Have you signed up for one of MM’s Moderation Month and feel like a kid on the first day of school with no school supplies? There are some things you can do beforehand to make your MM Moderation Month course more enjoyable and as a result, more successful.
- Make a list of activities you’d like to pursue during the course. You will likely discover that drinking took up more time than you thought, plus you’ll have more energy. Dust off that guitar or running shoes and break out the knitting needles and paintbrushes-keeping our hands busy keeps them from missing the feel of a drink in them.
- Stock up on healthy non-alcoholic beverages for those abstinent nights and for drinking in between alcoholic drinks to help you maintain your moderate goals. Now is a good time to discover some new favorites. You can throw some unhealthy NA ones in there, too, for the days you feel like indulging yourself. Rewards are necessary!
- While you’re loading up on those non-alcoholic beverages, start snooping around for low-alcohol alternatives to you favorite beverages, too. There are some really good low alcohol wines and beer out there. After all, we’re focusing on moderation this month, not abstinence. Unlike some other programs you might have wandered into, we didn’t lure you in here just to convince you that abstinence is really the best choice. We like to drink just like you, we just want to teach you to do it responsibly.
- Start a drinking diary or start using a drink counting app such as Sunnyside so you can accurately track the change in your drinking habit. This may sound like an insignificant task but the Addiction Research Foundation in Ontario, one of the most highly regarded in the English-speaking world, rate this strategy as one of the most important. (Responsible Drinking Handbook; Rotgers, Kern, & Hoetzel; pg. 133) You might be surprised to find that just actively keeping track reduces your drinking without any conscious effort to drink less .
Too many times we dwell on the times we don’t obtain our goals, a tracking system of some type will give us a more accurate picture of progress.
*A word about Sunnyside and other MM partners that you will see recommended on our Moderation Month Course website. While our partners do support us financially, we recommend them because our members recommended them to us and told us about the success they had with these apps, programs or products. That’s why they became our partners, because we asked them. We will also recommend resources and products that are not partners of MM. Again, because our members have recommended them in our communities or meetings. To see learn more about our partners, check them out on MM’s Partner’s page.
- Educate yourself a little about moderation. Take a trip through moderation.org and make yourself at home. Join a meeting
or one of our online communities, you’ll be welcome.
- Educate yourself about the effects of alcohol on your body and brain. We will not spend a lot time talking about that during the course because there are people who know lot more about it than us and they’ve written books. We recommend Dr. David Nutt’s, “Drink?” because while he is frank about the effect that alcohol has on us, he also respects the reader’s desire to drink moderately, if that is their choice. Some books purport to support moderation and then say, “Now that you’ve read this book, you really don’t want to drink, do you?” Those aren’t on our recommended reading list.
- Complete the Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire . The results provide an indication of how difficult moderation may be for you. A high score does not give a definitive answer as to whether or not you will succeed at moderation, though. “About three-quarters of people with alcohol dependence reduce or stop drinking without any kind of professional treatment or even interaction with a community support group such as AA (Dawson et al. 2005). “ If you’re like me and the thought of completing a questionnaire about drinking gives you the creeps, don’t do it. We make a solemn promise to you that you won’t have to do anything you aren’t ready to do or are uncomfortable doing. It starts here.
- Perform a cost analysis of your drinking. Yes, write down how much you spend on alcohol each month-this is one of the most tangible measurements of a change in our drinking habit. (Sunnyside starts tracking this for you when you sign up) But, also write down the effect drinking has had on your personal and professional life. How has it affected your relationships? Your work performance? Your own enjoyment of life? What benefit do you get from drinking? We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think there were some benefits. What’s the downside of your drinking? What benefit do you hope to achieve with moderation? Don’t spend too much time on the negatives of the past here, focus on the positive benefits you hope to obtain-this is more powerful (See next assignment)
- Watch the following video. Where are you in the Stages of Change? Do you have a well-formed outcome yet? If you do, what is it? If you don’t, what would you like it to be? While the Kickstart Moderation Course is geared to people who are ready to enter the Action Stage of Change and start actively and physically taking steps to change their relationship with alcohol, people who are in other Stages of Change are also welcome to participate since information is sometimes necessary to advance us in the Steps of Change.