Kate's Blog

Why Moderation Is More Restrictive Than Sobriety

For a long time I didn’t want to quit drinking completely.

The idea of total sobriety felt very restrictive to me.

I was certain that if I could just find a way to control my drinking and “moderate properly”, I’d be happy.

Back then, what I didn’t realise is that moderation is actually more restrictive than quitting completely.

Don’t believe me? I explain all in this week’s video.

Key points

Making assumptions

It makes sense that we assume sobriety is depriving, because it’s about cutting something out. It seems as if moderation offers more freedom and the best of both worlds. However, not only does cutting down rarely work, it actually creates a more restrictive way of life than sobriety does.

The moderation fishbowl

Picture yourself inside a fishbowl, but also under the sea. Because you can see through the glass to the rest of the ocean, you don’t recognise that you’re limited by the bowl around you. You think you’ve got the freedom of the ocean… but you haven’t.

Why moderation is more restrictive

When you’re trying to moderate, you’re restricted as to how you live your life. You need to make sure you get your fix of alcohol (so you can be “happy”), but then you need to try to control your intake. Your world revolves around when and where you’ll have your next drink, and whether it’s just the one, or two… or more. This isn’t freedom!

Just imagine…

What if you could drive home from work, knowing that you don’t need to worry about whether or not you’ve got enough wine in the fridge because you’ve figured out another way to relax? Imagine going on date night and having a great time, no matter what liquid is in your glass. How freeing would that be?

Looking for help and support to break out of the moderation trap? My Getting Unstuck course will help you find your freedom. Click here for more details about the next class.

Hi, I'm Kate

I founded The Sober School to show you there’s another way out of your shame that doesn’t involve AA or rehab. 


62 responses

    1. I love this analogy Kate & it’s so true! Thanks for sharing it as it’s a great reminder that moderation doesn’t give freedom at all!

    2. Hell Kate
      I love watching your videos. Especially the locations you are in….beautiful.
      In 2016 my Mum died on Mother’s Day and I remember I got so drunk it took three days to recover. I immediately went sober and did two and half years. I thought I had it under control and thought lesson learnt I know how to drink in moderation. One glass that would be nice….how wrong was I? It became just as you said Kate. I ended back in the fish bowl and in a worst situation.
      Iam now into my eighth week and my mind set is so strong. I will not drink again….Iam 64 next month and I want to see my grandchildren grow into young adults. It makes me feel ashamed to think how alcohol controlled my life and made my mental and physical health feel so awfully low.
      I feel a thrill when I see your email in my inbox because I know you will talk so much sense and it is like you are talking about me!
      Thank you Kate

      1. Thanks Ruth and what better reason to be clear headed and present than to watch your grandchildren blossom ❤️

    3. Moderation is not a good idea.
      Sobriety is the only way.
      All for the reasons mentioning in your talk. I totally agree.
      Moderation only leads you back to drinking alcohol daily.
      Most alcoholics can’t do moderation.
      That’s what I truly have seen happen with me and others. It’ll just become another disappointing effort.

  1. Mmm just cannot imagine life without drink but I’m willing to give it a go for a couple of months fingers crossed

      1. Just returned from an AF holiday where most of my family were drinking. Feel so pleased that I didn’t slip up

          1. At beginning of 3rd week alcohol free and have been feeling weird sense of liberation in recent days. Hoping to stay in this frame of mind and not be tempted into “moderation “, which I know from experience would mean endless and exhausting negotiations with myself. I’d rather try to concentrate on other things – everything Kate says makes sense to me right now.

          2. Congratulations Maria and I promise you that feeling of liberation gets better and better. Sobriety delivers everything that alcohol promised (and more)!

    1. This is exactly how I was in December 2021
      I did Kate’s course , which provided great inside into how addictive alcohol is .The course , the group the whole experience changed my thinking . I haven’t had a drink since 1st January 2022. I feel such freedom , I have more energy and feel truly present .I have times when I really need to drawn on my ‘sober tools’ including going back over the course . But it’s so worth it .

    2. I honestly didn’t think I could cope without my daily bottle of wine, but I took the plunge, after a day when I had two bottles, and haven’t drunk for two months now. I feel about 20 years younger and so much happier. It’s the enemy, it really is. Don’t mean to over-dramatise, but it’s not our friend. Xxxxxx

  2. I’ve been sober for almost 4years now but still love watching your videos. The fishbowl analogy is brilliant….and so true

    1. Been AF since your April 2021 course. If moderation had worked for me, I never would have needed the course.
      I’m an all or nothing gal!
      It hasn’t been easy but it has been worth it.

      1. Kate, God has blessed you with the ability to say the truth in expressive, meaningful, and knowledgeable nuggets and analogies. Thank you

          1. I have spent my whole life trying and failing to do moderation and feeling like a bad person because of it. Have never thought of it like this. I have just started a programme of steps towards being AF and this is a revelatì. Thank you

    2. I love this analogy Kate & it’s so true! Thanks for sharing it as it’s a great reminder that moderation doesn’t give freedom at all!

