Perhaps the most familiar form of addiction treatment, of helping those with a drug or alcohol dependency heal and recovery, is abstinence-based programs. These include the familiar 12 step programs springing from the approach of Alcoholic Anonymous and adapted to a wide variety of substance use disorders and process addictions. However, another option has shown itself to be effective for those who aren’t seeing the progress they desire in traditional treatment. The approach is called harm reduction therapy.
Our harm reduction program at Insight Recovery Centers is for people who are unwilling or unable to make changes to their substance use but do not like the problems it is causing in their lives. Many find that traditional treatment is just not the “right fit” and have not felt that 12-step meetings worked for them. They have often felt uncomfortable with the concepts of powerlessness and spirituality that many support groups follow. The label of alcoholic or addict does not seem to fit for them. Harm reduction is an approach designed to meet individuals where they are and help them achieve their goals rather than impose some outside rubric of what is healthy.
What Is Harm Reduction?
When using harm reduction as the lens to view treatment for substance use disorder or addiction, we recognize that sobriety is not how we define success. Rather, the goal is to lead a balanced life, allowing the individual to achieve their goals and exert control. While abstinence-only approaches work for many, they do not work for all. For those who fall outside the abstinence paradigm, harm reduction is a way to improve one’s health.