Alcoholism: Impervious to Moderation

By Christopher Heide

A new theory has begun to pervert popular culture and could continue to have a drastically adverse affect on alcohol abuse. A minority of alcohol abuse counselors assert that some problem drinkers can learn to moderately consume alcohol.

Nothing could be more dangerous to a generation that already severely lacks impulse control.

Alcohol abuse by young adults has run rampant throughout American society for some time now. Despite the numerous negative social and medical consequences associated with the abuse of alcohol, numerous young adults continue to engage in destructive behaviors such as binge drinking.

More often than not, said individuals are under the delusion that they do not suffer from alcohol abuse problems or alcoholism.

For several decades, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been the prominent treatment choice for alcohol abuse sufferers. A tenant of this program requires that members completely abstain from consuming any alcoholic drinks. The first step of the infamous 12-step program requires members to admit that they have "no power over alcohol."

Clearly, several followers of the moderate consumption ideal would disagree. According to an article in The Chicago Sun-Times, although not mainstream, several Internet groups and books have created a following for moderate drinking support groups, such as Moderation Management.

They purport the belief that individuals can control the alcohol they consume and not the other way around. Harvard Medical School lecturer and alcohol counselor Michael Levy has even written a new book entitled Take Control of Your Drinking . . . And You May Not Need to Quit.

Alcoholics Anonymous asserts that nothing could be further from the truth.

"Our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, some day he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker," according to Alcoholics Anonymous. "The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death. . . All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals — usually brief — were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization."

Why should a program that has worked so well for so many people be dislodged by such obvious junk science? This is not the first time that moderation has entered the alcohol recovery lexicon.

Moderation Management was originally founded in 1993 by Audrey Kishline. Through her book Moderate Drinking: The New Option for Problem Drinking, moderate drinking is surely appealing to alcoholics who struggled to stay sober. Despite her sobering sermons regarding the frailties of AA and the benefits of moderate drinking,Kishline herself was unable to control her own drinking.

In 2000, Kishline was charged with vehicular manslaughter after she drove the wrong way down I-90, killing a father and his 12-year-old daughter.

"Kishline said afterward through her attorney that Moderation Management was just a bunch of alcoholics covering up their problem," according to the Sun Times.

A history as sordid as this should teach these moderate drinking supporters that alcoholics should not drink, as they cannot control their drinking. Any other line of thought is asinine and detrimental to a society that already suffers from an abundance of addiction problems. Alcoholism is a disease for which there is no cure. Moderate drinking among those with abuse problems simply tempts the sober hands of fate.

Theories such as these will prove detrimental to college students, many of whom are already incredibly irresponsible when it comes to their drinking. Often, one's ability to drink is positively correlated with social status. The more you can drink, the more fun you are.

This tremendously increases the pressure to consume alcohol in excess. Especially recently, it seems that a large number of college women have been given accolades for their ability to drink men under the table.

Given that social drinking runs rampant across college campuses, students must be educated on the signs and risks of alcohol abuse. They should not be given another excuse to promulgate dangerous behaviors. Of course, numerous students and young adults do drink responsibly, but those who do not should not be given further justifications and excuses to continue said behaviors.

Perhaps the proponents of such theories should take an introspective look at their own lives. Surely they are not benefiting society; rather they are justifying their own selfish and self-destructive drinking behaviors.

It's like George Washington once said: "An aching head and trembling limbs, which are inevitable effects of drinking, disincline the hands from work."