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Tag: addiction recovery

The Role of Harm Reduction in The Addiction Recovery Process

Have you heard about harm reduction strategies? If not, we are going to look at this topic in-depth and educate you about it and how it pertains to addiction treatment. Harm reduction is an established set of ideas and interventions which seek to reduce the negative consequences of drug abuse. It is a public health strategy developed initially for adults with substance abuse problems, specifically for people who weren’t able to engage in abstinence.

What Does Harm Reduction Involve Concerning Addiction?

Harm reduction incorporates a spectrum of different strategies from safer use, to managing abstinence, to meet drug abusers where they are in life and to address the use along with the drug itself. In recent years, harm reduction has been successfully used for sex education in an effort to reduce both teen pregnancy rates and sexually transmitted infections. When the principles of harm reduction are applied to drug use, it is accepted that a continual level of drug abuse in society is unavoidable and it defines clear aims at reducing negative results.

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What Principles are Central to the Practice of Harm Reduction?

Because harm reduction principles demand interventions and guidelines designed to serve drug users specific personal needs and public needs, there’s no commonly accepted definition for implementing the practices. The following principles are what the Harm Reduction Coalition considers key to harm reduction practices:

  • Accepts that illegal drug use is a part of our world and chooses to work to diminish its harmful effects rather than simply overlook them.
  • Do not try to ignore or minimize the real and harmful effects associated with illicit drug use.
  • Understanding drug use is a complicated, multi-faceted problem which encompasses a range of behaviors from severe abuse to total abstinence.
  • Establishes a quality of personal and societal life and well-being. Not necessarily ceasing all drug use as criteria for successful intercessions and strategies.
  • Ensures drug users themselves are the main agents of reducing the harms of their drug abuse seeks to empower users through education and supporting each other.
  • Seeks to establish drug users and those with a history of drug abuse have a “voice” in the creation of programs and strategies to serve them.
  • Calls for the nonjudgmental provision of services and resources to people who use drugs and the communities they live in, in order to assist them in reducing harm.
  • Recognizing that poverty, class, racism, social isolation, past traumas, and social inequalities affect a person’s vulnerability to effectively handle drug-related harm.

What are the Key Harm Reduction Issues?

The Drug Policy Alliance has highlighted the key issues associated with harm reduction strategies and these include:

  • Discrimination against drug users: In order for harm reduction strategies to become effective it’s necessary to end discrimination against drug users. Stigma against drug abusers extends to both recreational and problematic drug use and it requires advocating for compassion and judgement-free approaches to addiction.
  • Drug overdose: For people under 50, accidental drug overdose is the leading cause of death in America. Harm reduction proposes promoting sensible ideas and better policies at state and federal levels to reduce these deaths.
  • Naloxone: This drug is an inexpensive, FDA-approved medication which reverses the effects of an opiate overdose and it has no abuse potential. More people need to have access to the drug to save lives in the event of an overdose situation.
  • Good Samaritan laws: People using illegal opiates could be worried about arrest if they call emergency services when witnessing an overdose. The best way to encourage the saving of lives is to provide immunity from drug violation laws through promoting Good Samaritan laws.
  • Syringe access: Programs that offer sterile syringes to drug abusers can help lower the chances of someone contracting HIV or hepatitis C. Having wider access to sterile syringes could be beneficial by ending policies which criminalize syringe possession and limit sterile syringe distribution.

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How Does Harm Reduction Reduce Prison Time for Drug Abusers?

While it’s impossible to totally ignore drug abusers and to allow the behavior to continue, there’s evidence suggesting addiction harms society, as well as the user. Putting a drug abuser in prison means spending public funding on housing, meals and healthcare. Leaving an addict to continue using drugs in place without treatment resources means dealing with other issues such as:

  • Increase in crime rates
  • Public health problems
  • Increased need for long-term foster care for the children of parent’s with addiction
  • Decreased property values in drug-impacted areas

Harm reduction principles require community support in order to make a drug user safe and to lessen the harmful effects of addiction on its residents.

What are Some Harm Reduction Medications?

There are particular drugs which are considered ideal for use in harm reduction methodologies concerning addiction treatment. Buprenorphine works on the opiate receptors in the brain, the same ones which are activated during heroin use, but it also has a ceiling effect. There are drugs used with medication-assisted treatment such as Suboxone, Subutex, Vivitrol, buprenorphine and naloxone which reduce cravings and withdrawal but not designed for long-term abuse.

Medications containing buprenorphine have been established as effective in helping addicted people stay motivated to become clean. Harm reduction medications are prescribed by specially licensed health care providers and in some cases, people can avoid long-term treatment and be cared for in a doctor’s office.

Naloxone when delivered via shot or nasal spray can block the effects of an opiate overdose. The medication is usually given by an emergency responder such as a paramedic, EMT or police officer. Making naloxone widely available could allow drug users to treat each other in the event of an accidental overdose and it may result in thousands of lives saved.

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A Changing Future for Harm Reduction Principles:

The passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may help change societal views about addiction because as part of the law, addiction treatment is considered “essential services.” Four of the medications used for medication-assisted treatment are included as part of the ACA services for addiction medicine services.

In the meantime, supporters of harm reduction principles could keep pushing for people who have addiction issues to get help for the problem. Our admissions personnel are available to answer questions, provide resources and to show someone how accepting treatment could help them experience the benefits of a sober life.






Seeking Help for Addiction: A Guide for Professionals

For the millions of Americans battling addiction, making the decision to seek help can be a life-changing one. Recovery is a lifelong process, meaning you have to be ready to commit to your decision and all that comes with it. Getting to that point can be stressful enough, but when you also have to think about making sure your career isn’t in jeopardy, it can be overwhelming. Many professionals worry that everything they’ve worked so hard for will crumble if they’re open about their need to seek help, while others are reluctant to take time off to seek treatment for fear that their job won’t be there when they return.

