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Is there an alcohol program that teaches moderation rather than abstinence?

answered 01:04 AM EST, Sun April 22, 2012
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anonymous anonymous
I have a drinking problem but I do not want to eliminate alcohol from my life. Professionally this would be problematic for me as I am often called on to wine and dine. I do need to learn how to take control of my drinking so that I don’t end up leaving a business dinner 2 glasses of wine in and then going home to finish 2 bottles more. I am a Christian and I am interested to find an alcohol program that teaches moderation habits or willpower from a Christ based perspective and that is not abstinence based. I am willing to work from a program online or in person (Chicago). Do you know of anything that would meet my needs?

Penny Bell Says...

Penny Bell P. Bell
Master of Counselling, Grad Dip Counselling, Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy, M. College of Clinical Counsellors ACA, M. College of Supervisors ACA, Reg. Supervisor CCAA.

When you say you have a drinking problem I am led to assume that your drinking is interfering with your life, in that it’s causing health problems, or is resulting in job absenteeism or other difficulties at work, or is causing financial hardship, social or relationship conflict or problems with the law (e.g. DWI or DUI).  As well, I would assume you are drinking more than the health guidelines for a healthy male of a limit of 4 standard drinks on any one occasion and no more than 14 over a seven day period (there are however still many problems associated with even moderate drinking, including heart disease, cancers, pancreatitis, liver disease, interactions with medications and of course drink driving).

As you have probably realised, most Christian programs are based on the 12-steps and work toward abstinence.  Whether you are looking for a residential program or an outpatient or group therapy program you will most likely have difficulty finding one that specialises in controlled drinking or moderation, or teaches along those lines.  However there is likely to be therapists in your area who use cognitive behaviour therapy and can help you to learn about controlling urges and identifying thoughts and behaviours which sabotage your efforts to control your drinking.  There are also several online programs which you could find through your search engine.  I cannot recommend any of them as I have no evidence of their efficacy, but if that is the way that will work for you then it may be worth a try.  Bear in mind that most involve financial cost, and that the motivation to continue with the program will be entirely up to you.

Unfortunately the evidence to date is minimal for controlled drinking programs having long-term success, and successes usually depend not so much on the program itself but the gender, marital status and age of the participant.  It also depends on the degree of alcohol addiction present at the beginning of treatment. 

It is important that you are assessed by your doctor before beginning any alcohol reduction or elimination program, as reducing or stopping drinking can cause alcohol withdrawal syndrome, the severity of which depends on factors such as age, genetics, and, most importantly, degree of alcohol intake and length of time you have been using alcohol.  Your doctor will be able to advise you of your likelihood of this occurring, and a management plan for if it does.

Finally, I am wondering if it would be possible for you to consider wining and dining a client but nominating for mineral water yourself?  It may be worthwhile for you to work through this idea, and your feelings about it, with your therapist.

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Page last updated Apr 22, 2012

Penny Bell - Master of Counselling, Grad Dip Counselling, Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy, M. College of Clinical Counsellors ACA, M. College of Supervisors ACA, Reg. Supervisor CCAA.
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