One criticism of The Freedom Model is that we talk about the possibility of reducing substance use to non-problematic levels. This is heresy in the addiction treatment and recovery world, yet the data is clear: approximately half of those who once fit the criteria for alcohol use disorder now use alcohol at moderate (non-problematic levels). Some say that perhaps those people who are able to moderate weren’t “real alcoholics” but that’s not how science works. You can’t simply throw out the results that don’t fit your disease-based hypothesis.

According to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), when surveying those who fit the diagnosis of alcohol dependence a year or more prior to the survey, the results were as follows (National Institutes of Health, 2010):

  • 25% were drinking in a way diagnosable as “alcohol dependence”
  • 2% were abstinent
  • 8% were drinking without dependence (i.e. drinking moderately)

As you can see the most likely outcome was a reduction in alcohol use to a non-problematic level! So the evidence is clear, just because some people may continue to use heavily doesn’t mean they can’t use moderately, it only means they didn’t. It means they have a strong preference for intoxication that has likely become habitual, and changing that preference can be tricky for some, but it’s never impossible.

The research data shows this is true for other drugs as well. No one is ever out of control of their substance use, they are using in ways they feel are beneficial to them in some way. To learn how to change your preference from heavy use to moderate use or abstinence, get The Freedom Model for Addictions: Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap.