Everything in moderation?

Everything in moderation. I hear this sentiment a lot, and it comes up a lot with my clients. For a long time I too sought out guidelines that would tell me exactly how much I could drink so that I could be a "moderate" drinker.

Here's the problem with moderation: it focuses your attention solely on quantity. Moderation is usually all about measurements and numbers and very little else. It's all about data points, and the problem with data, and data alone, is that it rarely reveals the full story.

The problem with data is that it rarely reveals the full story.

It's easy caught up on moderation because most people who want to change their drinking tend to focus on what I call "aftermath" problems: the hangovers and regret that cloud the next day. But if you're using alcohol as a crutch—if you've unconsciously taught your brain that drinking makes a specific situation easier or a part of your life more bearable—then counting drinks will do very little to unwind what your brain has learned.

You have to understand what is driving your desire to drink. Without this information you'll keep going in circles sure that one day you'll pinpoint the magic number. You need to stop focusing on how many glasses of wine you can have and still feel okay, and starting thinking about what makes drinking so appealing in the first place.

You have to understand what is driving your desire to drink.

Whenever I pose this question, it often stops people in their tracks. Not because they think it's a great question, but because they think it is a ridiculous one. Isn't it obvious why drinking is appealing? Who would ever need this explained to them?

But lots of people can benefit from taking the time to really articulate what fuels their desire and outlining why exactly drinking is so appealing. You'd be surprised how different people's answers are.

There's nothing wrong with drinking in moderation. But for many people who want to change how they drink, moderation is an easy place to get stuck. You end up fixating on exact amounts and staying "disciplined" and miss out on the information that will really help you no longer need alcohol as a crutch.