Moderation Management, also referred to as ‘MM’, is a program designed for people who have alcohol use disorder. Similar to the popular program Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), MM uses community and peer leadership to help people overcome alcohol addiction.
What sets Moderation Management apart is the fact that the program does not require that you abstain from drinking. Instead, it supports you to change your drinking habits so that you are able to drink responsibly.
This method is based on plenty of evidence and research. While AA works for some people, Moderation Management seeks to take advantage of the fact that 70% of people who have alcohol use disorders quit or cut back to safe levels within 4 years.
Unlike AA, MM aims to help people with drinking problems change their behavior until it is safe, whether or not that means becoming abstinent.
This is what you should know about Moderation Management:
What are the Values of MM?
MM has a set of core values, as well as a set of assumptions under which it operates. They are outlined as follows:
- Each member takes responsibility for their recovery.
- Helping other people is the core of MM.
- Helping other people means helping yourself.
- You must have self-esteem and self-management skills to recover
- All members must treat each other respectfully.
The Moderation Management Steps of Change
MM takes a unique approach to helping people with alcohol addiction. Instead of trying to get people to completely ditch alcohol with one big effort, the program breaks down the process of managing drinking into 7 steps.
By tackling the large task of changing your drinking habits step-by-step, you gain confidence and momentum along the way. Each step builds on the previous one, so that by the end you are ready to manage your drinking habits safely.
Moderation Management encourages people to customize the steps to suit their needs and situation. You don’t necessarily need to do each step in order.
The 7 steps of MM are:
- Start by keeping a diary. In your diary, you will record what you drink, where, how much, etc. This will give you an objective understanding of your drinking habits. This is key, because many people with drinking problems are not completely honest with themselves about their habits.
- Next, do some research on moderation. MM has many resources available so you can get a clear picture of what safe drinking looks like. Examples of guidelines include safe numbers of drinks to consume per week or in a setting.
- Once you understand what moderate drinking means, it’s time to score your drinking severity with a self-test. With this information, you can decide if moderation or abstinence is right for you.
- Next, you’ll make a list of problems that drinking has brought into your life. You will also make a separate list of the ways that you expect moderation can help you.
- Abstain from alcohol for 30 days or more. A period of abstinence gives you space from your drinking patterns and helps you gain clarity.
- Learn to drink responsibly. After your abstinence period, you can start drinking moderately again. You will continue to record drinking in your journal, and make sure to adhere to your own healthy limits which you have set.
- The seventh step is more of a suggestion. It advises you to use your mistakes and slip-ups to your advantage. By addressing what went wrong, you can learn about your unique needs when it comes to moderating your drinking.
What to Expect in MM
Similar to AA, Moderation Management is an outpatient support program. This means that you can continue to go about your daily life, but you will attend meetings regularly. It is recommended that you go to MM meetings on a weekly basis, at a minimum.
At meetings, you will share with others about your experience with alcohol and learn from peers and leaders about how you can control your drinking. MM meetings are free, but donations are welcome.
Skills you might learn in MM meetings include things such as:
- Diluting your drinks to make them less strong and slow you down.
- Avoiding ‘triggers’, or situations that usually lead to you drinking too much.
- Counting your drinks and recording how much you are drinking, so you can stop at a safe limit.
- Eating appropriately to avoid getting too tipsy.
You will use meetings to get ideas from other members, and to honestly share about your drinking so that you can be held accountable for your own actions. In between meetings, you will put into practice what you have learned – working to moderate your drinking.
Is MM Right for Everyone?
No. Although Moderation Management is a research-backed method for helping people with alcohol addiction, it is not right for everyone. Some people will benefit more from a strict abstinence approach.
It is very important to find a program that helps you, as everyone drinks for different reasons and has different treatment needs.
Some people may find that moderating their drinking is more difficult for them than abstaining completely. After your 30 days without alcohol, if you try to reintroduce drinking and are unable to control yourself, you may choose to abstain completely.
This does not necessarily mean you need to leave MM. Many members of MM continue to attend meetings and stick with the program, even if they are abstaining. Others look for another program, such as AA, which strictly practices abstinence.
Get Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Programs such as MM can be very helpful for people with alcohol use disorder. However, it is always recommended to take part in formal treatment for alcohol addiction.
Rehab programs, both inpatient and outpatient, can help you to clear your head and gain control over your alcohol addiction. If you need help with your drinking, call your local treatment center today to learn more about treatment options.
Remember, alcohol poisoning can be fatal, and drinking can lead to dangerous behavior. Now is the time to get your problem under control.
- Guide to Moderation Management Steps of Change. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.moderation.org/library/Guide%20to%20Moderation%20Management%20Steps%20of%20Change.pdf
- Intervention Summary – ModerateDrinking.com and Moderation Management. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://legacy.nreppadmin.net/ViewIntervention.aspx?id=212
- United States Changes Its Mind on Addiction – It’s Not a Chronic Brain Disease After All. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/addiction-in-society/200911/united-states-changes-its-mind-addiction-its-not-chronic-brain
- What is Moderation Management? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.moderation.org/about_mm/whatismm.html#whatismm