-
RSS Follow Become a Fan

Recent Posts

OCD Treatment with CBT and ERP
A Work in Progress: Greater Collaboration and Seamless Integration of Healthcare Delivery Services as Provider Networks and Holding Companies Expand.
Opioids: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Billy Joel Believes his Problem Drinking is a Symptom of Depression, Rather than the Other Way Around
Warriors of Dignity

Most Popular Posts

"It's time to stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole in addiction treatment."
OCD Treatment with CBT and ERP
A New Trend: Smoking Alcohol
Music Video Depicts the Hellish Reality of Battling Drug Addiction
How PTSD Therapy Works

Categories

"Do 12 Step Meetings Cause Suicide?"
Addiction and Pain Management
Addiction Industry Review
Addiction Recovery
Addiction Symposiums and Presentations
Alcohol Use Disorders
Alcohol Use Disorders and Age
Alternatives for 12 Step Members Who Experience Harm in the Fellowship
ASAM News
Behavior Modification and Addiction Treatment
Cannabis
Co-Occurring Disorders
CRAFT
Dangerous New Trends
Dis-empowering Substance Users with Ridiculous Mandates
DOGMA: Rigid unchanging beliefs vs. Openness to New Ideas to Promote Change
Empowering Healthcare
Empowering Psychotherapy and Corporate Services - Focused on Addictions, Anxiety, OCD, Trauma &
Empowering Psychotherapy, Addictions and Corporate Services
Empowerment and Wellness
Generous American
Harm Reduction Treatment
healthcare reform
High Rate of Veteran Suicides Linked to PTSD
Implants Being Developed For Military to Monitor and Treat PTSD and Addiction
Ketamine Infusion
MICA and Co-occurring Disorders
New Addiction Research Findings
News in addiction treatment
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Opioid Addiction Epidemic
Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic
PTSD and Suicide
Public Health
Scott W. Stern, Psychotherapist/Empowerment Professional
Steroid Use Disorders
Stigma and Addiction
Substance Use Disorders and Post Traumatic Stress
The Workplace and Mental Health
Treatment Alternatives Need to be Researched for Addictions
TSF (12 Step Facilitation) Treatment
powered by

Articles, News and Blog

Behavior Modification and Addiction Treatment

Why the polarizing of addiction professionals regarding abstinence versus harm reduction therapy is so absurd.



"Why the polarizing of addiction professionals regarding abstinence versus harm reduction therapy is so absurd."

--by Scott W. Stern, Psychotherapist/Empowerment Professional

Focused on Addictions, Anxiety, OCD, Trauma & PTSD

Private and Corporate Services 

During the past 20 years I've been in practice, I have found that all addiction treatments are, in fact, some form of harm reduction. We've yet to find an infallible treatment for addictions and substance use disorders. 

However, the change in the DSM terminology is very significant. It differentiates diagnoses of substance abuse and chemical dependency from it's evolved diagnosis of substance use disorder - mild, moderate or severe. Those with severe diagnoses (co-morbidity involving diabetes, liver damage, severe psychiatric conditions, dementia, legal, etc) would certainly be appropriate candidates for abstinence over moderation. But as I see it, at the end of the day, from moderation to abstinence it's all harm reduction.

For every patient who repeatedly relapses and is referred to the "higher level of care," this, too, is about harm reduction. We've learned how poor the success rates are at inpatient facilities that practice abstinence-only 12-step model approaches. Without guarantees, this too is a harm reduction approach.

In this regard, I believe the term "harm reduction" is obsolete. It is a "given" in any treatment to practice some form of harm reduction. The professional who believes relapse prevention techniques and behavior modification are not a form of harm reduction is terribly misinformed. Even the Hippocratic oath clearly states "Do no harm."

But I will state for the record, I believe more substance users will be attracted to treatment facilities that are not abstinence-only, where clients' lives will be saved by being medically monitored by trained professionals. Once stabilized, every patient--regardless of their clinical needs, has the right to have reasonable access and education regarding current evidence-based treatment.

Ultimately, it is the patient's right to be empowered to make choices regarding his or her own health and treatment. Unfortunately, the polarizing of professionals who see harm reduction and abstinence as opposing treatment models often do not empower clients with education of all current treatment options for substance use disorders.

This is a serious bias in our field that dis-empowers patients ("knowledge is power"), with potential to cause more harm to those substance users at risk.