3 Common Harm Reduction Myths Debunked

Dr. Frederick Rotger’s wrote a powerful piece for rehabs.com that clearly debunks three commonly accepted myths about harm reduction psychotherapy. Anyone wishing to expand their toolbox for helping others with problematic substance use should read this. Those struggling with problematic substance use will find their options for help are increased by an accurate understanding of this exciting new approach to helping people heal and grow.

Here’s an excerpt:

HRT is Anti-Abstinence: The most prominent of these misconceptions is that HRT is anti-abstinence. Nothing could be further from the truth! While non-use is a highly effective way of reducing the harms associated with substance use, abstinence lies at one end of a continuum of use that results in harm, with the other end being highly harmful use. Therapists who practice HRT are very happy when their clients choose abstinence as a means of addressing issues related to their substance use.

Where HRT therapists differ in their approach from traditional practitioners is that they do not insiston abstinence (or even substance use) being the focus of treatment. Rather, in HRT, and consistent with such empirically-supported approaches as motivational interviewing where clients are the ultimate decision makers about goals, the focus and goals of treatment are decided by the client, not the therapist. HRT therapists are not at all opposed to abstinence, provided that is the goal chosen by the client.


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