Alcohol harm reduction sometimes leads right back to addictive drinking and is why alcohol rehab Washington facilities prefer an abstinence-based approach.

Is Alcohol Harm Reduction a Myth?

When speaking about certain topics regarding addiction and recovery, you can expect to create a fair bit of controversy. One of the more controversial topics is that of alcohol harm reduction. This theory, which many apply to other substances as well, holds that any reduction in use ultimately yields positive results. While most would not argue that point, the argument stems from whether alcoholics and addicts can ever use casually once they become addicted. When providing alcohol rehab Washington addiction treatment centers tend to prefer an abstinence-based approach.

Since alcohol addiction treatment requires abstinence, those who wish to try alcohol harm reduction will generally refrain from seeking professional help. Those who wish to know more about harm reduction before making this decision too hastily should find the following discussion quite useful.

What is Alcohol Harm Reduction?

First of all, alcohol harm reduction actually incorporates a wide range of approaches to reducing the harm caused by drinking. In fact, many harm reductionists would gladly accept abstinence as a part of the overall spectrum of harm reduction strategies. When many think of harm reduction, however, they think primarily of moderation. For these individuals, the goal is to drink normally or even just less disastrously.

Some harm reductionists believe that alcohol harm reduction in any form, including moderation, will eventually lead to abstinence. Allowing alcoholics to drink in moderation is what they would refer to as “meeting them where they’re at.” In other words, those who are not ready for abstinence may continue drinking for a time, weaning off until they are ready to put the drink aside for good.

Those who take this approach may incorporate tools used by abstinence-based treatment centers. For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy involves a great deal of goal-setting. Harm reductionists are not simply trying to get away with continued drinking, but in most cases are setting a lifetime goal to avoid drinking or using drugs the way they did in previous years. By incorporating therapeutic support into their approach, they intend to raise their chances of success.

This is a wise gambit, although alcohol harm reduction is still risky unless the reductionist is truly ready to undergo a major life change. When offering alcohol rehab Washington facilities must be able to offer this type of transformation through their abstinence-based approach.

The Virtues of Full Abstinence

Substance users who consider themselves “true” addicts or alcoholics may find alcohol harm reduction difficult—if not impossible—to achieve. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines alcohol use disorder as a condition in which the drinker often wants to cut down but finds it difficult due to strong mental and physical cravings. Those who suffer from alcoholism will often continue drinking no matter how many times they get sick or suffer consequences in their personal and professional lives. Naturally, many experts on addiction disagree with telling such individuals to attempt moderation.

While the NIAAA does claim there to be some health benefits from moderate drinking, they also point to numerous consequences for those who lack self-control. These include divorce, custody battles, DUIs, college sexual assaults, liver disease, fetal alcohol syndrome, academic consequences, unintentional injuries and accidental death. Alcohol harm reduction may lessen the chances of suffering these consequences. On the other hand, those who have proven time and time again that they cannot control their drinking may only set themselves up for future strife if their attempts at moderation should fall short.

Abstinence-based approaches excel at reducing consequences, provided the alcoholic remains sober. A person who drinks in moderation may find themselves engaging in addictive behaviors without warning. It only takes one drink too many to push the right buttons and set them back on the path that initiated the need for alcohol harm reduction in the first place. Those who remain abstinent only need to worry about staying away from the first drink. It may seem like a more extreme measure, but it actually reduces stress in the long run by simplifying the entire process of recovery.

Learning Abstinence in Alcohol Rehab Washington

Aspire Health Network operates several facilities that teach those with alcohol use disorder to remain abstinent. Those who wish to continue drinking because they associate alcohol with happiness will learn new ways of seeking fulfillment. At a facility such as Aspire Washington, alcoholics and addicts engage in numerous therapeutic activities that range from behavioral therapy to outdoor meditation. They will also participate in outside activities that teach them to remain active and have fun even when drinking is not an option.

Those who take to heart the lessons from these activities will stand a much greater chance of maintaining long-term abstinence. Having learned to experience joy and fulfillment without a glass in hand, they will no longer consider moderation the proper approach to alcohol harm reduction. If anything, our clients learn that drinking only impedes their ability to experience the level of pleasure they are able to derive from everyday living.

Alcoholics who wish to forge such a life for themselves should contact us at their earliest convenience. We can get you into our facilities as soon as possible, so that you may see first-hand the benefits of abstinence-based recovery. When seeking alcohol rehab Washington facilities such as ours can provide precisely the care and service that you need.