Abstinence Vs Moderation



At Reset My Future, we firmly believe in looking at every single person uniquely and we create a tailored program and plan that is very specific to your individual situation and circumstances. Some of our clients follow an abstinence path, and some head down the road of moderation.


Now, let us be very clear at this point before we go any further….


Some people simply cannot drink. If you are one of those people, you probably already deep down know it. A path of abstinence will be the answer, and yet this is nothing to be fearful of, a life of freedom from any addiction can be fulfilling and rewarding. For many, learning the answer is “none at all”, can actually be a relief and enable them to get on with life no longer trying to work out how to manage an unmanageable relationship with substances.


So, if you are here because you are looking for the magic pill, then I am afraid we are not selling one. Yet.


But, with over 30 years of experience working with people with substance abuse issues, we have seen a lot of situations and gathered a wealth of knowledge into what makes a moderation plan a possibility.


Alcoholism Vs Alcohol Abuse


There is no blood test you can take which gives you a positive or negative for alcoholism or addiction. It’s determined purely by years of use and experience. Anyone who starts out abusing alcohol or drugs has no idea at that time if it is a temporary situation or something that is going to require ongoing attention.


Unfortunately, we feel that the treatment industry can be far too quick to diagnose alcoholism or addiction. There are too many people abusing substances being unnecessarily forced down a path of complete abstinence, without looking at the individual cases and the “why” behind the abuse.


So, what is the difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse? Addiction and substance abuse? Well, that is also difficult to clearly define, but our opinion is that if you seek professional help which supports you in examining the “why” to your abuse, you work on dealing with those issues, practice alternative life coping mechanisms, and you still find yourself drinking and using more, and more frequently than you plan to, then you are very likely an alcoholic/addict.


If substances continue to negatively impact your life and those around you, despite your best efforts to moderate. You are likely an alcoholic/addict.


You do not need to spend your life experimenting and trying to work this out alone. That can be painful and dangerous, and is very likely not going to end well for you. If you are here, we can assume you are concerned and trying to work out your next steps.


We can help with that, but first let’s explain how we help our clients to uncover the best path for them…


Abstinence or moderation?


First of all, we will never tell you what to do. A path of abstinence or moderation is completely your choice. But, if you ask for it, we will give you our suggestions following a full assessment of your circumstances. Using our many years of experience working with individuals across the scale of substance abuse, these are the reasons for the substance abuse we are interested in learning about…


1. Do you have a compulsive gene?


Many professionals will argue there is no such thing as a gene which predisposes us to addiction.


We believe there is, and if you have it, you will likely agree that it exists because you will have observed your ‘all or nothing’ behaviour in many areas of life. You may wonder why you find it impossible to stop at the one chocolate you promised yourself, or become easily obsessed on an activity you enjoy.



2. Has your substance abuse formed over time through habit?


Have you simply been drinking or using in the same way for a such period of time now that you have become dependent on the routine? For example, you have been opening a bottle of wine while preparing dinner every night for years and it is so engrained in your routine that it now happens daily almost without thinking?



3. Is your drinking or using a coping mechanism for altering your feeling state?


Many people have turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, painful past experiences and unhappy relationships. Many people become so reliant on substances as a solution that they fail to look at other ways to cope with, and manage emotions.



4. Do you have a reward mentality?


Do you feel like in some way you deserve the substance as a reward for achieving in other areas of your life? Or are you using as a form of celebration?



5. Were you brought up in a drinking culture?


Perhaps you saw heavy drug and alcohol use as normal from a young age, or your life environment has supported the idea that everybody is doing the same as you.



6. Do you feel trapped or unfulfilled in life?


People who are not content with where they are in life, or are not feeling positive about their future, are much more likely to abuse substances than those who are. Motivation to change and do something about their situation is also diminished.


By exploring these areas, we are able to provide some recommendations for a path forward...


Strong traits for having a compulsive gene will most certainly mean abstinence is the best option for you. A life surrounded by a drinking culture, can also prove very difficult to un-groove the learned beliefs and behaviours, although not impossible.


All other areas can be explored for the potential of moving towards moderation. All of these motivations for drinking are formed from learned behaviours. With enough work it is possible to address the underlying issues and move away from the substance reliance.


WITH THE EXCEPTION… dependent on how heavy the abuse is, and for how long it has been continuing, abstinence may be our recommendation.


Interested more in this topic? Have a listen to our podcast where our Founder Graeme Alford discusses his opinion.


Looking for some help deciding what is the next right step for you to take? Get in touch. We are always available for a non-obligation chat.