Moderation Is The Gateway To Sobriety


Moderating Alcohol Intake Often Leads To Total Sobriety

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly two-thirds of the adult US population drinks on a monthly basis. However, only 7% report heavy alcohol use, which defined as binge drinking on 5 or more days in a month. Most people drink, but they drink in moderation.

I believe conscious or planned moderation is the gateway to sobriety for three reasons. First, if you’ve concluded that you must moderate in the first place, drinking is causing you pain that you probably already know would best be eliminated with abstinence, whether you’re ready to admit that or not.  Second, moderation is much more difficult than abstinence. Finally, over time it becomes more apparent that the benefits of time off alcohol far outweigh those of drinking. Eventually, you’ll get tired and quit.

I want to make it clear that my position is pro-moderation. I have no desire for alcohol to be banned from society or anything like that, nor am I on a mission to convince anybody that they should give up alcohol if they truly enjoy it. Not everybody will agree with me and that’s perfectly fine!

This is just my opinion based on what I’ve researched, seen, and experienced first-hand and I want to share my views.

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The Decision To Moderate Comes With Pain That Would Best Be Eliminated Through Quitting

time to stop drinking

By the time you’ve decided that you need a plan to moderate, you probably know you need to stop. Click To TweetThis may sound bad, but it’s not. Hear me out.

Most people who drink think it’s relaxing, fun, pleasant, etc… The same can be said about other things too. Like ice cream.

While alcohol is an addictive substance and ice cream is not, some people can treat them the same.

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Some people can take alcohol or leave it, just like ice cream. They really have “one glass of wine with dinner”, put the bottle away and it can sit there for days on end. They can have an ice cream cone occasionally. Maybe they buy a canister for the freezer, take out a serving, and leave the rest for later.

These folks don’t think about it. They don’t plan how much ice cream they can have and when. That’s just the way it is.

Maybe these same people enjoy ice cream, but every blue moon they overeat. Maybe these same people drink a little too much wine every once and again, too. But these aren’t repeating patterns that warrant introspection to the degree that they need a plan to stop eating ice cream or drinking wine.

For them, though alcohol is an addictive substance, it doesn’t trigger anything too troubling and they are worry-free.

I think the need to focus on moderation as a strategy is a sign that you shouldn’t drink because it has already triggered something inside of you that says so. Alcohol is so tricky, and I completely understand not wanting to quit forever.

It’s so final. It’s overwhelming. And it doesn’t feel that deep.

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But in the beginning, if you first come to the table with the idea of cutting back because it’s causing you pain, confusion, conflict, and drama, you probably already know deep inside that you would be better off if you didn’t drink at all. Whether you want to admit it or not.


Moderation Is Harder Than Sobriety

woman with headache, migraine, stress, insomnia, hangover

As someone who has chosen sobriety after having some success with moderation, I feel moderation is way harder. Your mileage may vary, but I believe this is typical.

As I’ve shared before, my decision to quit drinking came during a time of successful moderation. My mind was doing all sorts of flips and turns because I was obsessing over how much would be enough. When I could have my next drink. Whether I should just drink more this one time. It was just exhausting.

Additionally, no matter how much successful moderation time I had, it always eventually ended in relapse. Every time it was devastating.

Here are a few of the negotiations I made with myself over the years to illustrate how crazy-making it was:

  1. One drink per hour, using an alarm to let me know when I could drink again. This was based on the reasoning that alcohol metabolizes at about a unit per hour.
  2. Drinking at least 8 ounces of water with every drink.
  3. Only drinking on weekends
  4. Only drinking after 6 pm
  5. Drinking only certain types of alcohol. For example, only wine. Or only white liquor (because this was less damaging than dark liquor with congeners)
  6. Drinking socially, never home alone (yeah right)
  7. Making sure I only drank after eating a huge meal
  8. Never drinking two days in a row

And on and on…

I had tracking apps on my phone. Took way too many “are you an alcoholic” quizzes.

All that, only to eventually wind up with my head in the toilet anyhow.

In sobriety, instead of several thoughts, I just have one.

I don’t drink.

Simple as that.


There Are More Benefits To Sobriety Than There Are To Drinking

sobriety milestone celebration

At first, it can be hard to let go of the benefits of alcohol. I get it. It does help you relax, bond with others, give you more confidence on the dance floor, lower inhibitions, make you feel sexy, etc… But what you come to realize with more sober time under your belt is that you can learn to feel all those things – and more – anyway.

It takes more effort initially, but once you achieve even some of these results without liquor, you kind of don’t want to let it go.

I mean when you really learn to relax without alcohol or have fun the sober way, you don’t have any ill consequences, ever. And over time you start to ask “why”?

Like, why continue to do this thing that takes so much work and costs so much in time, money and emotion, when you can achieve better results without it?

It eventually becomes pointless if given enough time.


Could Moderation Be YOUR Gateway To Sobriety?

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In conclusion, I think moderation is a great tool because it helps us improve. Even if sobriety isn’t your end goal and you never do quit completely, choosing to moderate is absolutely wonderful.

Taking control over your drinking is super responsible of you and will yield so many outstanding benefits.

But as someone who has ultimately chosen sobriety, I can confidently say moderation is indeed a gateway. Should you choose to open that door, I think you’ll enjoy what you experience on the other side.



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