A bit of a warning
Many people love the idea of moderation. Who wouldn’t like being able to say ‘no’ after one drink and still feel like a part of social life, where alcohol is so ingrained? But after trying various tactics, many swear that moderating doesn’t work. And that’s okay! Alcohol dependency is a serious topic that should be handled with sensitivity and care. As we are taking a closer look at moderation for this week’s blog, we would like to give a heads-up for those who don’t find it works for them. If this is you, we suggest giving this blog a miss.
Suppose you have people around you who may be interested in moderation, reading or sharing this article might be helpful to support those whom you love. Either way, both abstinence and moderation are attempts to have a healthier relationship with alcohol. At Hello Sunday Morning, we fully support your decision without judgement – what works for one person might not be the same for another.
For the rest of us who are on the first stage of trying to give alcohol a break, you might fall into the category of ‘trying to cut back’ rather than trying to quit everything right away. It can be a lonely and challenging journey, so here’s an article that we’re hoping will give an insight on what it looks like to moderate. We’ll be covering what it means to moderate, understanding motives behind moderation, tips that might be useful for you, and when moderation isn’t an option.
Before moving on, everyone is on their unique journey and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Our suggestion is to speak to your GP or chat with our Care Navigators on the Daybreak app, to see what works best for you.
So, what is Moderation?
You might recall one of our recent Tips and Hacks – setting small goals to begin with might be more sustainable in changing your relationship with alcohol. There is no definite answer to what moderation looks like, and it is different from one individual to another. The most common belief about moderation is that we limit ourselves to one or two drinks.
Although this is true, moderation does not stop here. There are many interpretations of moderate drinking. It could mean having no alcohol at home, drinking a big glass of water after you finish a glass of wine, or establishing a time limit and quantity on consuming alcohol per sitting. Choosing an alcohol-free day or weekend can also mean cutting back.
There are stages in changes, and for those in the contemplation stage, the idea of moderation sounds more manageable. If alcohol is a big part of social life, the idea of cutting back can be used as a motivation to make the change. In other words, moderation could be the first step to abstinence (If you are interested to read more about stages in changes, read our previous article here).
Most people choose moderation to have both the benefit of enjoying alcohol and a hangover-free morning. For some, supporting a loved one means choosing to cut back. Limiting drinks seems manageable if it means being supportive to those whom they care about. You might recall a friend or a family member who altered their drinking behaviour around you. This could still mean an attempt to moderate drinking.
Challenges in moderation
Just like training for a long-distance run, having small jogs and walks in between intervals could make it manageable to build endurance. But often, as those who train for running commonly express, it can feel like cheating. Of course, like most analogies, it falls short in comparing the two situations together. But the point is, for those who moderate, it can often feel like they haven’t done the heavy lifting yet and therefore, their attempt can be seen as unvalidated.
On our Instagram feed, we’ve seen celebrations for three weeks , 18 months, or two years of sobriety. Even one day of sobriety is well celebrated too. What would be the equivalent of soberversary to those who moderate? After all, stopping at one drink is a good attempt and well-deserved praise for self-control. This is an area that we honestly haven’t been able to tap into.
Some tips on moderating
Trying to moderate can be tricky as we tend to set a big goal on our first attempt. Remember, setting small and achievable goals is the key here. Alcohol can cloud our decisions. What might start out as a good intention can serve us negatively. So set a clear plan and have a person whom you trust for accountability. If you decide to have one drink at the party, perhaps being a designated driver or sticking with non-alcoholic drinks to start with might be your party tricks.
In the past, we shared a few personal stories of those who moderate, like Rob Mills and Lucy Bloom. Reading stories that are similar to ours might help inspire and motivate us. It is the connections that make the journey feel less daunting.
When moderation is not an option
Although moderation is one way of having a healthier relationship with alcohol, there are times where we’ve compromised our commitment. Ask for honest feedback from your loved ones and friends. If alcohol use starts to take control of your life, it is time to speak to your GP or a counsellor in the AOD (Alcohol and Other Drugs) field. Here at Hello Sunday Morning, we have extensive resources on our website, to get started. If you like, our Daybreak app might be a great place to start as we have a supportive and anonymous community.
A high level of dependency on addictive substances including alcohol can cause damages to our body if we seek to abstain too quickly – seek medical advice for what works for you.
A healthy relationship with alcohol it’s not just about sobriety or moderation, but there is a world of difference between trying or not trying.
If you are trying to moderate your drinking, please share your insight and tips in the comments below.