that is best for him or
MM is good place to begin to address a drinking problem. If MM proves to
be an ineffective solution, the individual is encouraged to progress to a
more radical solution.
Is moderation a reasonable option for you?
This is your decision. To be successful at moderation or abstinence requires
effort and a commitment to change. You should take into account the severity
of your drinking problem, your personal preference, and any medical, psychological,
or other conditions that would be made worse by drinking, even in moderation.
If you are unsure, seek professional advice. MM does not provide professional
assessment or treatment.
What if moderation does not work for you?
After completing 30 days of abstinence (step two of the MM program) and
then starting the moderation part of the program, you may discover that it
is more difficult for you to moderate your drinking than to abstain. In this
case, consider a self-management goal of abstinence. Some members of MM who
choose abstinence remain in our program; others find an abstinence-only group
Interested in becoming a Sponsor of Moderation Management? Click Here.