Harm reduction is an approach to addiction recovery focused on decreasing the harmful side effects and improving public safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Harm reduction is a public health approach that focuses on mitigating the harmful consequences of drug use, including transmission of infectious disease and prevention of overdose, through provision of care that is intended to be free of stigma and centered on the needs of people who use drugs.” Exclusive Hawaii Rehab believes in supporting individuals struggling with substance use disorder (SUD). The method and belief system used to address substance abuse differs from person to person. However, the care team understands no single treatment approach works for everyone.

What Is Harm Reduction?

According to the previously mentioned article by the CDC, “Harm reduction activities can include provision of sterile syringes, naloxone distribution, fentanyl testing, overdose prevention and education, including safer drug use education, and other activities that can lessen the risk of adverse outcomes associated with using drugs.” Clinicians use harm reduction and psychoeducation to help people better understand their diagnosis, prevent severe side effects, and manage symptoms.

Some of the primary principles of harm reduction include the following:

  • Acknowledging addictive substances as part of the world people live in
  • Reducing harm caused by substance abuse rather than focusing on abstinence
  • Understanding the complexities and reality of substance abuse as a multifaceted issue
  • Prioritizing realistic and achievable recovery goals

Harm reduction is more flexible than abstinence-only treatment models and allows people to seek treatment and support no matter where they are in their recovery journey. Finding ways to decrease the risk of disease, injury, or death gives people more time to make healthier lifestyle choices.

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Harm Reduction Stigmas

Stigmas often stop people from getting the help they need to improve their physical and mental health. Internalizing stigmas may also worsen symptoms and increase substance abuse.

Some people are critical of harm reduction and claim the treatment approach increases harm by doing the following:

  • Encourages substance abuse
  • It avoids addressing complex ethical concerns
  • Increases the risk of multigenerational trauma and substance abuse
  • Raises legal challenges for people in recovery
  • Impacts a person’s ability to function in society

A lack of understanding often causes stigmas and misinformation. People may not know how harm reduction saves lives by reducing overdose deaths and the spread of bloodborne diseases. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Harm reduction plays a significant role in preventing drug-related deaths and increasing access to healthcare, social services, and treatment.” Exclusive Hawaii Rehab reduces stigmas by educating individuals and families about the realities of substance abuse and addiction recovery.

Health Benefits of Harm Reduction

Harm reduction is primarily used to decrease health risks caused by substance abuse. Some of the benefits include a reduced risk of the following:

  • Severe accident or injury while under the influence
  • Overdose
  • Severe or persistent illness
  • Death

Overdose prevention education is an integral part of harm reduction. Clients are given access to higher levels of care and essential social support, reducing the impact of stigmas and other barriers to treatment. Often, people who participate in harm reduction have difficulty recognizing their disorder as affecting their overall well-being. Harm reduction provides clients with a path toward greater self-awareness. Most people use it as a first step toward long-term recovery.

Harm Reduction at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Exclusive Hawaii Rehab prioritizes personalized care using integrative treatment programs. Clients remain in control of their treatment and recovery through every level of care, ensuring more significant engagement. Harm reduction is one way to empower clients by allowing them to make informed decisions about their treatment and general health.

The care team educates clients on the potential effects of substance abuse and how to reduce the risks. Harm reduction does the following:

  • It helps people stay connected to treatment and support services
  • Provides nonjudgmental support
  • Minimizes immediate health risks associated with substance abuse

Clients are shown how to manage their condition effectively even if they cannot abstain entirely. Harm reduction is a necessary first step for some people with chronic substance abuse issues.

Experience True Healing

Our deeply-caring staff and the surrounding natural beauty offer an unparalleled healing experience.

Finding a Safe and Healthy Path Forward

Discovering a safe and healthy path forward allows people to plan for a future of sobriety even if they cannot currently abstain from addictive substances. Taking that first step is a considerable achievement and increases the many health benefits of attending rehabilitation programs. People participating in harm reduction want to feel better and live a more fulfilling life even if they continue to struggle with SUD. Clinicians help clients make small, achievable changes with significant positive outcomes.

Some of the ways harm reduction increases the likelihood of future abstinence include:

  • Facilitating access to lifesaving treatments
  • Increasing engagement in treatment
  • Providing people with an opportunity to explore treatment and recovery

According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “Evidence-based harm reduction strategies minimize negative consequences of drug use.” People in recovery benefit from understanding how substance abuse has impacted their lives and may continue to do so without the support of loved ones. Exclusive Hawaii Rehab uses harm reduction and other treatment approaches to spread information, reduce stigma, and help people find a safe path toward recovery.