Fortunately, you have rights when it comes to your employment, and there are several things you can do to make this process easier on yourself. From being open about your decision to seek help to knowing what those rights are, it is possible to retain your career even while seeking addiction treatment. Keep reading for the best tips on how to go about it.

Do Some Research

Not only do you need to know what your rights are in regards to the Department of Labor, you also need to familiarize yourself with the rules set forth by your employer. In many cases, if you request time off to seek treatment, your employer cannot discriminate against you or threaten to give your job to someone else. However, there are some exceptions. If you were caught abusing a substance while on the job, your rights may be waived. Do some research and make sure you have all the facts before presenting anything to your employer.


If you lost your job as a result of your addiction, it’s important to stay patient while you look for new employment. This can be a stressful time, so maintaining your mental health is imperative. Look for local programs that pair individuals in recovery with employers, and don’t forget to network. Head to conventions, job fairs, and any other event where you might be able to talk to someone in need of an employee.

Look for Healthy Ways to Cope

Stress, depression, and anxiety can be extremely detrimental to an individual who is in recovery or is attempting to seek treatment. Look for healthy ways to cope with these feelings, such as daily exercise, practicing a hobby, or simply relaxing and doing something you enjoy. Having an outlet will help you stay motivated on your quest to become healthy and sober, and it can be a huge mental health boost as well. To better avoid relapse, it will be critical when returning to work to have a new way of managing work-related stress, which inevitably will come up. Use your time in treatment to find new coping methods so you already have something in your toolbox once you’re back on the job.

Be Open About Your Struggle

Many people who are making the decision to go into recovery have feelings of guilt or shame, but others feel a great sense of relief when they are open about their struggle, which allows them to move forward a little easier. Talk to your friends and family and your employer about your experiences and about the path you want to be on; not only will this help lessen the weight on your shoulders, but it will also help you stay motivated and accountable.

Choosing treatment is a big decision, and it’s important to think hard about the kind you need. Some professionals want a treatment option that allows them to move freely so that they can still go to the office; others prefer an inpatient experience that will help them focus on getting better. Talk to your doctor about what might be best for you.

Why Daily Exercise is Important for Addiction Recovery

Recovering from addiction is one of the most difficult things a person will do in their life. When you become addicted to drugs or alcohol, the abuse rewires the brain to trick the person into thinking they need their substance of choice in order to feel okay. When a person goes through recovery, they have to work on reversing that brain damage while making several changes in both lifestyle and habits. Adding daily exercise to their routines helps people in recovery repair their brain’s communication system while facilitating a sober lifestyle.


Exercise and the Holistic Approach


There are countless options for people looking for addiction recovery. Many popular methods incorporate aspects of holistic healing into their programs. Holistic medicine addresses health problems by observing an individual’s overall physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing. Holistic medicine can be used in conjunction with traditional Western medicine as well as other methodologies of addiction treatment to facilitate total recovery.


Exercise isn’t necessarily a holistic therapy, but it can be used as a part of a holistic approach to your addiction recovery. Adding exercise to their routine can help a person address many of the physical, mental, and emotional imbalances that occur with addictive behavior.


Exercise for Physical Healing


In multiple studies conducted around the world, exercise has been found to reverse damage in the body. In 2018, researchers from the University of Texas UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas reported that regular exercise can reverse years of physical detriment caused by inactivity. Furthermore, they found that exercise can reverse damage to sedentary and aging hearts and help prevent a person’s risk of future heart failure.


Beyond other body tissues, in 2013 researchers reported findings that aerobic exercise can actually correct brain damage caused by drinking alcohol. In the same way that exercise protects against cognitive decline in aging and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, it helps addicts recover by regenerating cerebral tissue. Furthermore, exercise helps to restore balance to the brain’s chemical communication system and neurotransmitters. Exercising releases dopamine, which is the same neurochemical released through general drug and alcohol use. Regular exercise retrains the brain to release dopamine at appropriate levels.


Exercise for Mental Healing


Psychiatrists and doctors almost always recommend adding exercise as a way to help combat mental health struggles, including depression and anxiety — two problems many addicts come across while on their recovery journey. Exercise helps beat feelings of sadness and stress by giving one an outlet while instigating the release of neurotransmitters that ease pain and tension while promoting feelings of positivity. Anger issues are also common with addicts. Exercise gives these people a release for aggression in a safe and healthy manner.


Furthermore, exercise helps people build self-esteem as they grow stronger and more capable in their practice, whatever it is. It gets people to be social and improves health, two things that many addicts struggle with. Finally, it improves mental clarity and intuition, which can be very helpful for self-reflection throughout the rehabilitation process.


Exercise for Emotional and Spiritual Healing


Holistic medicine views people as having both emotional and spiritual bodies as well as their physical and mental ones. The emotional body is connected to one’s past, present, and future emotional experiences. The spiritual is the body’s connection to universal energy (also described as a higher power). Exercise doesn’t necessarily address these two bodies directly, but it can certainly contribute to their well-being.


Exercise is often described as “moving meditation” because it encourages one to be present in the moment. Just like any other type of meditation, moving meditation through exercise has the power to stir up deep seeded emotions from the past. While confronting these emotions isn’t always easy, having them present gives one the opportunity to confront them, forgive, and release the emotions so the person to move on to better things.


Exercise is an important addition to addiction recovery because it helps facilitate holistic healing in a sensible and science-backed manner. It heals the body physically by rebuilding tissue and balancing neurotransmitters. Exercise addresses mental health issues and can rebuild confidence. While exercise doesn’t directly address spiritual and emotional issues, it is a helpful tool when it comes to cultivating gratitude and mindfulness.