Last week a reader wrote to ask about our stance on moderation.

Our stance is that we don’t dictate what people can, can’t, or must do. We agree with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) research that the misuse of alcohol occurs across a broad spectrum and that an array of outcomes should be considered using research based approaches.

We will give you an honest assessment of the possibilities based on your history and your willingness to work toward whatever your preferred outcomes are.

That said, our moderation clients tend towards one of three results: 1/3 achieve a reduction in their drinking to whatever level they have chosen; 1/3 have decided it’s easier to abstain and have achieved this; 1/3 continue to muddle along, unable to commit to the necessary effort it takes to either moderate or abstain.

Frankly, for most of us, abstaining is easier, at least for the foreseeable future.


Mostly because it allows us to replace drinking with new behavior habits entirely while also addressing the underlying causes of our drinking. Moderating tends to keep us engaging in the same old behavior patterns while hoping for different outcomes. We all know how well that works.

Still, as the 2003 NIAAA study shows, a lot of people who would usually be classified as “alcoholics” manage to revert to moderate drinking habits as well as abstaining. This has alarmed the treatment industry and AA but doesn’t change the fact that there are a variety of successful outcomes for people willing to make the effort.

Of course, as with any change, the key word is “effort”.  Most treatment programs prefer to downplay this fact and like to market the “magic”, but there are no magic fixes – not the magic of the palms, beach, mountains, vortex, or winds.

That doesn’t mean that change is awful either. Just that it means paying attention, trying new things, maintaining motivation, and keeping track of what works and what doesn’t.

That’s the system for achieving real change and it’s what we help you design, adjust, and accomplish.

So whether it’s abstaining or moderating, the goal is a better life for you and those you care about. Exactly what that looks like is up to you. Coaching you in how to achieve it is our part.

You can read more at Non 12 Step Moderation.

Cherry Picking?

From time to time we hear complaints from other programs that our clients’ are successful because we “cherry pick” you…

We actually agree with that to the extent that we work with, and appeal to, those of you who are smart, competent, generally successful, individuals.

No, we don’t accept “powerless alcoholics” who will do anything to avoid assuming responsibility for their drinking or for fixing it.

And we stick to alcohol abuse, not every “addiction” currently in vogue.

It seems to us that it makes sense to work with people who want to fix the problem rather than those who don’t, and to stick with a problem that’s well understood and researched.

But we aren’t peddling “steps” or magic or other things that don’t work, and we aren’t “True Believers” who can’t deviate from the “one true path.”

Consequently we’re free to work with you as the individual you are, free to assemble a customized mosaic of the things that actually work (Again, see: Ending Alcohol Abuse: What Works).

Additionally, we are confidential, happy to include spouses at your discretion, assume you are an adult, and offer you our undivided attention. We also continue to work with you through 3 months of follow-up where the problem gets resolved, as it must, in your day-to-day life.

Consequently, if the fact that we work with you, a smart, engaged, interested, and interesting individual, means we’re cherry picking, well then, we plead guilty as charged.