by Natalie, MM Member
I am honored to share my experience with Moderation Management (MM). I had always had drinking challenges but didn’t realize how harmful it was to myself and others until I hit my bottom this past Easter. I’ve never had a DUI, and I wouldn’t say I’m an alcoholic as I don’t have a chemical dependency.
I suppose, because I’m functional, I knew I drank more than most, but I didn’t consider my situation to be as bad as others. I would often rationalize my behavior, though it was toxic and hurtful in hindsight.
It was easy to blame my behavior on alcohol, just say that I had too much, and say it wasn’t like me. I would just apologize and move on without feeling the need for any major changes, especially the idea of cutting-out alcohol for the rest of my life.
It wasn’t until my most recent relationship ended, that I realized just how bad things were between us. Alcohol, on both our parts, created problems. We would take breaks, or attempt to moderate, but it always came back to the same for us unfortunately. I understood there were deeper underlying issues involved, and I was seeing a counselor, but I felt stuck.
Things had come to a head with my ex and I at Easter when I became very drunk. I was extremely embarrassed having my family involved knowing he would berate me, and they helped me get out of a dangerous and toxic situation.
Although I knew it was for the best that I end things between us for numerous reasons, the most important was that I knew I had to care for myself and choose to do things differently moving forward.
I was able to reconcile with my family and began 94-days of sobriety along with a personal healing program through church and a new counselor.
It was through my new counselor that I found out about MM. It was truly a godsend and answer to prayer. I was honest with her, explaining that I recognized I had a problem with drinking, but did not identify myself as an alcoholic, nor did I want to give-up alcohol for the rest of my life. Consequently, she introduced me to MM. It was the perfect opportunity for me, coming off my sobriety, to learn how to moderate responsibly and have a peaceful relationship with alcohol. I have been by-the-book (BTB), following MM’s guidelines ever since.
Through MM, I learned useful moderate-drinking tools. The “Power of One” tool was especially beneficial as it recommends one small change. Whether it was starting or ending my drinking one hour later or earlier; drinking slowly by spacing-out a beverage for one hour; or alternating with alcohol-free (AF) drinks in-between; this technique has been helpful. Likewise, adding one more abstinence (ABS) day in my week helps me to space-out my drinking days. This gives my body a chance to detox, recover, and lower my tolerance to alcohol.
I follow the MM guidelines and appreciate alcohol more. I feel grateful for MM, which is an alternative to abstinence-only programs. Now, I put the effort into moderating so I can not only enjoy alcohol responsibly, but put measures in place to honor myself and others, rather than having to abstain indefinitely.
I also attend an MM meeting once a week, participate on the MM Facebook page, have done Kickstart, and other MM group opportunities such as the September BTB Streakers which is for those practicing by-the-book (BTB) guidelines. Also, I find Molly Watts’ podcast, “the Alcohol Minimalist,” very helpful, and I enjoy listening as I walk along the beach. This is beneficial for my body, mind, and spirit, along with finding a healthy hobby to fill my time with that doesn’t involve drinking.
Some of the challenges I have faced include the temptation not to follow MM guidelines when I don’t feel like getting in all my ABS days; or fantasizing about not having to think about or control my drinking by wanting to exceed my three-drink limit, especially if I can rationalize being home on a weekend and not driving. In my mind, I’m not hurting anyone. But in reality, even behind closed doors, I would still be doing a disservice to myself which in turn still affects others.
I have addressed this by continuing to follow the MM guidelines anyway, knowing that whether or not I agree, I am choosing to stay BTB by honoring and respecting myself and others. Especially when I think of the hurt caused at Easter, and my past that I would never want to repeat, especially with those near and dear to me, including myself.
The advice I would give to people considering joining MM or currently struggling is just to start where you’re at. This is the most loving, supportive, nonjudgmental group of authentic individuals who are not only encouraging but alongside this journey with you!
Even if all you do is show up on a forum or meeting, you’re really showing-up for yourself and showing you care. Starting small is a good way to go. Even if it’s cutting back by one drink, or trying a day off, every bit of effort makes such a tremendous difference in the long run. Know you are supported as you continue to navigate what’s best for your journey in finding a peaceful relationship with alcohol.