Conventional wisdom has insisted on complete abstinence for people who have drinking problems, but moderation may be better advice. The current issue of the Harvard Mental Health Newsletter reports that it may be best to recommend that men have up to two drinks per day and women, one drink per day. This is certainly a conservative definition of moderation for many drinkers, but an amount unlikely to cause ill health effects. The authors explain that individuals who are alcohol dependent will probably not be able to control the drinking to that extent, and therefore, may realize their alcohol dependence and seek help.
After all, how many people who are dependent on alcohol take advice from anyone to abstain? It’s common that alcoholics who eventually accept treatment, do so because of some type of serious consequence of their drinking. The loss may be of a marriage, a home, a job, relationships with children, prison, serious health problems or something else. No one can say what will convince a particular dependent person to quit drinking, but advice is rarely a motivation. Some people with alcohol dependence never quit for good. Learning for oneself that just a drink or two per day isn’t possible may provide an individual with evidence that he or she needs treatment.
For other drinkers, moderation can prevent the terrible sinkhole that is dependency on alcohol. The progression from excessive drinking to dependence to the ill health and social effects of alcoholism is much more easily understood by someone who drinks too much, yet hasn’t developed a dependency and the denial that accompanies alcoholism. Drinking in moderation is attainable for this group and can save them from that dangerously rocky, downhill road of alcoholism.
© Copyright 2009 by Jolyn Wells-Moran, PhD, MSW. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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