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Black and white thinking is a barrier to moderation – Stephanie Chivers

By Posted in Podcast

In this week’s podcast, habit and addiction coach and long-time friend of Club Soda, Stephanie Chivers, addresses a long-burning issue within our community; why some people need to be abstinent and why some people are more suited to moderation. This issue often bubbles up within our Club Soda Facebook group, causing some division. But, as Stephanie explains in her conversation with Club Soda’s Dru below, black and white thinking – one approach is good and the other is bad – is exactly what hinders success for both abstinent and moderate drinkers.

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Who is Stephanie Chivers?

Stephanie is is a qualified Coach and Master Practitioner of NLP. Stephanie specialises in behaviour change and addiction as a 1-1 practitioner and in group work and has facilitated change for many people in many different addictive scenarios. She addressed her own addictive behaviours in her 30s and, as a result of her personal and professional insight, now gets a buzz from guiding others to lead healthy and fulfilling lives beyond the restrictive behaviour and black and white thinking of addiction.

What is black and white thinking and what does it have to do with moderation?

As Stephanie discusses in the podcast, black and white thinking is another way of describing an all-or-nothing mindset towards substance abuse. In this conversation, Stephanie and Dru consider the effect of a restrictive mindset on moderation – can you really be moderate if you believe that abstinence is the only ‘good’ way to behave? Does the trendy idea that alcohol free is the only way forward hinder people who only need to cut down? And how do we know that what works for us is the ‘best way’?

Two important points raised by Stephanie and Dru’s discussion center around personal experience. As much as we understand that we’re passionate about what worked for us and want to share that with others, it’s important that our bias – or perhaps our black and white thinking – doesn’t put others off trying what they feel might work best for them. Our influences, triggers, barriers, and goals are all different. Stephanie says

‘When you give advice or share, use your language carefully. I can share with you what worked for me take from that what you will.’


The other point is that we should not be too all-or-nothing with ourselves. Just because a period of moderation may not have worked out for us in the short term doesn’t mean that it never will. Our lives are full of circumstances that mean that our plans need to change or become more flexible, and so we should also allow ourselves flexibility to see how we feel, amend our strategies so that we can reach our goal, and not allow black and white thinking to derail our intentions. Give it some time. See how you feel. Make another decision.

Other resources from Club Soda

If you want to hear more about moderate drinking, check out our other blogs about moderation.

In the end, the best way to know if moderation will work for you is to try it. Club Soda’s courses about mindful drinking teach you the skills you need to moderate your drinking – sign up today!

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