Moderation Management (MM) is a behavioral change program and national support group network for people concerned about their drinking and who desire to make positive lifestyle changes. MM empowers individuals to accept personal responsibility for choosing and maintaining their own path, whether moderation or abstinence. MM promotes early self-recognition of risky drinking behavior, when moderate drinking is a more easily achievable goal. MM is run by lay members who came to the organization to resolve personal issues and stayed to help others.



Behaviors can be changed. MM agrees with many professionals and researchers in the field that alcohol abuse, versus dependence, is a learned behavior (habit) for problem drinkers, and not a disease. This approach recognizes that people who drink too much can suffer from varying degrees of alcohol-related problems, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. A reasonable early option for problem drinkers is moderation. Seriously dependent drinkers will probably find a return to moderate drinking a great challenge, but the choice to accept that challenge remains theirs.
Moderation is a reasonable, practical, and attainable recovery goal for many problem drinkers. Outcome studies indicate that brief intervention programs are successful and cost effective.


  • Members take personal responsibility for their own recovery from a drinking problem.
  • People helping people is the strength of the organization.
  • People who help others to recover also help themselves.
  • Self-esteem and self-management are essential to recovery.
  • Members treat each other with respect and dignity.


  • Problem drinkers should be offered a choice of behavioral change goals.
  • Harmful drinking habits should be addressed at a very early stage, before problems become severe.
  • Problem drinkers can make informed choices about moderation or abstinence goals based upon educational information and the experiences shared at self-help groups.
  • Harm reduction is a worthwhile goal, especially when the total elimination of harm or risk is not a realistic option.
  • People should not be forced to change in ways they do not choose willingly.
  • Moderation is a natural part of the process from harmful drinking, whether moderation or abstinence becomes the final goal. Most individuals who are able to maintain total abstinence first attempted to reduce their drinking, unsuccessfully. Moderation programs shorten the process of "discovering" if moderation is a workable solution by providing concrete guidelines about the limits of moderate alcohol consumption.

Is MM for every person with a drinking problem?

No. Research suggests that no one solution is best for all people with drinking problems. There are many possible solutions available to each individual, and MM suggests the each person finds the solution that is best for him or her. MM is good place to begin to address a drinking problem. If MM proves to be an ineffective solution, the individual is encouraged to progress to a more radical solution.

Is moderation a reasonable option for you?

This is your decision. To be successful at moderation or abstinence requires effort and a commitment to change. You should take into account the severity of your drinking problem, your personal preference, and any medical, psychological, or other conditions that would be made worse by drinking, even in moderation. If you are unsure, seek professional advice. MM does not provide professional assessment or treatment.
What if moderation does not work for you?
After completing 30 days of abstinence (step two of the MM program) and then starting the moderation part of the program, you may discover that it is more difficult for you to moderate your drinking than to abstain. In this case, consider a self-management goal of abstinence. Some members of MM who choose abstinence remain in our program; others find an abstinence-only group to attend.

Why is Moderation Management Needed?


According to the NIAAA and many other independent researchers, there are four times as many problem drinkers as alcoholics in this country. Yet there are very few programs that specifically address the needs of beginning stage problem drinkers, while there are literally thousands of programs for the smaller population who are seriously alcohol dependent.

By the time people reach serious stages of alcohol dependency, changing drinking becomes more difficult, and treatment is usually costly. MM believes that this situation needs to be remedied in the interest of public health and human kindness with early intervention and harm reduction programs. Moderation programs are less costly, shorter in duration, less intensive, and have higher success rates than traditional abstinence-only approaches.

Nine out of ten problem drinkers today actively and purposefully avoid traditional treatment approaches. This is because they know that most traditional programs will label them as "alcoholic",  probably force attendance at 12 step and abstinence based meetings, and prescribe lifetime abstinence as the only acceptable change in drinking.

They may also have real concerns about how their participation in these programs will affect their jobs and ability to attain future medical and life insurance. MM is seen as a less threatening first step, and one that problem drinkers are more likely to attempt before their problems become nearly intractable.

Not surprisingly,  approximately 30% of MM members go on to abstinence-based programs.  This is consistent with research findings from professional moderation training programs. Traditional approaches that are based on the disease model of alcoholdependence and its reliance on the concept of powerlessness can be particularly counterproductive for women and minorities, who often already feel like victims and powerless.

Outcome studies indicate that professional programs which offer both moderation and abstinence have higher success rates than those that offer abstinence only.  Clients tend to self-select the behavior change options which will work best for them.