Moderation Management ™ (MM) is a lay-led non-profit organization that was formed in 1994, by Audrey Kishline. Based on the mid-1980’s works of Drs. Linda and Mark Sobell and their Guided Self Change model, this group is dedicated to reducing harm caused by the misuse of alcohol.

The Principles of Harm Reduction and Moderation

Harm reduction can mean a complete cessation of alcohol, following the moderate drinking guidelines, or just reducing overall intake. MM recognizes the guidelines for moderate drinking set forth by the CDC and NIAAA and encourages members to set meaningful goals that work for them using these parameters as a backdrop.

Harm reduction can mean reducing the number of daily drinks, the number of weekly drinks, the number of drinking days per month, or a combination of all these ideas.

What is Moderation Management

The Gray Area for Alcohol and Addictive Behaviors

Many people who join MM are “gray area drinkers” who generally don’t identify as alcoholics but recognize the health and social benefits to reducing consumption. Perhaps they’ve had a health issue, or a spouse that quits drinking. Maybe they did a Dry January challenge and they found they wanted to continue.

MM members haven’t always had a “rock bottom” but sometimes a wake-up call, or several “rock middles” that alerted them that cutting back would be a good idea. Nobody is required to identify as an alcoholic or be in “recovery.” Most members want to enjoy an occasional responsible drink, and MM helps them do that.

MM also supports other modalities such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Tempest Sobriety School, SMART Recovery, and IGNTD. MM encourages and empowers members to explore, share, and use what works for them.

Choosing Alcohol Moderation in Shame Free Environment

MM is a shame-free environment, secular, and supportive of all religions and faith. MM embraces diverse people from all walks of life and believes that all sober or moderate days are countable days, so there is no going back to the starting line if someone drinks. There is no rule book or steps that members must take.

However, it is generally encouraged for those new to alcohol reduction to abstain for 30 days as they start their journey, provided they can do so safely. This allows for clarity, personal introspection, and a chance to find a baseline.

Abstinence vs Moderation in Addressing Alcoholic Drinking

Some abstinence-only based groups criticize MM as a “you’re kidding yourself” kind of program, and that full sobriety is the only way to go. However, not everyone who drinks more than they want is an alcoholic or feels comfortable with that label. Programs that only promote full abstention are often not successful due to the all or-nothing mentality.

People may find permanent abstention to be too daunting. They can fail, and feeling ashamed, they give up and unable to meet that binary goal, they stop trying. MM recognizes that different things work for different people, and while abstention might be the eventual choice of some, all harm reduction is helpful. MM also has a large abstinence following.

Ways of Accessing Moderation Management Meetings

Ways of Accessing Moderation Management Meetings

Members have a variety of ways they can connect with other members in a psychologically safe and judgment-free environment. Although an English language-based group, members tune in from all over the world. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, in-person meetings existed in several cities nationwide; during and post-pandemic, online meetings are available every day of the week led by members.

Like other recovery meetings, members find community, and safe and anonymous support from fellow members. Some meetings cater exclusively to abstinence, millennials, men, women, LGBTQIA+, and more social identity groups are in the works. MM also has a private Facebook community, and a presence on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. MM also uses ListServ, live chat rooms, and an online anonymous forum to connect people to immediate support.

Topics for Moderation Management Meetings

Topics of conversation include where to begin, practical tips and tricks for curbing consumption, and how to re-enter the world of responsible drinking after a period of abstinence. Often subjects include how to socialize or vacation while drinking less (or not at all), the connection between anxiety, sleep, and alcohol, and how to navigate relationships when one partner drinks and the other doesn’t.

Members explore the role of media in promoting drinking culture, talk about the challenges of cravings, and have running lists of favorite non-alcoholic drinks. The intersections of mental health and anxiety frequently come up. No subject or question is off the table!

Dryuary and Moderation Management Events and Groups

MM also sponsors a yearly event called Dryuary and information can be found at With the rising popularity of Dry January this can be a good way to begin the new year. Motivational daily emails and inspirational stories are shared by members and providers, and there is a special Facebook group available to join.

Many people find they enjoy Dryuary so much they continue to remain abstinent. MM promotes “Kickstart” twice yearly, which is a 30-day guided moderation period with additional motivation and support tools.

Moderation Management is a caring, shame-free environment where everybody is welcome. MM is free, MM is supportive, accessible, and MM can be a positive alternative for people who aren’t ready to quit completely or who have not thrived in other environments. MM doesn’t tell people what to do, they just tell people what’s worked for them.

Dryuary and Moderation Management Events

Finding Treatment When Moderation Does Not Meet Your Needs

While Moderation Management is a wonderful program that has helped countless people both control and abstain from alcohol, it will not work for everyone.

If you find yourself in the position of absolute physical dependence on a substance and simply cannot maintain moderation due to this, please don’t hesitate to reach out for immediate help.

Pathfinders Recovery Centers, with locations in both Arizona and Colorado, has a fully featured medical detox to help ease physical withdrawals and aid in recovery.

While they insist on abstinence at the facility, their team are open to SMART Recovery and embrace any approach that is grounded in evidence and helps their clients achieve lasting results and a return to the healthy lives they want and deserve.

If you have been burned by past efforts at treatment or are looking for a rehab that embraces a holistic approach to helping their clients, reach out to Pathfinders Recovery Centers today!

About the Author:

Christine Danforth is a member of the Moderation Management™ Operations Team, an essay contributor to Dryuary, and a student of leadership at Western Oregon University.


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