  3. I’ve been thinking lately (I’m currently in between jobs), how delicious a nice cold glass of Chardonnay would be. I also remind myself that it would never be just one glass. I would be right back where I was before, feeling guilty, dragged down and chained to that bottle….again. I don’t want that. I bought alcohol free Chardonnay to try. I poured it into a wine glass. It was good, not great, but it made me happy. It reminded me how far I’ve come (3 months sober). I feel great and happy. Now, hopefully I get the job I’m hoping for!! ♥️

  4. This is the truth. Moderation creates a huge body of rules to be penned in by and a narrow path to walk to avoid slipping off the edge…but you always will teeter off. Sobriety takes all the rule following off your shoulders and you just live life purely. No more having to feed the desire but also tame it. Alcohol is a trap.

    1. You are so right , Kate. Moderation takes a lot of energy . I tried to moderate after 6 months AF. I’m going back to sobriety. I want to also say that your list of sober women lead me to a book called “quit like a woman”. She does a good job of exploring the toxicity of alcohol. I recommend it . Thanks for all you do and keep the blogs coming .

      1. Thanks Carole, you might be interested to know that I’ve written a book too “How To Go Alcohol Free” available on Amazon.

    2. The thing about moderation is that there is still the recovery time. Your body knows it is being poisoned no matter how much or how frequently you assault it with ethanol.

  5. Excellent video Kate! Analogy spot on! I was in your July 2021 class. Still working on it. Yes, the damn moderation thing. But I do realize now after trying it that it doesn’t work. It’s a lot of work. Thanks so much Kate!

  6. I can relate totally too to the video. I am starting to withdraw already and am only drinking water and green tea.

  7. What an eye opening analogy! There is no way I’m staying in that fish bowl, I’m getting out in the vast exciting ocean! Thank you Kate for driving home such an important point about moderation.

  8. Was a great analogy. I was one that would try drinking just at weekends which worked for quite a while but then you find you still have some Prosecco left on Sunday. You know that one glass will not be enough so you go an buy some more. You come home from work on the Money, ‘I may as well finish what’s left as it won’t keep until Friday but there only has one glass. Which means you go get another bottle and the cycle goes on until you are drinking every day kidding yourself…

  9. Like this video Kate! I know I can’t drink in moderation otherwise I wouldn’t be looking on your site in the first place! I can’t remember the last time I only had one or two glasses! I always go all out. I’ve started my sobriety journey yesterday!

  10. Very powerful video. Stopped me in my tracks. I’m just about to start a (another) “moderation” trial. I tried one a couple of months ago – lasted a few days but then I swung back to the “I want another glass – I’ll try again tomorrow” mode. My greatest problem is fear. Fear of what I might find on the other side. I thought it was FOMO (what, a hangover?!). I need to be more honest with myself. Thanks Kate.

  11. Kate, you told us in the last week of class we were “free” to drink now but to make no mistake—we would be going back to the misery that brought us to the class in the first place. Of course I had to test that out. I’m alcohol free 200 days tomorrow ONLY because I know now without a shadow of a doubt that a problem drinker becoming a take it or leave it, truly moderate drinker is about as realistic as a roller skating unicorn. Sobriety really is joyful freedom.

    1. This is so true. I have tried weekend drinking only so many times and it has never worked. This time after reading and listening to Kate I have gone completely alcohol free, what a difference and so much easier. Im into my fourth week and never done that before and already feel like a different person. Thanks Kate

  12. Kate, I truly believe you have been blessed with wisdom by God.
    Every video speaks to me.
    This one in particular, right now about moderation- is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before!
    It makes such sense! It’s like wining the lottery!
    Moderation is restriction in disguise and no matter how much I’ve tried, year after year- it’s fails to work!
    I want out of the fishbowl of bondage and into the ocean of life.

  13. Thank you Kate! The blog makes perfect sense. I have known for years that the only way for me to get over drinking is to quit alcohol completely. Now to actually achieve that would be wonderful. Most of the people closest to me do not agree with that quitting completely is possible or even important!
    I am really looking forward the course that begins that begins on July 4! Thanks again for all you do!

  14. Kate – I am so done. No more alcohol, waking up and feeling awful, not remembering how I even got into bed. No more diving into the fish bowl of moderation thinking I can do this in my own. Signing up.

  15. This is the clearest breakdown of a complex topic that I have ever heard.
    The dance between restriction and freedom, fishbowl and ocean, emergency and peacefulness – you paint an unarguable picture of the human condition and offer a safe harbor to those who realize that something has to change. Thank you for this video and all you do.

  16. Oh Kate! You expressed it so well! I see people struggling to moderate, still believing alcohol is the key to relaxing and having a good time. Instead, there is a whole sea of enjoyment awaiting them: ocean-sized freedom that comes with sobriety!

  17. It took me more than 2 years to “get it” Kate. I used to let myself have 1 drink per month for a special occasion. A birthday, an anniversary, Mother’s day – whatever. I was, as I’ve heard you say, putting alcohol on a pedestal and I was starting to look for 2 special days or even 3 per month. I felt drinking sneaking back up on me and I finally decided on Christmas Day 2021 to give total sobriety a go. I have been out of the fishbowl since then and loving the freedom of total sobriety!

  18. I can’t do moderation, I lie to myself, i sneak wine. I made the decision yesterday having had some wine whilst looking after my Grandson, thank god nothing happened, but it could have, our son removed him. Grog is not worth losing my family. My husband and I removed all alcohol. I found this site earlier today and it’s fantastic! Such support, and wonderful advice. Looking onwards and upwards to being AF.

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