Harm reduction therapy doesn’t seek to limit or eliminate a person’s drinking or drug use. Instead, it focuses on avoiding the problems that often accompany substance abuse — such as overdose, driving under the influence, and other risky behaviors. By keeping people (including teens) safe from harm as they use, there are fewer tragic consequences. And the person using substances must take greater responsibility for his or her safer use.
Naturally, not everyone is enthusiastic about harm reduction therapy for teens. On one hand, it can in fact save lives by teaching individuals how to prevent more dangerous situations. On the other hand, harm reduction therapy has been considered a “free pass” to participate in teen substance abuse. There’s no right or wrong answer. When used carefully by a trained behavioral health specialist, however, this technique can work in tandem with other substance abuse treatment therapies to limit the dangers of drinking and drug use.
At Safe Landing, we work closely with your teen to determine whether or not this approach could be helpful to your child’s recovery journey. While our ultimate goal is a life free of substance abuse, relapses do happen. In the interim, we want to ensure that your child remains as safe as possible — even in the event of relapse — so he or she can return to the recovery journey.
There are many examples of harm reduction therapy in practice. Some are well known; others may be new to you. All of them are designed to minimize the negative effects of drug or alcohol use, and to ensure the individual’s relative safety while they choose to use.
More and more states are making recreational use of marijuana legal. Current harm reduction efforts seek to deter people from driving or performing other dangerous activities under the influence of marijuana. Meanwhile, the lung damage caused by smoking marijuana has been alleviated by edible THC and vaporizers.
When it comes to alcohol, harm reduction therapy is available for people who wish to limit their drinking, but aren’t ready for teen alcohol rehab. It focuses on periodic abstinence, as well as safer drinking that avoids risky behavior or driving while intoxicated.
People who use stimulants like meth can find harm reduction therapy to help avoid issues like dental problems, sexually transmitted diseases, and poor hygiene. Many former users of heroin and prescription opioids have found a less harmful option in methadone and buprenorphine. When combined with therapy, these medication maintenance programs can be very successful in preventing addiction to much more dangerous drugs. Other well-known harm reduction strategies include offering clean needles for intravenous drug use as a way of preventing the spread of bloodborne illnesses like AIDS. Likewise, more and more medical facilities — and even households — keep naloxone on hand to counteract heroin or opioid overdose.
Safe Landing doesn’t provide harm reduction therapy in isolation. But we believe that, in tandem with a more traditional abstinence-oriented treatment model, harm reduction therapy can be a lifesaving tool. We have a lot more information to share. So, if you’d like to find out more about the ways harm reduction therapy can benefit your teen as part of their individualized recovery plan, please reach out to us. We’re here to give you the answers you need.