Abstinence, Moderation, Harm Reduction – Like Alcohol Abuse, It’s Your Choice!

Responsible treatment means offering you a variety of options and allowing you to choose what outcome best suits you. That’s exactly what physicians are supposed to do. But any doctor who insisted that a “cure” created in 1935, with a success rate of under 10%, and not up-dated since, was the only option you should be offered would be sued into oblivion for willful malpractice.

Yet that’s exactly the route 90%+ of all “rehabs” take.’

Not only do these “programs” mandate abstinence as the only acceptable outcome, but they dictate the 12 Steps of AA as the only available route! And for this they will charge you anywhere from $30,000 to $200,000.

Really? You’re going to pay that to attend AA meetings that you can go to at home for free?

Let’s get real here. If you are among the 5-10% of alcohol abusers for whom AA might be a workable solution, then you don’t have to pay anything to find out. Just go to a half dozen different meetings (AA meetings themselves vary wildly) and you will know. No payment necessary.

If you’re among the rest of us, those for whom AA has nothing to offer, then, happily, there are options, not only as to methods, but also regarding outcomes.

That’s right. There are a lot of different ways to get sober, return to moderate drinking, or to at least do yourself less harm.

As we have noted in our review of the research, Ending Alcohol Abuse: What Works, there are a dozen “tools” that, either singly or in combination, work far better than AA.

There are also the motivation issues which work for you when you are pursuing an end you have selected, not one artificially mandated by someone else. Especially when that “outcome” has no validity in the real world.

In review, abstinence is, for many, either an excellent long term goal or a short term option leading to moderation. Moderation is achievable for many, but not all, and it’s good to sort out your possibilities in that regard. Harm reduction is available to anyone as a route towards either moderation or abstinence.

Responsible treatment providers will ask you what you want to achieve, your preferred methods, and inform you as to what the available research shows and what supports there are. They will also, as we noted in last week’s Newsletter, help to deprogram you from the pervasive 12 Step brainwashing we have all been inundated with over the past five decades.

How You Talk To & About Yourself Really Does Matter!

Do you want to be an alcoholic? If you do, then by all means, join AA. There is no quicker way to achieve that goal.


Consider: If you stand up several times a week in front of a supportive audience and announce, “Hi, I’m —- and I’m an alcoholic,” what do you think you will become?

That’s no different than being a gymnast who “prepares” for her turn at the balance beam by reciting, “I’m going to fall, I’m going to fall, I’m going to fall!” How do you suppose that’s going to turn out?

Ending you alcohol abuse is a process with many components, both large and small. Attending to each of them increases the likelihood of you achieving whatever outcome you want.

For example:

  • Anxious and depressed? CBT, exercise and not drinking will help.
  • In unbalanced family relationships? Assertiveness training can adjust that.
  • Trouble maintaining motivation? There are ways to enhance that.
  • Problems with aging? Paying attention to diet and exercise can slow the process.
  • Disinclined to label yourself a “powerless alcoholic?” This is where “just say no” to demeaning yourself does work.

There are a lot of options for almost any condition you are medicating and as many ways to resolve the problem once you are aware of them. Don’t sell yourself short – or let anyone else do it to you.

Your life. Your options. Your choices.


And as an add on to this week’s theme, on August 30, Mary Ellen and I were invited to a screening of “The Business of Recovery”, a new award winning film that exposes the 12 Step “rehab” industry in the words of, and in interviews with, its executives, directors and other staff.

Additionally, the film includes interviews with a number of the prominent professionals in the research based, Non 12 Step, treatment field. No, we were not interviewed and this is not about self-promotion. It’s about providing you with accurate information upon which to make you own decisions based on what is apt to be worth your time, effort, emotion, and, certainly, money.

We suggest you follow the above link for more information, reviews, and screenings near you, and/or how to host a screening.

Remember, AA based rehab is a $32 billion dollar a year “industry” – one that sells hope to desperate people while delivering nothing that isn’t available to you for free. All while executives pay themselves, out of “non-profit” funds, salaries of up to $750,000 annually. All this while delivering a 75 year old program with a “success” rate of less than 10% while promising far more.

It is the most successful con game of the past 50 years and it continues, unregulated, unaccountable, and, for clients, unsuccessful by design.

Protect yourself and those you care about. We know it’s hard to make good decisions when you are in a crisis, but don’t let them manipulate you into making bad – and very expensive – ones.