There are two approaches to deal with substance use disorder. These are harm reduction and abstinence. However, there has been controversy on what precisely is the difference between the two methods. Let’s delve deeper to understand the difference between harm reduction vs abstinence.
Harm reduction therapy refers to a set of strategies aimed at minimizing the negative consequences that accompany the use of drugs and substances. It focuses on preventing the harm of using the substance but not preventing its use. This concept reduces the health, social, and economic impacts of drug and alcohol abuse.
Likewise, strategies employed to reduce harm include ensuring there is a serene environment for cocaine and heroin use appropriately by availing syringes to reduce contracting HIV/AIDS and reducing the risk of overdose.
Harm reduction therapy offered in dealing with substance use disorder is a practical approach to deal with substance use addiction. It supports the social environment surrounding the patient and reduces disorders such as:
All these substance use disorders get reduced through harm reduction disorder. Harm reduction vs abstinence is part of the solution to a substance use disorder. They work towards helping the individual recover from addictions.
On the other hand, abstinence refers to abstaining from the use of drugs and alcohol completely to eliminate addictions. By abstaining, it implies total avoidance and engagement with the drugs and alcohol to ensure no contact with the individual. It reduces the addictive behavior indefinitely.
Many experts have argued that abstinence as a goal is unworkable and unrealistic, and an individual experiencing addiction to drugs or alcohol cannot experience severe consequences if applying the abstinence approach.
It is a rigid approach to apply to people who are pursuing to overcome addictive behavior from substance and alcohol abuse. Also, some factions in the addiction field have supported harm reduction approach and argued that abstinence is unnecessary, citing that people can move from excessive drinking to moderate drinking.
Due to this, some dichotomy on which approach is best to treat certain addictions and which is not get applied. People trying to recover from substance use disorder need to select either harm reduction therapy or abstinence. The 12-step program requires abstinence while motivational interviewing and outpatient program does not. Treating addiction using either of the approaches can be applied to help the individual recover and gain sobriety.
Harm Reduction vs Abstinence: Choosing the Right One for You
It is good to note that applying the abstinence approach means that the individual has to overcome alcoholism by avoiding alcohol total, which means that they will experience withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms may range from unpleasant to life-threatening. Using the harm reduction approach one does not experience severe withdrawal symptoms since one gradually reduces the alcohol intake amount daily. Therefore one does not experience withdrawal syndrome.
In conclusion, regardless as to which method you choose, taking the first step is always the hardest. First Step Recovery is here to help you. Please call us today at 866.832.6398 and we’ll go over the differences and similarities between harm reduction vs abstinence to figure out the best fit for you!