What Is Moderation Management?

Moderation Management has been around for almost 20 years yet few have heard of it, as it is more or less shrouded in mystery. But lately the program has picked up traction again after a shaky and tumultuous past. What is moderation management and how does it differ from similar recovery programs?

What is Moderation Management?

Similar to its counterparts like Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step groups, Moderation Management is a program that is geared toward people addressing their problem with alcohol. The primary difference being, MM is geared towards “problem drinkers” instead of true alcoholics, leaving the decision to moderate or abstain from drinking entirely up to the individual. Moderation Management tries to move away from traditional treatment programs, distancing themselves by not calling their members “alcoholics” which can have a lot of stigma attached to it.

Moderation Management and its Dark History

Moderation Management has been around since 1994, but it was living more or less in the shadows from 2000 to 2012, mired in controversy over its founder, Audrey Kishline. After starting MM, Kishline left the group, realizing that she could not moderate her drinking after all. She returned to AA, then fell off the wagon, drunk-driving in March 2000 and killing a man and his 12-year-old daughter. She was released from prison in 2003, and in 2014, plagued by guilt and other demons, Kishline killed herself.

In the year since Kishline’s death, MM has had something of a resurgence, bolstered by the launch of the US National Institute of Health’s Rethinking Drinking program and a 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control calling out “excessive drinking” as something both independent of alcohol dependence and a major public health issue that is not being addressed by currently available tools and programs. (via The Guardian)

Does Moderation Management Work?

Moderation Management offers a lot of seemingly positive characteristics that would appeal to many people who may have preconceived notions regarding other 12 step programs. The interesting fact of the matter is that as many as 30% of MM members go on to abstinence based-programs.

Though MM claims that moderation and abstinence programs have higher success rates than those that offer abstinence only, their criteria for this claim leaves something to be desired and seems to be more of a conjecture than a statement based on fact. That being said, even though 12 step programs will suggest abstinence, the only absolute requirement to attend meetings and participate is a mere desire to stop.

The bottom line is, that each person has his or her own experience in recovery. Though 12 step programs are predominant, they are not the only option. What are your experiences with programs outside of 12 step?

Last Updated on August 31, 2023


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