How Can Harm Reduction Be Used In An Intervention?
When a loved one struggles with addiction, it’s scary and heartbreaking in a way that can never be fully understood by those who don’t experience it. Despite any potential attempts of your loved one to deceive you, you can likely see that the person is struggling even if you don’t understand how the situation got to where it is.
You might feel that things are on a downward spiral, always seeming to lead to more denial, more destruction, and of course, more drugs and alcohol. If your next step is planning an intervention for your friend or family member with qualified professionals, what are some ways you can prepare?
If you’re concerned about a loved one’s drinking, it is important to get help. There are several ways in which you can care for your loved one. One way is to contact an alcohol intervention specialist. An alcohol intervention specialist will be able to help your loved one quit drinking in a healthy way.
Introduction to Harm Reduction
The Harm Reduction Journal describes harm reduction as an umbrella. It includes prevention and treatment aimed at reducing the severity or incidence of negative outcomes from behaviors, even if the behaviors are not completely abandoned.
While harm reduction’s objective is applied in society all the time, such as with life vests or seatbelts, the term harm reduction is usually attributed to drugs and alcohol, or substance use disorders (SUDs).
Specifically, it may refer to intervention services like needle sharing programs, which have been gaining traction in Philadelphia and other cities around the world.
The pressing need for practicality over idealism led to harm reduction. It’s already been about three decades since the opioid crisis began, with three waves to date. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2017 nearly 20 million in the US battled drug or alcohol addiction. Since COVID-19, few dare to claim that the number has decreased.
Harm reduction uses a person-first viewpoint that keeps the person with addiction in the forefront as someone worthy of respect and their own free will. It considers the numbers, too—not just the 20 million and likely rising for whom abstinence is not currently working, but the idea that one more shot at recovery is better than one life lost.
Harm Reduction In An Intervention: Does It Really Fit?
A drug or alcohol intervention must be planned delicately, so seek out professionals who take the time to understand you and your family’s specific circumstances before proceeding. Following are three tips that can help make the intervention as caring, realistic, and effective as possible despite the difficulty of the situation.
- Think of the person’s order of needs: Food, water, and shelter are obviously immediate priorities. People also need to feel safe in their neighborhood and take care of serious mental health issues before focusing on bettering themselves. Where might change be possible for factors that could have contributed to the addiction developing?
- Try to let go of judgment: You might not know how things got so out of control, and perhaps you mourn for the days your loved one was not “lost” to their addiction. However, we can only progress from what is happening in the present. During the intervention, and in any letters to the person, you can mention difficult emotions but try to stick to facts that cannot be easily disputed.
- Consider if abstinence is the only way: A huge part of harm reduction is meeting the person where they are—the only point from which progress is possible. While abstinence is of course the safest and ideal option, it doesn’t work for every individual every time. The person’s willingness to change and the danger and legality of the substance used are just some factors to consider when determining the intended outcome. Asking the person during the intervention is another obvious step, but compromise may be part of the process.
The leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50 is from alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is a treatable disease and can be prevented or treated. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, give us a call at 1-888-972-8513 for a free alcohol intervention specialist in Philadelphia today.