Harm Reduction and Moderation Management are terms that are often thought of as controversial in the addictions treatment world.  As the majority of top recovery centers are abstinence based, does Harm Reduction have a place in today's treatment world?

The concept of Harm Reduction with regards to drugs and alcohol represents a philosophy that illicit and inappropriate use of substances is not preventable and emphasis should be on assisting people to use substances in a less problematic way, as opposed to criminalizing it.  Proponents of Harm Reduction with regards to drugs and alcohol see this as a way to protect many from the dangers of illicit use, while critics reject this philosophy, viewing it as fatalistic and dangerous.

Many addictions professionals believe that Harm Reduction may be able to be used with an individual who is encountering difficulties managing his/her use but has not yet met full criteria for a diagnosis of substance dependence.  In these cases, it is possible to begin with thorough psychoeducation on inappropriate or excessive use of substances, moving on to set up a detailed plan which outlines more refined or curtailed use, and closely monitoring the individual's use from that point on.  Harm Reduction does not address the origins of one's use and abuse as does the Disease Model, but instead focuses on the consequences of continued high-risk behavior and aims to lessen these via education and intervention.

The Harm Reduction model is not for or against abstinence, but rather acknowledges that many people openly reject the Disease Model and/or are not yet ready to embrace total abstinence.  By following a Harm Reduction plan, one may be able to slow down the progression of consequences.  In addition, by trying and not succeeding at Harm Reduction, an individual may come to realize, on his or her own accord, that abstaining from any and all use is the only way to ensure health, peace and serenity in life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, please call New Hope Recovery Center for help (877-707-4673). We specialize in treating people with substance abuse and addiction problems, we also specialize in working with family or friends of loved ones that are struggling with addictions.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center