Half Measures People Try Before Treatment

half measures people try

We often like to try to fix things ourselves before calling a professional for help. We might try to repair a leaky sink or redo a squeaky wooden floor. When an individual is addicted to drugs or alcohol, though, attempting to fix it themselves is not ideal. This idea of self-improvement can result in half measures people try before treatment, that are generally not effective and could be dangerous.

Standing at the Turning Point

The introduction to the 12 steps outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous includes the statement, “Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point.” Just prior to this declaration, the book says, “Without help it is too much for us.” Addiction to drugs or alcohol can take hold of a person and make it very difficult to overcome the disease without that help, without professional treatment.

What is a Half Measure?

When a person does something halfway or only does part of what they need to do, that is known as a half measure. Along with the half effort, there is usually an attitude that doing something that is inadequate is okay. Someone who takes half measures after recognizing their own addiction may only put part of the work in or decide to skip important steps that would help them in recovery.

What People Try

Before seeking treatment, some people will try to “fix” their addiction themselves. They may make half an effort or try a half measure, such as attending a 12-step meeting or two instead of regularly and frequently. When attending a meeting, a half measure would be arriving late or leaving early and not speaking to anyone, making it more of a visit than active participation.

Looking at the steps of the 12-step program, someone who only takes half measures will pick and choose the steps they want to complete. They may also try to reduce their drinking and drug use through willpower, perhaps having only one or two drinks a day instead of their usual amount. Typically, they will find that willpower by itself is not effective. They may even suffer severe withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop on their own.

Generally, when people try these half measures, they are not doing what it takes to understand their addiction. They do not dig deep enough to find the underlying causes of their addiction or to address those causes in an appropriate manner, which often results in a relapse.

Successful Recovery Through Treatment

Even if an individual could be successful in giving up drinking or drug use, that in itself would be a half measure. Stopping that drug or alcohol use is just one part of the overall treatment for addiction as treatment is integral to the long and complex recovery process. Addiction is a chronic disease that disrupts lives. Treatment addresses the needs of the whole person, including finding the underlying causes for the addiction.

Therapy in addiction treatment can help people modify their attitudes and behaviors related to alcohol and drug use. An individual who puts all the work in, as part of an effective treatment program, will be able to better handle stressful situations and better prepared to avoid a potential relapse. Behavioral therapies can include:

  • Motivational enhancement therapy, using strategies to make the most of the individual’s readiness to change their behavior and enter treatment.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy, helping individuals recognize, cope with, and avoid situations in which they’re most likely to drink or use drugs.
  • Family therapy, recognizing that addiction affects the whole family.
  • 12-Step facilitation, individual therapy designed to prepare people to become engaged in 12-Step programs for acceptance, surrender, and active involvement in recovery and recognizing that half measures are not enough.


When you are struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, half measures will not be effective in helping you understand your addiction and avoid relapse in recovery. At BRC Recovery, we help you heal your mind and your body while addressing the underlying issues that lead to your addiction. We bring you real change for your life, with proven treatment options that will empower you to recreate and reclaim your life.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we offer a safe, clean environment so you can continue receiving the highest quality of care. To learn more about our services and to get the help you need, please call BRC Recovery at 1-866-291-2676 to speak to our team.