The Controversial ‘Harm Reduction’

Harm reduction is a drug and alcohol counseling term which, I have come to learn, can mean a variety of different things depending on who you are talking to. Harm reduction could mean simply “clean needle exchange”, where i.v. drug users can go to get clean needles for safe delivery of their drugs, and drop off the dirty needles to be properly disposed of. Or it might be a methadone clinic, where they consider methadone to be a less harmful choice than heroin, although I doubt that one completely as methadone is every bit addictive as heroin but 10 times harder and longer to kick. Harm reduction is present in the programs that practice “moderation”, which would include using drugs and/or alcohol with moderation and making less harmful choices, period, but these practitioners/facilities are few and far between. “It’s a political football,” said a doctor friend of mine (one of the few that actually practice harm reduction) and I admire him for going out on a limb with his career, which despite controversy has been very successful. Harm reduction practices are evidence-based, and like 12 step programs, are not for everyone.


Alison’s program is most definitely a 12 step program teaching abstinence, however if your type in ‘harm reduction rehab’ her place comes up. But in fact there are only about 9 real harm reduction rehabs in the whole country- the idea of them is too ‘loaded’, if you’ll pardon the pun. I was always attracted to St Jude who has a campus in upstate New York and is a research facility with after tracking and amazing stats. It is not 12 step and is billed as an ‘accountability’ program, through education and is 90 days. We never went that option but it is an alternative for those looking for something non-traditional.

The bible tells me all things are lawful unto me, provided I don’t fall under the law of any, and that fits with what I lean toward, which is the concept of moderation in all things. As a parent, I thought I gave my daughter a very well rounded and diverse life experience growing up with an emphasis on moderation, which I do believe she practices in general today. I would never dream of telling anyone which recovery concept is right for them but I can give you an idea of what is out there, and you can choose the best fit for yourself.  My personal dream rehab would be a combo of harm reduction, accountability, and holistic healing and metaphysical studies for self healing, where things like homeopathy, astrology,

dowsing, and radionics would be incorporated into treatment, and love and unity would be at the forefront of every lesson.

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