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Can I Control My Alcohol Consumption?


Updated April 09, 2014

Question: Can I Control My Alcohol Consumption?
If it has hit you that you are drinking too much, and that cutting down or quitting is not as easy as you thought it would be, you may be wondering whether you can get your alcohol consumption under control. Many people, including some medical professionals, believe that abstinence is the only way. But research is telling a different story.

Research tells us that controlled drinking is not only possible, but it is quite common among people who used to drink heavily. Many people cut down on their alcohol intake without medical or therapeutic help, although it is advisable to discuss your alcohol intake with your family doctor before trying to change it. It can be dangerous to quit without adequate medical support.

Some people who drink heavily are better off avoiding alcohol completely. But most can get control over their drinking and drink safer levels of alcohol without having to quit entirely. If you plan to attempt to control your drinking, there are several steps you should take to assist you in this process.

  • Talk to your family doctor about whether moderation or abstinence is right for you.
  • Keep track of how much you are drinking.
  • Figure out your daily blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
  • Set your daily and weekly alcohol limits.
  • Change the way you drink.
  • Develop alternatives to drinking that work for you.
  • Develop more effective self-care, coping and stress management skills.

There is a lot on this list, and you might benefit from the help of a counselor in working through it. Some treatment programs will accept clients with goals of moderation, while others will only provide treatment to people who intend to become abstinent. If you believe moderation is the right goal for you, you owe it to yourself to find a program that will support you in your new lifestyle.


Miller, W. & Munoz, R. Controlling Your Drinking: Tools to Make Moderation Work For You. Guilford, New York. 2005.

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