Are you thinking about trying to moderate your weed usage? Or is staying completely away from marijuana the objective? What going straight edge, no drinking or drugs? That’s how I roll. And I roll that way because I could not and still cannot do mood-altering substances in moderation.
If you do want to learn how to moderate, there are programs that will help you work towards that goal. This is a good thing for one very simple reason: providing more than one way to solve a problem ups the odds of it being solved. As mentioned in the previous article, Alternatives is a moderation-based, outpatient rehab program located in Southern California and run by Dr. Adi Jaffe and Dr. Marc Kern. Hunter R. Slaton interviews these guys in his article, “The Rehab That Teaches You How to Drink Safely.” Alternatives hasn’t been open that long, only since February of 2013, and Kern says that it is one of only three or four clinics in the U.S. to offer moderation-based treatment.
Moderation-based Treatment on the Rise
This situation will change in the future. Creating options other than abstinence-only programs becomes imperative when we consider that only 10% of people who have a substance abuse disorder seek treatment. Such a low percentage of treatment-seekers is blamed, by Jaffe and Kern, mainly on the inefficacy of abstinence-only treatment programs. Kern and Jaffe aim to help the 85% of people doing it on their own through moderation training. This is a noble aim, but is moderation the solution Kern and Jaffe believe it is? Would moderation-based therapy really help those people? These questions aren’t answerable without doing more research. Perhaps all we can say is many people are “not being served by the system,” so it’s worth a try.
What is Moderation Management?
Moderation Management Helps People Moderate Alcohol, not Marijuana
Can the techniques used by Alternatives or Moderation Management help people moderate their marijuana use? Probably. It’s hard to know because moderation-based approaches are fairly new. At the time of Slaton’s interview, Kern and Jaffe could count the number of their present and past clients on two hands as their facility had only been open for four months. Thus far, they have helped clients who were addicted to alcohol, or alcohol in combination with another drug (or drugs), and they were teaching their clients to moderate only their alcohol use: “Alternatives allows its clients to choose alcohol-based moderation as a treatment goal, as part of a two- to six-month program.”
Alternatives Rehab Only Teaches Moderation of Legal Drugs
Choosing to help people moderate alcohol only is nothing more than a legality. Alternatives complies with the law: “One thing Alternatives does not do is help people who want to use cocaine, heroin, or other illegal drugs moderately. The main reason is that the exposure piece of the program—the supervised reintroduction of alcohol—can’t be done with illegal drugs.” We have to keep in mind the fact that long-term client follow-up doesn’t yet exist for Alternatives, but Kern and Jaffe’s alcohol-moderation methods have helped one client to moderate cocaine, Xanax, and alcohol.
How Alternatives Rehab Works
Alternatives rehab program kicks off with one month of total abstinence, no alcohol or drugs. If the patient can handle that, Jaffe and Kern begin the next phase of the treatment: exposure work. This is a treatment often used by psychologists for overcoming phobias or anxiety. It involves “exposing the client to progressively more and more realistic representations of things which are troubling to them.” This is the controversial part of the program. It is through exposure work that alcoholics learn to moderate their alcohol usage by exposing themselves to things that trouble them, namely going to a bar and having a drink.
(The Moderation-based Approach Continued)