Most of what we all see and hear with regard to substance abuse and addiction has a goal of abstinence. A contrasting approach has the sole goal of reducing harm done by people who use drugs and/ or alcohol. This effort can take many different forms. Public health initiatives to provide clean needles to heroin addicts to prevent spread of HIV, are one aspect of Harm Reduction. On an individual basis, an other example is counseling people who either do not want to be clean and sober or do not think they are capable of becoming clean and sober so that they can minimize the harm that would come to them. This can include helping users to set limits on their use in terms of limiting frequency or such safety measures as having a designated driver, having Narcan (Naloxone) available.
The whole concept of using professional resource to help people "abuse substances safely" is controversial. Frankly we at FamilyLight have reservations about it, which are probably more about prejudice than rational thought. We do support public health initiatives for harm reduction. We have no qualms about needle exchanges, for example. Teaching safe drug abuse is a hard concept for us, although thinking about it rationally, we are sure it saves lives.
The point we are making is that the kind of knee-jerk reaction we have to Harm Reduction is not the kind of thinking that should govern policy. We try to be research based and where research fails us, following objective consideration of our fifty years of experience. On this matter, we must admit prejudice clouds our judgment. We strongly encourage that our readers also consider the knowledge and wisdom of the Harm Reduction Coalition.
Addiction (ASAM definition) has almost a self-contradictory relationship with Harm Reduction. One reason why one might choose a harm reduction approach is because a person believes he/ she cannot become clean and sober. But that sounds like a person who is addicted. If so, it seems unlikely that any genuine addict would be able to control use on any meaningful way. Some safety measures can be taught.
We invite people who advocate for harm reduction will use this website to present their views.
Please read our full disclaimer. You are responsible for verifying our information before acting on it.
- Introduction to this page
- Old format guidelines on addiction and substance abuse (still recommended reading)
- New Definition of Addiction (Old Format)
- See related article on Interventions and Interventionists
- See related article on Twelve Step Resources
- See Related article on Twelve Step Alternatives
- See Related article on Christian Recovery
- See Related article on The Destructive Battle over Recovery Methods
- See Related article on History of Differences Over Treatment Resources
- See related article on The Seven Challenges.
- See related article on Motivational Interviewing, Stages of Change, Transtheoretical Model
- See related article on Dr. Lance Dodes (influential at Cedar Ridge Academy)
- See related article on Process Addictions
Navigation helps (this website):
- Return to Topics of Interest -- under Meeting Special Needs
- Return to Issues of Concern -- under Virtual Consultant
- Return to Substance Abuse and Addiction (link page under Virtual Consultant)
Links to relevant information on other websites:
- ASAM Definition of Addiction
- Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
- Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous
- Alcoholics Anonymous -- Official Website
- Alcoholics Anonymous -- Wikipedia Listing
- Frank Buchman -- Founder of Oxford Group
- Oxford Group -- Wikipedia
- Sam Shoemaker -- Wikipedia
- Twelve Steps and Traditions -- With explanation, Official AA
- Twelve Steps (for people with no prior knowledge) -- Wikipedia
Last Updated July 12, 2018