At Serenity Acres, we understand that alcoholism is a disease that plagues millions of Americans across the United States. Alcoholism is a chronic disease that results in the inability to control one’s intake of alcohol. While in recovery an alcoholic might ask if he/she can drink again in moderation. The simple answer to this question is, drinking even in moderation can be detrimental to the recovery process. However, each case is different, and the results depend on the person.
The Temptation of Drinking
It is easy to feel the temptation to drink. Maybe you are at your work Christmas party, there’s an open bar, and everyone around you has a glass of red wine in hand, and for just a moment you wonder if just one glass is okay. As someone who has struggled with alcohol dependency, the risk could be much greater than the reward. That one glass could turn into two, three, and so on. If you know you will be tempted to drink alcohol in a social setting, it is best to avoid those situations until you are comfortable in your sobriety. Each recovering alcoholic’s temptation will be different.
Drinking in Moderation Can be a Gamble
Many alcoholics have tried drinking in moderation. This can be a gamble as alcoholism is a serious addiction and can cause a relapse. Those who are successful at moderate drinking typically are called “problem drinkers or social drinkers” meaning they attempt to drink their problems away, or only drink when in social settings. Whereas when a true alcoholic tries to drink in moderation, it is hard for them to have just a couple of drinks, for any sustainable amount of time.
This ties into one of the first signs of alcoholism. When someone begins drinking they are not able to stop and they become out-of-control. They also cannot set a limit for themselves. For example, when someone goes to dinner with intentions of having just one drink, but that drink turns into many more. Often when a recovering alcoholic believes they can partake in “normal drinking”, they find it quickly turns back into heavy drinking. This leads to a relapse and alcoholics will have to restart the recovery process all over again.
Once a Pickle
Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying “once a pickle, never again a cucumber,” meaning that once you are an alcoholic, you will always be an alcoholic. Recovery is a life-long process. Alcoholism is an illness that has many signs, the final stage being alcoholism. Once it reaches the point of alcoholism and a person suffers from alcohol dependence, AA believes there is no coming back, hence the once a pickle adage. Alcoholics drinking habits are unpredictable, often even to the alcoholic themselves.
AA states many times throughout its materials, that an alcoholic is incapable of drinking in moderation. However, research has shown that some alcoholics can, and some cannot. Some alcoholics might be able to have a glass of wine and be fine, while with others, one might cause them to spiral out of control. Some alcoholics try to believe they have control of their drinking problem.
Do Alcoholics Drink in Moderation?
Federal research has shown in the past that 17.7% of alcoholics at the time were able to drink in moderation. While 25.5% of alcoholics were still dependent on the consumption of alcohol. Based off of this research the better question could be “what is the difference between an alcoholic who can drink in moderation, versus someone who cannot?” The safest bet is if an alcoholic has been abstaining from drinking, they should likely steer clear of any alcohol consumption.
A decision to drink moderately can also be taken by the type of reaction one has when they quit drinking. Did they go through withdrawal symptoms? According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA), about 9% of alcoholics are considered chronic, meaning they went through withdrawals, and it is recommended for them to abstain from alcohol consumption completely. There are also Moderation Management programs that outline a single person cannot have more than four drinks in one sitting (these drinks typically cannot have an alcohol content of over 7%), and they cannot exceed 14 drinks in a week. Moderation Management is a form of treatment some alcoholics seek like Alcoholics Anonymous. This type of program could be beneficial to someone who is not solely alcohol dependent.
If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, Serenity Acres has admission coordinators who are readily available to speak with you. Whether you have already attended treatment and feel yourself backsliding, or if you are ready to seek help, we are here for you. Feel free to contact us today with your alcoholism treatment options.