Moderation Management Works for Some, Study Says

People who are mildly dependent on alcohol may have success with cutting back on drinking using moderation-management techniques, but more severely dependent individuals should seek an abstinence-based approach to recovery, according to researchers.

Reuters reported Jan. 16 that a series of reports published in the Harvard Mental Health Letter concluded that drinkers who are moderately dependent may be put off by suggestions that they quit entirely, but might be more receptive to a program designed to limit problem drinking.

Researchers found, however, that long-term odds of success using moderation management were directly related to how severely dependent patients were.

“Patients who try to limit drinking for a while and find they are unable to do so may then realize that they have already developed dependence,” noted newsletter editor Michael Miller. “This may be enough to motivate them to try to abstain.”

The research appears in the January 2009 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.