What is Moderation Management?

Moderation Management (MM) is a behavioral change program and national support group network for people concerned about their drinking and who desire to make positive lifestyle changes. MM empowers individuals to accept personal responsibility for choosing and maintaining their own path, whether moderation or abstinence. MM promotes early self-recognition of risky drinking behavior, when moderate drinking is a more easily achievable goal. MM is run by lay members who came to the organization to resolve personal issues and stayed to help others.

MM was the first moderation-based support and help entry on the the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) “Rethinking Drinking” website under Info and Help links:

Moderation Management is recognized as an evidence-based program, on a similar level to other mainstream rehabilitation therapies. We are listed on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) website:

We may be encountering a significant change in the recovery community. To understand better what is happening, please see this article: “Alcoholism Isn’t What It Used To Be”

What does MM offer?

A supportive mutual-help environment that encourages people who are concerned about their drinking to take action to cut back or quit drinking before drinking problems become severe.

A nine-step professionally reviewed program, which provides information about alcohol, moderate drinking guidelines and limits, drink monitoring exercises, goal setting techniques, and self-management strategies.

As a major part of the program, members also use the nine steps to find balance and moderation in many other areas of their lives, one small step at a time.

What does MM cost?

MM meetings are free of charge. Small donations made by individual members and MM groups are used to support community and national programs.

What are the basic premises of MM?

Behaviors can be changed. MM agrees with many professionals and researchers in the field that alcohol abuse, versus dependence, is a learned behavior (habit) for problem drinkers, and not a disease. This approach recognizes that people who drink too much can suffer from varying degrees of alcohol-related problems, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. A reasonable early option for problem drinkers is moderation. Seriously dependent drinkers will probably find a return to moderate drinking a great challenge, but the choice to accept that challenge remains theirs.

Moderation is a reasonable, practical, and attainable recovery goal for many problem drinkers. Outcome studies indicate that brief intervention programs are successful and cost effective.

The Values that guide MM:

  • Members take personal responsibility for their own recovery from a drinking problem.
  • People helping people is the strength of the organization.
  • People who help others to recover also help themselves.
  • Self-esteem and self-management are essential to recovery.
  • Members treat each other with respect and dignity.

Assumptions of MM:

  • Problem drinkers should be offered a choice of behavioral change goals.
  • Harmful drinking habits should be addressed at a very early stage, before problems become severe.
  • Problem drinkers can make informed choices about moderation or abstinence goals based upon educational information and the experiences shared at self-help groups.
  • Harm reduction is a worthwhile goal, especially when the total elimination of harm or risk is not a realistic option.
  • People should not be forced to change in ways they do not choose willingly.
  • Moderation is a natural part of the process from harmful drinking, whether moderation or abstinence becomes the final goal. Most individuals who are able to maintain total abstinence first attempted to reduce their drinking, unsuccessfully. Moderation programs shorten the process of “discovering” if moderation is a workable solution by providing concrete guidelines about the limits of moderate alcohol consumption.

Is MM for every person with a drinking problem?

No. Research suggests that no one solution is best for all people with drinking problems. There are many possible solutions available to each individual, and MM suggests the each person finds the solution that is best for him or her.

MM is good place to begin to address a drinking problem. If MM proves to be an ineffective solution, the individual is encouraged to progress to a more radical solution.

Is moderation a reasonable option for you?

This is your decision. To be successful at moderation or abstinence requires effort and a commitment to change. You should take into account the severity of your drinking problem, your personal preference, and any medical, psychological, or other conditions that would be made worse by drinking, even in moderation. If you are unsure, seek professional advice. MM does not provide professional assessment or treatment.

What if moderation does not work for you?

After completing 30 days of abstinence (step two of the MM program) and then starting the moderation part of the program, you may discover that it is more difficult for you to moderate your drinking than to abstain. In this case, consider a self-management goal of abstinence. Some members of MM who choose abstinence remain in our program; others find an abstinence-only group to attend.