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You have a problem with alcohol but you don’t want to quit altogether – is controlled drinking the answer?

Abstinence works for many, including writer and recovering alcoholic Suzanne Harrington. But are there alternatives to dealing with alcohol misuse and what is the evidence to support them?

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For some people, monitoring drinking habits can be effective at curbing addictive behaviours to alcohol

For some people, monitoring drinking habits can be effective at curbing addictive behaviours to alcohol

Addiction researcher Rob Calder, who is head of communications at the Society for the Study of Addiction and an editor of the Addiction Journal

Addiction researcher Rob Calder, who is head of communications at the Society for the Study of Addiction and an editor of the Addiction Journal

Kate Bailly, who is a holistic sobriety coach and co-founder of LoveSober

Kate Bailly, who is a holistic sobriety coach and co-founder of LoveSober

Joanne Nash, who is a certified life and recovery coach and owner of The Sober Coach

Joanne Nash, who is a certified life and recovery coach and owner of The Sober Coach

Controlled drinking can stop alcohol controlling your life

Controlled drinking can stop alcohol controlling your life

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For some people, monitoring drinking habits can be effective at curbing addictive behaviours to alcohol

Is there a case for controlled drinking? Or if you have to control it, does this mean it’s problematic? Many of us have tried controlled drinking before painfully realising abstinence is the only thing that works; trying to control our drinking brought us nothing but frustration and despair.

Yet the alternative — never drinking again — seemed so overwhelming that we kept going around in circles, until we got so dizzy we fell into 12-step, abstinence-based recovery. And it works — for millions of us, it is a lifesaver, a gamechanger. Based on altruism, it is free and anonymous for anyone who needs it. The problem is that by the time you turn up at a meeting, the wheels may have already come off. Do we really have to reach rock bottom before we stop?


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