What is Harm Reduction?
Harm reduction is an alternative treatment method for addiction. Harm reduction theorizes that reducing the negative consequences of addiction is more beneficial than doing nothing. Harm reduction proponents believe that not everyone can abstain from alcohol and drugs without alternative interventions, at least in the beginning of recovery.
Common examples of harm reduction are Methadone and Suboxone for the treatment of opiate dependency. Naltrexone for the treatment of alcoholism is another example of harm reduction. Naltrexone gradually reduces alcohol effects and cravings if taken as prescribed.
Nicotine replacement therapy such as patches, lozenges, and gum are also examples of harm reduction. Nicotine does not have any health benefits, but wearing a patch to avoid smoking cigarettes is an example of harm reduction because this lowers the risk of cancers and and other health problems.
Drug and alcohol reduction is the primary benefit of harm reduction. Another benefit is decreased consequences of the substance use. For example, addiction is often a catalyst for incarceration, homelessness, chronic illnesses, unemployment, and poverty. Harm reduction advocates believe that not everyone can abruptly stop using, attend 12 step meetings, and begin living a sober life. Recovery is a process that takes time. Harm reduction allows an addict to take medication to cope with withdrawals, cravings, and continued use potential.
Harm reduction can be beneficial for people with chronic illnesses and lengthy histories of relapse. However, abstinence based treatment methods are still the only way to be completely free from chemicals. Abstinence based recovery is the primary goal for a lot of people who begin with a harm reduction program.
Using harm reduction as a way to get through the initial weeks or months of recovery may be helpful for some people. If you have tried everything and still cannot seem to gain sobriety, harm reduction may be a good step for you.
Harm reduction interventions may help you in the beginning, but abstinence based sobriety offers a different kind of recovery. If you are taking Methadone, you will need to get up everyday, go to the clinic, and take your dose. This may not be possible if you have family or work obligations. With abstinence based sobriety, you do attend meetings, counseling, or support groups, but if you can’t attend one meeting, you will not start withdrawal. Unfortunately, if you miss one dose of Methadone, you may start experiencing withdrawals within a few hours.
Deciding which intervention is right for you is important. Hired Power is a recovery services company providing guidance and direction every step of the way. Call us today for information on how we can help your family bring recovery home: 714-559-3919