No classic “rock bottom” experience brought me to Moderation Management in June of 2020. A heavy daily drinker for two decades or more, I overdid it during the pandemic. The waste from all that alcohol weighed heavily, but with my mindset and previous attempts, I had little confidence that I could change. I worried: did I have a problem that required AA? Was it necessary for me to give up my beloved craft beer completely?
Similar thoughts in 2017 led me to Moderation Management, where I found only face-to-face meetings, and none near me. This time, I was delighted to discover virtual meetings—a silver lining to the pandemic—and a wealth of website resources to keep me busy. I had found a path.
My past half-hearted attempts to cut back had produced only failure and self-loathing. Early in my MM journey, a meeting facilitator commented that many people often try to accomplish too much too quickly, and flame out. “Slow and steady wins the race,” he said. The webpage “MM’s Steps of Change” has more on this approach.
The warmth and acceptance of MM meetings helped me develop a kinder attitude toward myself, and set modest goals that I knew were possible as I pursued my biggest goal: avoiding self-loathing at all costs.
As a professional flutist who has played in orchestras for decades, I quickly saw parallels between MM’s Steps of Change and mastering a difficult piece of music. Would I ever expect to learn new music immediately—and then beat up on myself if I didn’t? No! Instead, I would divide it into small chunks, repeating each until fluency came. What if I applied the same measured strategy to achieving moderation?
Here’s how I broke it down:
JUNE. Keep a drinking diary. Attend meetings.
In early June, I began spending time on the Moderation Management website. I enjoyed working on the suggested exercises and wrote in a journal to build awareness of my drinking patterns and triggers. At this point, I couldn’t imagine going even one day without drinking beer—the suggested “30” was out of the question.
So I kept my first goal simple: log my consumption, nothing more. I built a Google form for this purpose. Using it religiously and honestly, I experienced an immediate drop in my counts.
“A burden shared is a burden halved.” I’ll never forget the dramatic feeling of release after my first Toronto virtual meeting in mid-June. In the presence of caring people who shared a concern about their drinking, I felt a new confidence!
JULY. Abstain one day a week. Practice “The Power of One.”
I continued logging faithfully, now using a phone app that made it easy to set and monitor weekly goals. With my commitment growing, I was ready to attempt an abstinent day—my first in recent memory—and I succeeded! For the first two weeks in July, I achieved a weekly goal of 16 drinks per week, no more than three per day and one abstinent day.
Consider my consumption before June—daily drinking for years, three to five per day, and 20 to 30 per week. I was proud. And there was NO self-loathing!
I learned “The Power of One”—start one hour later, make each drink last one hour, stop drinking one hour earlier, etc. One evening, my “Power of One” practices resulted in only ONE beer for the day—now that was powerful!
August. Add a second abstinent day. Continue reducing daily counts.
After a long camping trip (with vacation rules), I was ready for the next step: two abstinent days per week. My commitment to attend two meetings a week made this easier since no drinking before meetings is a ground rule.
I continued to plan my drinking in advance, and selected two days each week to limit myself to only two drinks.
When the September Kickstart registration opened early in August, I dived into the prep work, including calculating how much my habit cost. Ouch!
September Kickstart and better than “By the Book Moderation.”
“By the Book” moderation means nine drinks per week, no more than four drinking days per week, and no more than three drinks per day for women.
Moderation had become my new hobby! With three MM meetings per week, I effortlessly eased into three abstinent days, and immersed myself in Kickstart’s daily readings, exercises and tasks. I joined the Kickstart Facebook group. In addition to daily camaraderie, I found the opportunity to encourage others, which helped my focus. As the month progressed, my typical weekly totals fell to below nine. Because my tolerance was now lower, I never wanted more than two in one day.
I have continued successful moderation with weekly planning, and support from MM meetings. I finally did my first “30” during Dry January, using inspiration from MM’s “Dryuary.”
It took four months of slow and incremental progress. But by gently and gradually ramping down with frequent small successes, I built a life change that was doable and durable. I took pride in my success.
And I never had a moment of self-loathing.
Evelyn, MM Member