Harm Reduction or Abstinence — which is better in Addiction Treatment?

Harm Reduction in the UK

Harm reduction aims at reducing the harm that people do to themselves and others from their substance use.

Criticism of Harm Reduction

There are varied opinions over the morality of harm reduction. Some people believe that it condones or promotes drug use, while people who support it say it is realistic, helps keep drug users safe and respects individual choices and freedoms.

What is Abstinence-based Addiction Treatment?

Abstinence is defined as the complete cessation of drug or alcohol use. This strategy has long been heralded as the best and most effective way to defeat addiction.

  • The first tenet is that addiction is an involuntary and primary disease. It is describable and diagnosable.
  • Addiction is a progressive and chronic disease.
  • While this disease cannot be fully cured, it can be managed.
  • While some people are more or less motivated to get addiction treatment, this does not determine the success of the treatment outcome.
  • Since addiction can impact all areas of the individual’s life, holistic treatment that addresses physical, mental, social, and spiritual dimensions is most effective.
  • A successful addiction treatment approach should include the addict being treated with respect and dignity.
  • Addiction should be treated by a team of multi-disciplinary professionals.
  • The primary counsellor is one of the most critical factors of the treatment. He or she should ideally be of a similar demographic as the patient and perhaps a former addict as well. This would promote an environment of self-disclosure, mutual identification, mutual support and cultural understanding.
  • The most effective treatment for addiction as evidenced includes an orientation to 12 Steps (first introduced by Alcoholics Anonymous). These principles include peer support, set expectations, and informal guidance by an experienced group member.

Criticisms of Abstinence-Only Treatments

The most common indictment against abstinence-based addiction recovery approach is their strict adherence to the 12-steps model, which focuses on faith-based addiction treatment.

  1. Can we depend on the individual’s rational choice to seek treatment when his or her judgement is already impaired by substance use?
  2. Denial is a symptom of addiction. Addicts mostly believe they do not have a problem, so why would they seek support for it?

Why You Should Consider Abstinence-based Treatment

Families looking for substance abuse treatment for a loved one must honestly assess the enormity and gravity of the problem.

Addictions UK — Proven Abstinence Treatment

Addictions UK believes that a reduction of a problem and its impact is not as good as the elimination of the problem.

Get Freedom from Addiction!

Contact us to discuss our effective and proven abstinence-based programs.
Together, we can build a new life for you! Tel: 0800 1404044



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We specialise in Detox at Home and Addiction Treatments. We use medically qualified staff located throughout the UK who are supported by accredited councillors.