Twelve-step programs have historically led the way in defining alcohol addiction treatment and recovery and have identified abstinence as the best possible way to regain control over one’s life after addiction. Only recently has more research investigated different avenues of treatment for those who are hoping to stop the negative effects of drug and alcohol use in their lives. Though it has always been assumed that complete abstinence was a necessary goal for all individuals who had a problem with alcohol, recent research has suggested that learning moderation may be an effective form of recovery for some alcohol abusers. Though it is certainly not right for those who have problems with compulsive drinking, is moderation an option for others who struggle with alcohol?
Is the New Spectrum Definition of Addiction Going to Change Approaches to Recovery?
Due to the changing definitions of addiction in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), the concepts of alcohol abuse, dependence and addiction are now being viewed on a spectrum. In the past, one either was an alcoholic or wasn’t. With such a black-and-white definition, there was only room for a one-size-fits-all model of treatment, and for that reason, complete and total abstinence from alcohol and other drugs defined successful recovery.
The spectrum concept is changing attitudes because it recognizes that some people abuse alcohol for a short period of their life due to excessive stress and poor coping skills, but the impact is short-lived. As they either mature in their abilities to deal with uncomfortable emotions and/or the especially rough period in their life passes, they slowly use alcohol less and less. These are individuals who should recognize the unhealthy way in which they managed their feelings and know that they have the potential for alcohol abuse when their emotions remain unchecked. However, an occasional glass of beer or wine will not send these individuals into an alcohol-induced tailspin.
On the other hand, others quickly find that the only way they can live a balanced life is by completely giving up alcohol for the rest of their lives. After a detailed history of their problem is assessed by a healthcare provider, a determination where someone falls in this spectrum can be made.
The Opinion of Drug and Alcohol Counselors Is Changing Radically
A new survey conducted by the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Counselors analyzed the responses from 913 of its own members in the US. Over the last 15 years, there has been a huge shift in the counselors’ opinions on alcohol abstinence. In 1994, roughly one-quarter of members believed that for certain clients an end goal of moderate drinking was completely appropriate. Today, that number has doubled and approximately half of the respondents felt that abstinence wasn’t a necessary objective for all clients. Interestingly, a decade ago, an equal number of counselors believed that abstinence was necessary for drug addicts as do today, so this shift has occurred only in reference to alcohol issues.
If Moderation Isn’t Right for You
Most addicts attempt some form of moderation – often many forms – before they finally turn to alcohol rehab. If addiction is an issue for you and you are unable to stop alone, we’re here to help. Call now to find an alcohol rehab center that can give you the tools you need to stop drinking today.