Alcohol Moderation Counseling
Controlled Alcohol Drinking Counseling
Is it possible to drink in moderation?Responsible and controlled drinking is possible for most people who enjoy alcohol. Moderation strategies can help you control your drinking.
Most Americans assume that drinking is an all or nothing activity. You either drink to have fun, or you abstain completely. No one taught you how to drink in moderation in high school, college, or even in your twenties. Is it any wonder why it you struggle with the "how" of moderate drinking today?
Unlike Mediterranean countries where children are taught to drink in moderation at a young age, the United States fosters extremes - you're either an "alcoholic" who overdoes it or a teetotaler.
The bottom line is that most people who struggle with problem drinking are not "alcoholics" who are alcohol-dependent. Overdrinking is the more common problem.
Here are some fast facts:
- 90% of Americans who engage in risky drinking do not meet criteria for alcohol dependence
- 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults can be attributed to excessive drinking
*Citation: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Moderate drinking can be broadly defined as drinking that does not interfere with your personal values. If you value being healthy, productive, and a good friend and family member, then your drinking does not interfere with what is important to you.
Alcohol moderation counseling can help create a life where you wake up free of anxiety, clear-headed, and excited about the day. Free yourself from the cycle of problem drinking. Change starts today.
The government uses conservative guidelines for moderate drinking. You can still drink responsibly outside of these limits.The US Department of Health and Human Services defines moderate drinking as no more than 1 drink per day for women, and no more than 2 drinks per day for men.
"One drink" is understood here as:
- One 12 oz can of beer at 5% strength
- One 5 oz glass of wine at 12% strength
- One 1.5 oz shot of liquor at 40% strength
These conservative recommendations may sound undesirable, or unrealistic for you. Understand that moderation is not just a numbers game. The US Department of Health and Human Services wrote broad, general guidelines in order to reduce the number of negative consequences for people who drink alcohol.
We understand that your definition of moderate drinking may look very different from the US Department of Health and Human Services recommendations. You can create a moderate drinking plan tailored to you. Our counselors can help you get there with strategies that work.
Who is at risk of becoming an "alcoholic"?Our practice does use the term "alcoholics" - we use medical diagnostic criteria to determine whether or not you are dealing with an Alcohol Use Disorder. Even if you drink more than the US Department of Health and Human Services suggests, you might qualify as a "low-risk drinker."
Low-risk drinking is one form of moderation.The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines low-risk drinking as follows:
- For women: no more than 3 drinks per day and no more than 7 drinks per week.
- For men: no more than 4 drinks per day and no more than 14 drinks per week.
According to NIAAA research, only about 2% of low-risk drinkers have an Alcohol Use Disorder. Even within these limits, you can have problems if you drink too quickly or have other health issues.
What if I'm really an alcoholic?Chemically dependent drinking is what society stereotypically means when it refers to "alcoholism." Dependent drinking is characterized by experiencing tolerance and withdrawal.
Alcohol tolerance means that you need to consume more alcohol to get the effect you desire. Signs of alcohol withdrawal include feeling shaky, anxious, nauseous, or depressed after drinking.
People who have a drink in the morning ("hair of the dog") are often drinking to reduce symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Even if you have never had a drink in the morning, you may still be experiencing alcohol withdrawal if you feel sick after stopping drinking.
Binge drinking is much more common than "alcoholic" drinking.You might be surprised by what constitutes binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined by a lower level of consumption than most Americans would guess.
- The NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 - the legal driving limit. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men over the course of 2 hours.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines binge drinking as consuming 5 or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days.
Heavy drinking also hurts your health.SAMHSA defines heavy drinking as consuming 5 or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion for 5 or more days in the past month.
This number is an important guideline. A single bottle of wine equals 5 standard drinks. Drinking one bottle of wine per day makes you vulnerable to infection and sickness (since your immune system gets compromised) as well as mouth cancer, breast cancer, esophageal cancer, and liver failure.
On a superficial level, heavy drinking dehydrates and ages your skin, breaks blood vessels on your face, and leads to a bloated appearance around your cheeks, jowls, and stomach. Over the years, heavy drinking leads to a permanent change in appearance.
The good news? Moderate drinking can prevent this damage. Moderation counseling can lead to permanent and lasting change.
