A new study suggests that people struggling with alcohol misuse have more success at going completely dry versus controlling their drinking.
Researchers in Sweden set out to test a theory that the most important factor in recovery is for a patient and treatment provider to have a shared recovery goal: either abstinence or moderate drinking.
However, the researchers actually found that even when patients and providers were working toward the same recovery outcome, those who stopped drinking altogether were far more successful than those who wanted to curb their consumption.
The study looked at outcomes 2.5 years after patients started treatment. Around 90% of abstainers were still sober, while only 50% of those who sought to become moderate drinkers were still successfully controlling their alcohol consumption. The results were published in the most recent edition of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
The study speaks to different approaches for treating alcohol misuse disorders. Many treatment professionals and prominent self-help organizations, like Alcoholics Anonymous, advocate complete abstinence from alcohol. However, a smaller group of treatment providers suggest that individuals with alcohol problems can learn to drink in moderation. The latter view also seems to be more prevalent outside the U.S.