After you finish alcohol rehab in AZ, you may be wondering if you can ever have a drink again. Can you drink in moderation? Is it possible to drink socially without relapsing with alcohol misuse or alcohol use disorder?
Continued after video:
For years, the answer was always a hard “no.” Alcohol abstinence was the only solution for someone with a drinking problem, as a lack of control over one’s drinking is a vital part of having an alcohol use disorder. Some people believe that drinking in moderation is possible, but it’s essential to understand the risks.
What Is Drinking in Moderation?
Alcohol use is highly normalized in society, so it’s challenging to determine what “drinking in moderation” really means.
A moderate amount of alcohol is:
- One drink or less in a day for women
- Two drinks or less in a day for men
What defines one drink? Beer, wine, and liquor have different amounts of alcohol, so one drink is roughly equal to:
- One bottle of regular beer at 12 ounces
- One glass of wine at 5 ounces
- One shot of liquor or spirits, such as gin, rum, or vodka at 1.5, either on its own or in a mixed drink
Can Someone with a Drinking Problem Drink in Moderation?
Maybe. Some people with less severe drinking problems can reduce alcohol consumption and keep it within safer limits.
It’s important to understand that there are different types of alcohol problems and different levels of severity, however. Not everyone with a drinking problem is an “alcoholic” or someone who is alcohol-dependent.
During alcohol rehab, your evaluation process determines the nature and severity of your alcohol problem and your ability to succeed in moderation. Then, if you want to try moderation after a period of abstinence, you can do so with support and guidance to learn how to manage social drinking.
The experience is different for everyone. You may find that you are better off with abstinence. But for some people, drinking an occasional drink is manageable and doesn’t put them at risk of relapse.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Being a “problem drinker’ doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s an alcohol use disorder. People can have unhealthy relationships with alcohol that involve alcohol misuse, like heavy drinking or binge drinking, rather than what’s commonly referred to as being an alcoholic. Generally, drinking in moderation is more successful for people considered problem drinkers than people with moderate or severe alcohol use disorder.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), an alcohol use disorder includes criteria like:
- The inability to control how much you drink
- Trying to cut back or stop drinking unsuccessfully
- Tolerance to alcohol, meaning you need to drink more to achieve the same effects
- Feeling anxious, irritable, or stressed when not drinking
- Spending an excessive amount of time seeking out, using, or recovering from alcohol
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after cutting back or stopping alcohol use
- Experiencing disruptions in work, school, or home life from using alcohol
What Are the Risks of Moderate Drinking?
After alcohol rehab, you may want to drink in moderation to engage more in social events that involve drinking, such as a toast at a wedding or a beer during the big game. But otherwise, you have to consider why you really want to drink any alcohol at all and consider whether it’s worth the risks.
There are a few reasons why moderate drinking may not be appropriate for people with alcohol use disorder:
- You may experience withdrawal symptoms after drinking in moderation and cutting back.
- You may experience the negative aspects of drinking, such as blackouts, hangovers, or guilt.
- Once you begin drinking again, you may not be able to control the alcohol you consume or predict your behaviors.
- You may fall back into a pattern of problem drinking or alcohol use disorder.
- Alcohol may be a trigger for other substance use disorders.
Tips for Moderating Alcohol Use
If you’re not struggling with an alcohol use disorder, you may be able to moderate your alcohol intake without developing a problem. Here are some tips:
- Track your intake to ensure you don’t exceed the recommended daily beer, wine, or liquor limits.
- Set attainable goals like only drinking in moderation on specific days or taking some days off.
- Consider medication to assist with drinking in moderation, such as naltrexone.
- Talk to your support system to stay accountable for your goals.
Moderate drinking isn’t possible for everyone. Even if you plan to try having a drink occasionally, make sure you have healthy alternatives to drinking alcohol, such as hobbies or a new workout routine, as an outlet for stress or boredom.
Managing Sobriety with Desert Cove Recovery, Alcohol Rehab in AZ
Suppose you feel the urge to drink in moderation. In that case, it’s important to understand if you’re looking for engagement in social situations that involve alcohol or if you’re experiencing temptation to drink. If it’s the latter, you may need more support to maintain sobriety or control your alcohol use. Contact us today to talk about relapse prevention.
Sources: https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/health-conditions/heart-health/drink-alcohol-only-moderation  https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/a0022487  https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/health-conditions/heart-health/drink-alcohol-only-moderation