In all almost all developed & developing countries around the world Alcohol Moderation Therapy or AMT has become the norm...except in America.
There are a lot of reasons for this:
America has a privately run 50 billion dollar a year treatment industry. With many being repeat customers. In fact, the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors estimates that people 'go to rehab' an average of six times dealing with an alcohol problem. For those cynically inclined these stark facts alone are enough to explain the resistance that is just now being overcome to AMT in the US.
But it does go deeper than the just profit motive:
The most common AMT approach remains The Sinclair Method. Sinclair is a side effect heavy approach, often robbing men of sex drive, causing emotional flatness in both sexes and potential liver damage from the very high dose of the medication Naltrexone that is required to achieve results. In our malpractice rich environment of today that weighs heavy on the mind of healthcare providers, along with knowing that for the gain each client may experience a significant loss. Especially the knowledge that those side effects can survive long after the Naltrexone is stopped.
Despite the fact that we know for sure that alcoholism is a very real brain disease, that is NOT voluntarily acquired (87% of all American adults drink in their lifetime, but only10% react to alcohol in an addictive manner) we still have a strong sense of stigma in the US about 'catching alcoholism' as I often describe it. The use of abstinence-based approaches is emotionally experienced 'a just outcome' for being so 'foolish' as to have alcoholism. The problem with this, of course, is that only 1:15 people stay permanently abstinent. Relapse is a punishment not just for the victim of alcoholism but for everyone who is important to the victim as well. How 'just' is that?
When I unintentionally discovered the essence of what became the ReNova Method it was through many clients having what was viewed then as a series of inexplicably very minor 'lapses' that were easier than usual to correct. It took me some years to accept that something different was happening e.g. that these clients were displaying brief normal episodes of situational social drinking. When I finally was able to overcome my own (trained in) professional prejudice I still had a lot of fear surrounding any attempt to intentionally use the process to moderate alcohol use.
I am sorry I waited. Because what I have seen since beginning to do so are clients who can not only drink in a safer social manner, but I have seen them become more relaxed, more self-accepting, more open with family and friends, less controlling and overall far more like they were before alcoholism began to take hold. I have seen success rates that strongly compare to the Sinclair Method BUT with positive rather than negative additional effects.
Can ReNova be used for abstinence as well? Certainly, for alcohol and for drug abuse as well.
The success rate remains well above the norm seen with 12 step approaches of AA/NA et al.
The terrific thing about being able to offer problem drinking clients a real choice is that whichever they choose it is out of a desire not enforced necessity. That puts recovery in a whole new light for them and makes far easier to accept.
Michael O'Neal, LCDC-ADC III is the author of "I Just Want To Be Normal"-The Renova Method available through ABE Books and Amazon (Kindle and paperback versions).