Certain people should avoid alcohol completely.Sometimes, moderate drinking is not a desirable goal. You may want to abstain from alcohol completely if any of the following apply to you:
- You have a serious medical condition that is difficult to manage
- You struggle with severe mental illness, and have been hospitalized for psychiatric issues
- You operate heavy machinery on a regular basis.
- You take medications that have negative effects when you drink
- You are a pregnant woman or are trying to become pregnant
If any of the above apply to you, then you may be a good candidate for
Alcohol Recovery Counseling.
Alcohol Recovery Counseling.
Most drinkers can learn to drink responsibly.We are skilled at helping our clients determine whether or not abstinence from alcohol is for them. It is possible that you may be capable of moderation - especially if you have not implemented drinking strategies. Ask yourself the following:
- Has your only strategy to control your drinking been trying to count your drinks, telling yourself you'll only have "one or two drinks" before drinking, or beating yourself up the morning after a bad drinking episode?
- Do you feel like you are generally in control of your behavior, but every now and then the night gets away from you?
- Are you successful in multiple areas of your life, but drinking seems to be the sticking point?
If you answered "Yes" to the any of the above, then you may be an excellent candidate for moderation strategies. Let's get started - call or text (312) 715-8234.
Counseling Techniques Used for Alcohol ModerationWe are trained in evidence-based approaches to help you find your direction and achieve your desired outcomes.
Our treatment methods include:
Moderation ManagementModeration Management is an evidence-based approach for people with problem drinking behavior. It offers you the ability to choose strategies that work for you in your life. We work with you to set, reach, and maintain drinking reduction goals by providing personalized feedback on self-reported drinking behavior through behavioral self-control skills. Whereas traditional treatment programs focus on problem drinkers being powerless, Moderation Management is an approach that empowers you to make changes that fit with your values.
Motivational Interviewing (MI)MI is an approach that places you front and center as the expert of your own life. Your counselor works with you to strengthen your inner motivation to change. MI allows the counseling session to become a productive space for developing a plan based on your own knowledge and strengths. Your counselor serves as a guide when you feel two ways about making the change, understanding that you are the one who controls what you ultimately do.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)EMDR is an effective, research-based technique to help people resolve and heal from trauma. It is highly effective for people who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is also effective as an approach to help you maintain behavior change when you are facing feelings of distress on a day-to-day basis or anxiety about the future.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)ACT is an evidence-based form of cognitive behavior therapy that strategically helps you create the life you want to live. This happens by removing obstacles that are leaving you feeling stuck in a rut. ACT uses your personal values as the foundation of change.
DBT-InformedDialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a multi-pronged approach involving groups and individual counseling. We offer DBT-informed individual counseling is an evolution of CBT that focuses on reducing the intensity of negative emotions. DBT-informed individual work goes beyond looking at negative thoughts to help you consider effective ways of relating to yourself and others. It helps you achieve feelings of calm and satisfaction.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)MBCT helps you alleviate feelings of depression and unhappiness. The approach of MBCT reduces overwhelming stress while enhancing your self-awareness. By combining mindfulness practice with cognitive therapy, MBCT encourages you to develop a new relationship with negative thoughts and feelings, restoring your energy so you can effectively manage your life.
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)SFBT emphasizes solution building rather than problem-solving. Each session is driven by your goals and vision for the future. Instead of focusing on the negative, SFBT empowers you to mobilize the inner strengths, hidden abilities, and leadership qualities you already possess. SFBT is informed by your present and future, instead of re-hashing the past. Building on your strengths is far more important than spending time talking about your weaknesses.
Addiction and Trauma RecoveryAddiction and Trauma Recovery is a dual approach where your counselor offers respect, transparency, and collaboration as a foundation of healing. Trauma-informed addiction recovery helps you understand the connection between self-destructive behaviors and complex trauma. Your counselor works with you on the goals you determine, empowering you to make healthy changes in your present-day life.
Harm Reduction TherapyHarm Reduction Therapy addresses problem behavior ranging from alcohol and drug use to other values-interfering behaviors. Whether you want to achieve total abstinence or reduce negative consequences of risky behaviors, Harm Reduction Therapy is tailored to meet your desired outcomes.
If you want to break the cycle of problem drinking, contact us now to find out how we can help.