Alcoholism posts in the Guardian
Alcoholism posts in the Guardian.
The guardian is a great paper and website from the UK that tends to write more balanced articles that are detailed compared to many other news organisations. A couple of recent pieces caught my eye so I thought I would add them here.
The next AA? Welcome to Moderation Management, where abstinence from alcohol isn’t the answer:
The moderation management organisation does not get as much exposure as it should do, but has survived controversy, such as the Audrey Kishline car crash and slowly continued to build. It offers a great alternative to the 12 steps AA type approach, as many people cannot or do not wish to be abstinent. Not everyone with a drink problem is a full blown alcoholic and some support can often help them change their ways. The piece talks with Marc Kern who has written some great pieces on the subject.
Here is a section from the piece – you can read the whole thing here http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/16/the-next-aa-moderation-management-abstinence-alcohol-isnt-the-answer
Upstairs from one of my favorite Oakland dive bars, 10 people of varying ages and backgrounds are sitting in a circle, talking about their drinking problem.
“I make plans for my non-drinking days so that I’m not thinking about it so much – I work out, I schedule late work meetings, so it’s not even a temptation,” a tall, thin older woman says. Later, she explains that there was a time not long ago when the idea of getting through any day without five or six drinks seemed impossible to her.
“Go out later, hold off on that first drink, set up a game for yourself like ‘I can only buy one drink and then I have to get any others I want bought for me’,” adds a young man in stubble and a newsboy cap. “Hold off on your second drink, too,” adds the older man sitting next to him. “I used to order my next drink halfway through my first, so I’d be halfway through my second before the effects of the first one would kick in and then forget about it.”
This is Moderation Management (MM), a program whose rising popularity and success rate is posing the first real challenge in decades to the traditional, black and white approach to addiction.
The program typically starts with 30 days off booze altogether – “doing a 30” in MM parlance – followed by a slow reintroduction of alcohol, and eventually a plan to limit your intake: no more than 14 drinks a week for men, nine a week for women, and no drinking more than three or four days a week for either. There’s increasing talk of applying MM to marijuana use as well, although that’s not officially condoned by the nonprofit of the same name, which administers the program.
“People do come in lately who want help moderating marijuana and because it’s still illegal in California, we shy away from it,” explains Marc Kern, the organization’s director. “That doesn’t mean they can’t come to meetings and listen and stuff like that. But in states that have legalized it, I can see a time where there’s a different MM – Marijuana Moderation.”
Another woman nearly started to cry when talking about issues with her son, her marriage, and her stressful job. She said the only thing getting her through was the bottle of wine she drinks every night. She’d had a few occasions recently where she blacked out from drinking, then spent days in bed depressed. The group gave her ideas for ways she could take a few days away from all of it – the stress, the husband and the drinking – and suggested more therapy to deal with the psychological triggers of her drinking and depression.
A young man in the group explained that he had bipolar disorder, that he was feeling great on his new medication, but that there might be a problem when it comes to alcohol. “I’m not someone who drinks when they’re depressed, I drink when I’m up,” he said. “If I’m feeling good, I want to be out being social, and that means drinking.” The group offered some tips and tricks for sticking to the four-drink-a-night maximum, and for finding ways to be social without drinking. When the older man sitting next to him talked about his daily marijuana use and how it keeps him from being too irritable about anything, the bipolar man raised an eyebrow and gently suggested that using marijuana as a mood stabilizer was different, and more problematic, than just smoking pot because you like it and think it’s fun.
There was no therapist in the room, and the moderator, a two-year MM “veteran”, gently steered people away from delving too deeply into issues that might be better addressed in therapy.