Man visibly stressed out - Moderation

For addicts who have not yet come to terms with their own disease or for people who are misinformed on substance abuse, they may assume that moderation is possible when it comes to drugs and alcohol. This, for obvious reasons, is like playing with fire. It’s not something that can be considered harmonious if you have an issue with addiction. As a provider of addiction treatment for drugs and alcohol in New Jersey, North Jersey Recovery Center is committed to dispelling the long held myth of moderation. Safety is crucial in protecting the livelihood and well-being of all our patients. Here is why addicts never respect moderation.

The Dangers Of Advocating For Moderation

Any attempt made for moderation from current and former addicts will result in a crash-and-burn kind of scenario. This is because of the process known as “priming”. Priming denotes the initial consumption of certain substances that stimulate the motivation to continue using them, even to degrees of excess. Research has proven that priming is evident with substances like alcohol and for addicts it means they could likely have a hard time controlling their strong desire to curb drinking or using drugs.

In fact, a movement on the subject from the 1990s, known as “moderation management” was founded on the principle that drinkers could have an alternative to AA in which they would learn to effectively moderate or manage their drinking habits. People in this program would not have to remain abstinent, but would learn to control the amount of alcohol consumed. Fast forward years later, the founder of the program Audrey Kishline announced that her own drinking problems were too severe to moderate, and she would need to be admitted into an abstinence program. Tragically, her bouts of heavy drinking led to her being involved in a DUI accident in which two fatalities occurred. The controversy surrounding the group, and its founder’s inability to manage her own issues with moderation, only highlight the necessity for addiction treatment for drugs and alcohol in New Jersey.

Comparing Moderation In Abstinence and Drugs

Abstinence is a concept in addiction recovery that denotes avoidance of all substances. There is no gray area here. On the other end of the spectrum is moderation. Moderation requires self-discipline and control, and theoretically, you can practice moderation in drugs or drinking, meaning that you are imposing limitations on yourself. Moderation Management or MM, as mentioned above, advocates moderation. Think of it as an alternative to the 12-step program. It can work for many, but not everyone.

How About Using A Substance To Treat An Addiction?

Sometimes, in addiction recovery, one substance from structured protocols like MAT, can be used to treat another substance addiction.

  • Opioid addiction, as an example, usually relies on the use of prescription medications that are highly approved for treating opioid use disorder (E.g., methadone, naloxone, buprenorphine, etc), which eases the dependence of opioid addiction.
  • For alcohol, someone could use naltrexone or disulfiram to manage the withdrawal symptoms.
  • Nicotine addiction relies on drugs like bupropion that can help with cravings 

What these medications will do is help reduce cravings and restore normal brain function. Some medication-assisted treatments also block the effects of substances on the brain and body. This area of addiction treatment can be controversial, the idea is somewhat in line with harm reduction principles. The ultimate goal of MAT is to help the person get off the substances, with the understanding that this process is gradual. 

Are There Benefits To Moderation?

Some individuals believe there are genuine benefits to the moderation approach. It can be intimidating and overwhelming to stop drinking or using drugs, suddenly. It might make quitting seem more feasible. When referencing the concept of harm reduction, any step a person can take to lower the risks and harms associated with substance use, is undeniably, positive.

Addiction Management-A Slippery Slope

In theory, this concept could work out fine for people who do not truly have an issue with abuse and have not experienced many of the signs and symptoms, affiliated with addiction. Anyone that drinks a little too much on the weekends and wants to cut back, then moderation could be a good tactic to employ. Conversely, anyone with a known disease of addiction, moderation is not going to be a very effective way of addressing the problems. Recovering addicts know from experience, cravings become a major part of their life and fighting the cravings is part of their main focus in curbing the habit. If the craving happens, and they choose to have just “one drink”, it will not get rid of the craving, but will serve to increase the cravings, causing the person to be void of rational thinking. Becoming a little erratic is not an option here. Moderation is a slippery slope that has the potential to reemerge as a strong addiction. 

Addiction Treatment For Drugs and Alcohol In New Jersey: Moderation Or Abstinence?

Being able to understand the dichotomy between moderation and abstinence is imperative for your lifelong journey of recovery. If you are someone who has had a history of not respecting moderation, then moderation principles will probably not apply to you. If you or a loved one are seeking solace in this behemoth that is addiction, contact North Jersey Recovery Center today, to better understand the impact of addiction treatment for drugs and alcohol in New Jersey. We have cultivated an environment that is both safe and productive, for supporting you in your pursuit of sobriety.