Should Harm Reduction Approaches to Drug Addiction be Implemented?
Not Possible to Force Addicts to Stop Using
Recovery from any addiction is extremely difficult. Addicts must have a strong personal desire – and resolve – to stop using.
Everyone in the drug addiction field agrees that addicts cannot be ‘talked’ out of addiction.
Addicts also cannot be ‘shamed’ out of their addiction. Addicts cannot (in most cases) be successfully ‘threatened’ out of addiction.
The main reason that harm reduction approaches should be implemented is that these strategies save lives and diminish the likelihood of drug use problems for the individual, their families, and the surrounding community. From Reducing the Harm of Drug Use and Dependence.
“Anybody that’s tried to make somebody stop using drugs knows, that doesn’t work very well. If someone wants to use drugs it is next to impossible to force them to stop using drugs.” CBS News reported heroin overdose deaths in NC rose 584% in the last four years. Vincent said arresting drug users and stigmatizing them doesn’t help them find recovery. See below– Why A Mom Offers A Safe Place for People Struggling With Drug Addiction
Addiction as Public Health Issue
Addiction is a public health issue. Why? Because addiction can negatively affect everyone. Controlling the spread of diseases that affect public health, such as HIV or hepatitis C, is of urgent concern.
If harm reduction for addiction were in a business setting – the solution would be obvious. However, many of our lawmakers still view addiction as a moral failure. Laws in many states reflect that shame and punishment is the correct public policy for addiction. Fighting addiction needs better and more effective public policy.
Addiction Does Not Discriminate Based on Income
Addiction does not discriminate based on income, neighborhood or gender. Executives can be addicts as well as those less financially secure. Harm reduction strategies are essential to implementing effective public health disease prevention efforts.
What is Harm Reduction?
Education, Intervention and Programs. Harm reduction is a range of public health policies designed to reduce the harmful consequences associated with addiction. These policies include needle-exchange programs, methadone maintenance and use of suboxone and naloxone.
Areas that have implemented needle-exchange programs show annual decreases in HIV and Hepatitis C.
Critics of harm reduction believe that taking a pragmatic view to reducing harm from risky or illegal behavior sends a message that the behaviors are acceptable. However, there is evidence that harm reduction approaches greatly reduce morbidity and mortality associated with drug addictions.
For opioid dependence, access to and use of methadone maintenance and suboxone programs are strongly related to decreased mortality, both from natural causes and overdoses.
Reducing Harm to Society from Addiction
The concept of harm reduction began to appear in the early 1980s when healthcare workers started to provide access to clean syringes to people who inject drugs, rather than only trying to promote abstinence.
Ideally, no one would use a needle to inject themselves with illegal drugs. Unfortunately, millions of addicted individuals do just that.
Simple measures such as needle exchanges for addicts are the easiest to implement and have demonstrated excellent results. For example, there has been slow but steady progress in implementing harm reduction programs in response to the HIV epidemic.
GREENSBORO, NC – It’s a tough conversation; an uncomfortable topic. But for Louise Vincent, it’s a conversation and topic she has no choice but to address. Drug addiction. Vincent, herself, struggled with addiction for years. A sickness eating away at her. A sickness which killed her daughter. “It’s the most horrible thing I can imagine and I believe it’s the most horrible thing anyone can imagine,” said Vincent.
Her 19-year-old daughter, Selena, died of a drug overdose while in treatment in March of 2016. Louise, clean for 10 years, said her daughter began struggling as a teenager. “If you could talk away addiction, we would have talked it away,” Vincent said as tears formed in her eyes. “We talked about drugs, we talked about addiction in the family. We talked about everything a mother and daughter can talk about with addiction.”
The facility where Selena spent her final days didn’t have Naloxone, a medication which reverses and prevents drug overdoses. Vincent’s organization strives to provide Naloxone to family members and drug users and has an initiative to provide the medication to all jails and rehab facilities. “Not a day goes by that I don’t get a call from somebody that I have provided Naloxone to or I have provided Naloxone training to that they say thank God I have that.” The goal of harm reduction is to use education, intervention and programs, such as needle exchange to reduce drug-related harm and death. It’s one of the reasons Vincent’s organization relies on a needle exchange program.
Vincent said, “If we don’t keep people healthy and we don’t keep people alive, they can never find recovery.”
Governor Pat McCrory signed HB972 into law, allowing syringe and needle exchange programs. North Carolina became the 33rd state to implement such a program. There is plenty of negative stigma surrounded safe places and needle exchange programs. The Federal Department of Health and Human Services reported needle exchange programs reduce HIV and Hepatitis C transmission, but none of the department’s multiple studies show an increase of drug use due to the program.
Needle exchange and safe places work, according to Vincent, because it allows drug users to build a trust with people, which later leads to them coming back when they are ready to quit.
Arrowhead Lodge Recovery Addiction Recovery Program
We treat addiction, as well as any underlying chronic pain. Our recovery treatment programs are medically supervised by a licensed inter-disciplinary staff.
We treat opioid addiction on two fronts: addiction and chronic pain. A key member of the Arrowhead Lodge Recovery Staff is Dr. Rob Ashby, M.D., Medical Director, Pain Medicine and Addictionologist is our physician. Dr. Ashby is board certified in pain medicine and addiction medicine.
In addition to allopathic medicine, Dr. Ashby has training in alternative medicine from the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts. He is available to Arrowhead Lodge Recovery clients for physical medicine, pain medicine and addiction medicine.
We Help Men to Survive and Thrive in Daily Life, Once They Leave Our Facility
We are not just training our clients how to be sober in a rehab environment. We give men the tools to survive and thrive in daily life once they leave Arrowhead Lodge Recovery. As a result, our clients report happier and healthier lives after they leave our facility; with fewer relapses.
Addiction and Recovery Questions?
For confidential addiction rehab and recovery inquiries, please feel welcome to contact Ken Chance at Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, 888-654-2800.