Abstinence or Harm Reduction in Substance Abuse Treatment

Treating drug addiction is a complex endeavor, and there are two common philosophies that could be involved: abstinence or harm reduction.

Many people going through rehab wonder which of the two systems is the best one, which can be difficult to determine since they both have their own pros and cons.

What Does Abstinence Involve?

In an abstinence-based approach, patients have to completely abstain from drugs and alcohol. This is based on the belief that people who become addicted cannot manage their consumption in a way that does not lead to overusing or abusing drugs or alcohol.

And of course, this makes a lot of sense. Even when used in a social context, drugs and alcohol can impair a person’s judgment and make them more likely to act in certain ways they might not when they are sober. As a result, abusing drugs or alcohol is a higher risk because the person doesn’t have a ‘sober’ mindset to know when to stop.

What Does Harm Reduction Involve?

In the harm reduction course of action, the detox process recognizes the fact that complete abstinence is not a valid option for everyone. It aims to reduce the negative consequences of substance abuse through different therapies as a way to help the person struggling to regain control over their own lives, including the ‘side effects of drug abuse:

  • Medical issues that arise from substance abuse
  • Financial difficulties
  • Strained relationships with friends or family members
  • Legal troubles

In some cases, people might not be at a place where they can admit their alcohol or drug consumption is an issue, or that they are addictive. But, they may be willing to accept that their usage of these substances does have an impact on their lives, such as on their relationships with their loved ones. As a result, harm reduction can be a way to get people struggling with substance addiction to begin their treatment and start getting treated.

Which One Is Right for You?

This is a difficult question to answer, and we as people simply work a lot differently. What works for one person might not work for another, even if they have a similar addiction story.

Some people prefer the abstinence approach, as they find it a lot easier to simply cut out these substances entirely and commit to their sobriety. For others, this approach can seem ‘extreme’ especially in the beginning stages of their Rehab South Africa experience.

In any case, going through detox and recovering from substance abuse is very much an individualized process. All the therapies you will go through must take into account who you are as a person, and why you have begun using or abusing a particular substance in the first place.

The most important thing to do, however, is to seek professional help and begin a journey that works best as helping you regain control. Our rehabs in cape town focusses on total abstinence as a long term solution.

Contact rehab cape town today for more treatment advice.

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