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Harm Reduction

Harm reduction has been a hot topic recently.  While many may conceptualize harm reduction as a reduction in consumption, there are many other types of harm reduction that are worth considering.

Types of Harm Reduction

Harm reduction is an effective alternative for an array of problems in many populations treated in a variety of settings. The idea of harm reduction, as opposed to abstinence, is changing in today's world of treatment and recovery. In the past, harm reduction was typically linked to a reduction in consumption, such as drinking less drinks per day. This method could also be considered for those who vape and have switched over to nicotine free vaping.  Same behavior in a “reduced” capacity.  While these types of harm reduction are still one method of harm reduction, others also exist. Stopping heroin but continuing to smoke marijuana may fit into someone's plan as harm reduction. However, the more you add in potentially abusable alternative substances, the riskier this can become. Many an opioid user have tried to successfully drink. I have seen many more unsuccessful cases of this than successful ones. Needle exchanges are technically a form of harm reduction, as the risk of contracting an STD are reduced. Safe spaces can also be considered harm reduction, as it keeps individuals out of dangerous situations, such as using in a trap house. One final type of harm reduction that is both old and new, is medication- assisted treatment (MAT). Older medication exists, such as methadone or antabuse, while newer medication such as buprenorphine and naltrexone/vivitrol are options that are becoming increasingly popular. How do these methods work with traditional treatment? 

Treatment and Support

If you are planning to try any of these methods, we highly recommend doing so with your doctor and a trained addiction professional in your support team. Treatment professionals can help you determine a plan by considering your options.  They can also help you re-evaluate your plan, what is working, what is not working, and what adjustments need to be made to help you achieve your goals. This plan will include some form of counseling, like cognitive behavioral therapy or motivational interviewing, which are both effective for treating substance use. We also highly recommend getting involved in some form of social support group. This could be as simple as joining group counseling, which your individual counselor can prepare you for and help you transition into. Group counseling is not necessarily abstinence based, though many of them are, but harm reduction groups do exist.  It could also be a 12-step fellowship, such as Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous (MARA). This is a 12-step group where your MAT choices will not have the possibility of being an issue for contention. Whatever you decide to do, we highly recommend you to not embark on this journey alone. Have supportive friends, family, professionals, and others in recovery in your corner.


Independent Recovery

At Independent Recovery, we are here to assist you in creating a comprehensive plan that includes any alternative types of treatment you wish to explore, such as harm reduction, including MAT. If you want to learn more, head on over to our Get Started page for a free consultation.