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.