Have you ever heard of moderation management? A lot of people have only ever heard of the alcoholics anonymous 12 step program, which operates on the principle of 100% abstinence only. This works for a lot of people, but that does not mean that it works for everyone or that it is the only way to help yourself when you realize that your drinking has become a problem. I am not necessarily in favor of moderation management, as it is not how I have chosen to deal with my problematic drinking, but I do think it is important for people to know that there are other options than AA meetings/12 step program and 100% abstinence.
Moderation management was created as an alternative to alcoholics anonymous, with the hope that people could recognize that their drinking is a problem and they could get the help they need, without having to be labeled an alcoholic and without having to fully abstain from drinking. Just as there are in Alcoholics Anonymous, there are certain steps and guidelines that people follow when they engage in moderation management. These steps, however, are more of a suggestion than a requirement like they are in AA meetings. The goal is to reduce the amount of alcohol a person drinks, but also make positive lifestyle changes in general.
I sometimes think about whether this could ever work for me, and as of now, I have always come to the same conclusion: I cannot drink if I want to have a productive life. Period. Maybe one day that will be different, I don’t know. But I know that for now, abstaining completely from all alcohol and drugs is what works for me.
That being said, AA isn’t really for me either. In the beginning, it is definitely what kept me sober for at least the first 18 months. I went to meetings and met other people I could talk to and relate to, and it gave me something to do with my time because once I got sober, I didn’t really know what to do. I was so used to drinking and hanging out with people that drink, that AA meetings were a sort of sanctuary for me. After trying to get a sponsor and go through the steps, it just wasn’t working for me. If I didn’t go to enough meetings, I felt bad. If I didn’t get through the steps, I felt bad. If I didn’t have a sponsor, I felt bad. It was more of a hassle for me than a help, and I realized that I didn’t want to keep going to meetings just because I felt like I was supposed to. That also doesn’t work for everyone – some people need AA and feel like that’s the only way for them to get sober and stay sober, which is totally fine. Whatever works, works.
Moderation management isn’t for me (controlled drinking is
not something I have ever really been able to achieve), and neither is AA. So
now what? At the moment, and for the past few years, I have just done what has
felt right to me. I have been in school,
spent time with friends and family, exercised, started playing soccer again,
and have just tried to do things that make me happy instead of doing things
just because I feel like I am supposed to be doing them. For me, that works. Maybe not always, but for now I am happy with the way things are in my life.