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Practical Recovery, located in San Diego, is happy to discuss moderation as an option for you. We offer outpatient services and alternatives to residential treatment. All of our services are customized to your individual needs.
Unlike the vast majority of addiction treatment providers, at Practical Recovery you can decide to moderate without judgment or ridicule. Practical Recovery recognizes that scientific evidence to date suggests moderation as a viable outcome in the treatment of problematic addictive behavior, and that ultimately about half of those who recover do so with moderation as the outcome. We generally suggest that moderation efforts begin with 30 days of abstinence, a time period that might be more easily accomplished with the support of our services.
Questions to Consider About Moderation
In working out a moderation plan with Practical Recovery there are a number of questions that may be considered. Considering your personal level of motivation for abstinence vs. moderation is a good place to start. You are likely to experience more success in efforts towards a goal that you are highly motivated to achieve. Of course, the risk of moderation becoming excess exists, and sometimes after a few attempts at moderation some people opt for a period of abstinence.
Generally, moderation can be considered a level of involvement with an addictive behavior that has no significant costs. People sometimes mistake cutting back to a less harmful level of involvement as moderation (e.g. “I used to drink a fifth a day, now I only drink about 10 beers”). Both harm-reduction and moderation approaches are valuable approaches to change, and it is important to distinguish between the two.
Circumstances Are Key To Successful Moderation
When considering moderation it is also important to consider current circumstances. At Practical Recovery we make the bold assertion that anyone can moderate any addiction, given the right circumstances. Practically speaking, however, achieving the right circumstances for successful moderation may not be realistic or worth the effort. Most people would moderate successfully with a gun to their head, but creating such circumstances is far too extreme to be worth it! Under more normal circumstances there is often some “wiggle room” about the consequences of excessive use, and it can be easy to convince oneself, “I can get away with it this time.”
Moderation May Require More Effort Than Abstinence
When considering moderation it is important to take into account the level of effort required to do so successfully. In many ways total abstinence is simpler than moderation – you don’t have to think about when to use, how much to use, who to use with, what to use and what not to use, how often you want to go without using before you use again, what you want to do if you end up using more than you intended, etc. Also, cravings generally occur in proportion to the level of involvement in an addictive behavior. Thus, in efforts to moderate cravings may end up being more intense and difficult to manage than during efforts to abstain.
A parallel is fasting. Anyone who ever fasted can attest that it is easier to fast all day if you skip breakfast than if you eat breakfast. If you want to fast all day and you eat breakfast you get your appetite and metabolism going, which results in stronger hunger pangs (cravings) throughout the day than if you skipped breakfast altogether.
Consider Past Success and Potential Costs of Moderation
If you succeeded in moderation attempts in the past you are more likely to succeed moving forward. Addictive behaviors that bring a history of minimal moderation success might not be worth the effort it would take to successfully moderate moving forward. Considering how serious the costs of a future slip might be is also important. If the potential damage of a misstep in moderation efforts is unlikely to result in much more than an unproductive day off on the couch, that is much different than if a marriage or occupation is on the line.
Experience with Moderation
We all moderate some behaviors that could be problematic if done to excess. There are empirically supported methods to help people increase the likelihood of successful moderation of problematic addictive behavior. Moderation is nothing new to us at Practical Recovery, we’ve been helping people who choose to moderate for over 30 years. If you’re considering moderation and would like to discuss options with a reputable, experienced provider give us a call at 800-977-6110.
Practical Recovery is the leader in collaborative addiction treatment.
Wondering whether moderation is right for you? Check out Dr. Horvath’s, “To Moderate or Abstain: That is the Question!”
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