There is a program for drinking in moderation. More specifically, it is a harm reduction program called HAMS. It is based on a belief that many people are going to use drugs and alcohol, despite even the strongest treatment efforts. Their aim is to find approaches that will reduce the level of bad behavior. They support basically three kinds of consumption — you can stop using drugs and alcohol, you can “cut-back a little” or you can use in moderation.
Harm reduction is a nonjudgmental approach that attempts to meet people “where they are at” with their drinking or drug use. Instead of demanding perfect abstinence, this pragmatic approach is supportive of anyone who wishes to minimize the harm associated with a high risk behavior such as drinking or drug use. Harm reduction accepts that high risk behaviors such as recreational alcohol intoxication are part of our world and works to minimize their harmful effects rather than simply ignore or condemn them. Harm reduction does not attempt to force people to change in ways which they do not choose for themselves. Harm reduction is a compassionate approach whose primary concern is the increased well-being of its constituency. Moreover an overwhelming body of scientific evidence shows that harm reduction works!!
The philosophy is that most people who use drugs or alcohol do not need treatment. They want to provide options that help people minimize risks. The main goal is to keep folks healthy and safe. — allowing people to suffer or die from drugs and alcohol can be avoided.
If you are an alcoholic like me, cutting back in not an option. Drinking in a controlled way, holds no value. I can’t recall ever wanting “one” drink — even in my teenage years. And now that I am sober, I consider, even a few sips to be a deadly activity. It might sound dramatic, but it is not. When I drink, I have an alcoholic (allergic) reaction. A few sips, will set off a trigger in my brain and I will not be able to make rational choices. Willpower will cease to exist, and I can not predict what will happen. It’s possible that I will stop at a few drinks. However, countless attempts with this experiment has shown that most likely I will come out of a “black out” several days later. A lot of damage can occur in those few days.
if you are not like me and just drink heavy, then maybe some moderate drinking strategies can help you. Here are some tips for people following a Harm Reduction strategy. This is for people who wish to have some Moderate Drinking days, some Intoxication days and some Abstinence days.
1) Eat before you drink.
Drinking on an empty stomach will make BAC rise very quickly and you may well pass out or suffer a blackout. And what is the fun of a party which you cannot even remember? Note: eating after you have drunk has little or no effect.
2) Be well hydrated.
Make certain that you drink plenty of water before you start drinking any alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic and it will cause you to become dehydrated. The more alcohol you drink, the thirstier you feel. Having plenty of water in your system will keep you from feeling thirsty and you will drink more slowly.
3) Plan and schedule your drinking.
Don’t just drink on any day you feel like it, plan and schedule it so that you can easily stay within weekly limits.
4) Plan your transportation.
Never drive to a drinking event. The most sensible thing is to leave your car keys at home. Walking or using public transportation is the most sensible thing.
5) Choose your buzz.
Some people will choose to drink only one drink on a moderation day and avoid getting any buzz at all. Others will choose to stay within the HAMS Moderate Drinking Limits and choose to only achieve a moderate buzz. Whichever you choose, it is important to make your decision ahead of time.
6) Measure your drinks.
The only way to be certain that what you are drinking is a standard drink is to actually measure it with a jigger or a measuring cup or what have you.
7) Count and chart your drinks.
Reserve a paper or online calendar specifically for the purpose of recording your drinks and write down the number of standard drinks you have every day.
8) Pace your drinks.
Drinking no more than one standard drink per hour will keep one from becoming very buzzed. Drinking two standard drinks per hour will keep the buzz level low. One thing which can help you to pace your drinks is to alternate your drinks.
9) Alternate your drinks.
One technique to slow down your drinking rate and stay within HAMS Moderate Drinking Limits is to alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks.
10) Choose your drinks.
If you have a favorite drink for when you like to get intoxicated it may be best to avoid it when you are working on moderation.
11) Avoid pre-drinking.
Cutting out pre-drinking is essential if you wish to stay within Moderate Drinking Limits.
12) Avoid drinking when you feel bad.
It is much harder to control one’s drinking and stay within moderate limits when one is feeling angry, depressed, anxious, or tired than it is when one is feel good.
13) Have a snack instead.
Eating a snack when one is craving a drink can often kill the craving entirely.
14) Do an abstinence period.
Most people find it worthwhile to do an abstinence period at some point during their quest for a better way to drink.
15) Get support.
If you can not moderate your drinking, then get some help. The earlier you recognize you have crossed the line from heavy drinker to alcoholic the better. You don’t have to hit “rock bottom” to recover!
4 thoughts on “Drinking in Moderation”
I tried HAMS for about a week. It was just too much to think about, too much to plan for, too much to obsess over. What day do I drink, how much do I drink, what do I drink, when do I drink it, etc… Not drinking at all is sooooo much easier from a thinking perspective.
I tried to moderate my drinking and was unsuccessful most of the time. I need to avoid alcohol completely. I have done that since 2012 and life is much more pleasant. No more guilt, shame and remorse. Thanks for the information
I don’t see this working for any alcoholic. We always want more!
Your alcohol/substance addiction blogs are very informative and, especially, practical. Keep it up! People need good information on how to break free.
I would also suggest it is important to turn to God to fulfill your cravings for whatever addiction one has (alcohol/drugs/sugar). My dad used to consume alcohol and to smoke. He surrendered his life to Jesus and has been sober / cigarette free for over 40 years now.
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