The world has gotten a bit more painful these days what with all that’s gone on globally and locally. There’s more to feel anxious about, the future is a bit tenuous. So it’s not surprising that some would find themselves taking the “edge off” only to become overwhelmed with the additional problem of substance abuse. Here’s a couple of contrasting approaches to substance abuse recovery that’s ripe for discussion.
Harm Reduction, as an approach to recovery from substance abuse, has to do with attempts to reduce the health and safety impact of drug use on drug users, on their families and on society at large.
“The harm reduction approach is founded on the idea that all people are worth saving and are deserving of dignity; that no one deserves to be thought of as a ‘hopeless’ case undeserving of help; that people can benefit from help if it is well-presented, actually useful and offered without judgment, and that treatment success doesn’t have to be defined in all or nothing terms.” However, this model assumes that users can rationalize acceptable behavior and then implement that behavior.
In contrast, the “medical/spiritual disease” model approach, as espoused by 12 groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, consists of abstinence, belief in a “higher power” and adherence to 12 “guiding principles”. This model assumes that the user suffers from an allergy of the body, an “obsession of the mind” coupled with a spiritual sickness that leaves the user unable to make rational choices regarding substance use or social behavior. The solution is a spiritual one.
As a recovered person of 18 years through the 12 step approach, the medical/spiritual description of my condition coupled with the 12 step program of recovery has arrested my disease of addiction and allowed me to live a happy and useful life. With respect to the “Reduction Harm” approach, I can fully attest to the fact that had I been able to make decisions concerning regulating my use of substances based on my concern for others, I would have, I just couldn’t. I needed a power greater than myself to produce the needed behavior change.
For more information on Harm Reduction visit the Harm Reduction Therapy Center
For information on the 12 step approach to substance abuse recovery you can start with Alcoholics Anonymous
For information on substance abuse recovery services in the Northern New Mexico area visit Ayudantes here