Many different approaches may be taken when going through recovery. The path you choose is ultimately in your hands, and it can help to know about your options. Harm reduction is one approach to recovery that is not utilized as regularly as others but can be a great choice for many people.

What Is Harm Reduction?

Many treatments and recovery centers for individuals struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) follow an abstinence approach. This method requires individuals who are seeking treatment to remain sober while receiving support to recover.

The method of harm reduction is different. It is derived from the idea of tapering off substances and helping clients adjust to a sober lifestyle. Therefore, people can come to recovery and step out of access to substances while gaining skills to help them maintain sobriety in their life outside of treatment.

How Does Harm Reduction Work?

Harm reduction methodologies take a different approach to helping individuals overcome the effects of SUD. Since there is no harsh cut-off from the substances, clients can slowly go through detox and adjust to their physical and emotional state, and the substance slowly dissipates in amounts used. This can be challenging for some individuals, as there is no hard cut-off from substance use. For others, it allows them to adjust to the lack of presence of substances and eliminates the potential withdrawal effects.

This approach can be thought of as an ombre pattern. In this design, the color slowly alters to another. With harm reduction, the use of substance use slowly dissipates rather than immediately cuts off. Understanding this image can help you further picture this process and how the period of detox may work with this approach.

Harm Reduction Applications

This approach can be applied to any form of addiction. It is commonly utilized with SUD by slowly lowering the number of substances used. With this approach, you will set goals with your treatment team each week to slowly reduce your reliance upon the substances you struggle with. Before you know it, you will not be using substances at all and will be working to establish skills to maintain sobriety.

Each point you reach where you successfully engage in a lowered amount of substance use is a rewarding moment. You can begin to see that you can diminish the amount of use over time, increasing the confidence in your abilities to move forward without any substance use at all. Most of the hardships in the initial detox stage stem from a lack of confidence in your ability to refrain from use and move forward without it. By building up this level of confidence, you can feel comfortable moving forward in the treatment process.

Reasons for Harm Reduction

Some individuals may fear seeking treatment because they feel that they are unable to fully cut off from substance use. The approach of fully detoxing immediately can trigger this fear response and lead individuals to avoid seeking help for SUD. Having the approach of harm reduction can help this group of people feel more comfortable in seeking services and moving through recovery at their rate. This practice helps to create an individualized approach to treatment and create a plan that is best for the individual needs of each of our clients.

The goal of recovery services is not only to help individuals reach a state of sobriety but create an environment where they feel comfortable asking for help. Offering this approach is a great way to reach out to individuals who need help but fear the potential treatment programs that are commonly in place. By assessing our client’s individual needs, we can create a plan that allows them to succeed in the way that is most applicable and efficient for them.

Is the Harm Reduction Approach Right for You?

Determining the right approach to detox can be challenging. If you feel that harm reduction may be beneficial to your recovery needs, contact your treatment team and discuss the potential options available. It is important to keep in mind that harm reduction is only a temporary solution to lower rates of substance use but still requires long-term treatment to maintain your ability to continue sobriety. This is not an excuse to continue using substances but rather a different approach to help people feel more comfortable in seeking services.

Before making this decision, you should learn how to prepare for detox and know what to expect going into this process. Engaging in detox requires both physical and mental preparation. Discussing the best approach to detox with your treatment team beforehand can allow you to properly prepare for this stage of recovery. Don’t be afraid to seek help out of fear of your abilities to complete recovery. Allow us to help you find the proper resources to support your success moving forward. 

Harm reduction is not a regular approach to recovery from substance use disorder. However, it can be extremely beneficial in some cases. Understanding how harm reduction works and what the benefits of this approach are can help you determine if this practice is right for you. If you fear seeking services for your substance use disorder out of your feeling of inability to maintain sobriety, this approach may be useful in slowly adjusting to the treatment lifestyle. If you feel this approach may be a good option for you, reach out to your treatment team to discuss available options. To learn more about harm reduction, reach out to Dream Recovery at (657) 216-7218.

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