Alcohol & Harm Reduction

Alcohol has caused extreme heartache and millions of death since prohibition was lifted in 1932. Yet it’s still glamorized and accepted as stress relief, coping skill, even displayed in fancy bottles out in the open in almost every movie. Fancy houses, offices are not complete without the conversation at the bar. Can you imagine if Marijuana or heroin were displayed that way? I’m not advocating that we do this- I’m simply stating the hypocrisy of how we treat different addicts.

I’ve explored this a few times in my blog, but don’t get me wrong. Other people in pain or who have ANY addiction are not the enemy, neither is the reversing of prohibition. I am an advocate for decriminalization of some drug offenses because I see it as a major setback in the progression of addiction recovery.

All I’m saying is how society and media and funny memes can guide our opinions just the the Netflix show “The Social Dilemma” clearly proved.

We all have stress relievers, but I think we forget that that’s how an addict STARTED, the same as us. They just couldn’t stop at one or two.

The following info is from Shatterproof which has great resources and info on addiction:

Substance Types and Effects: Alcohol

Though alcohol is legal and normalized in our daily lives, it’s important to remember that it’s a drug like any other. It impacts the body in specific ways, can harm your health, and people can develop an addiction to it.

How does alcohol affect the body?

Ethyl alcohol, which is created during the fermentation process, is what causes the intoxicating effects of beverages like beer, wine, and liquor.

Alcohol, like other depressants, slows down the central nervous system. This can lead to feelings of relaxation, confidence, and lowered inhibitions. It can also cause physical reactions like loss of coordination, memory, and the ability to make good decisions.

Excessive drinking is harmful.

The CDC defines excessive drinking as either binge drinking (4-5+ drinks during a single occasion) or heavy drinking (8-15+ drinks per week), and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than age 21. However, excessive drinking alone does not mean that a person has an alcohol use disorder.

How can risks be reduced when drinking alcohol?

  • Never use opioids or benzodiazepines while drinking alcohol—this mixing can increase the risk of fatal overdose
  • Practice moderation, either by choosing drinks with lower levels of alcohol by volume (ABV) or by reducing the number of total drinks you consume
  • Take breaks from alcohol, like Dry January, and use them as an opportunity to evaluate alcohol’s role in your life
  • Stay out of the driver’s seat when you’ve been drinking

What are the signs of an alcohol use disorder?

When someone is misusing alcohol, they might feel like they need to drink, rather than want to drink.

A person with an alcohol use disorder may find themselves drinking far more than their peers in social situations, or drinking heavily alone. Many people who’ve recovered say that they used to frequently blackout from alcohol use, finding themselves unable to remember what they said or did during the time that they were drunk. The situations can be wide-ranging, but the bottom line is this: Once alcohol is interfering with someone’s daily life, it’s time to seek treatment.

How can an alcohol use disorder be treated?

There are effective treatments for alcohol use disorder—and treatment is not limited to luxury rehabs or 28-day residential programs. In fact, effective treatment for alcohol use disorder can start in a primary care doctor’s office, where needs can be assessed and referrals can be made.

It’s important to remember that alcohol withdrawal is a serious medical condition that can be fatal. Patients with severe alcohol use disorders should always talk to a doctor before attempting to quit cold turkey.

Treatments should always be individualized and based on each patient’s needs and goals. Effective treatments include behavioral therapy, support groups, and medications like naltrexone and disulfiram.

So then why isn’t there more support for harm reduction from recovery advocates?

I wasn’t always on favor of it until “suddenly” my son “became” a heroin user. Hetoin is horrible to break free from and now I know that a user isn’t just going to quit when out of clean needles. Harm reduction buys precious time – until they can and will get help.

A great video on Harm reduction

How to suggest harm reduction to loved ones

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Samantha Waters

A unique perspective on the world from a small town girl turned big city nurse. Now a grandmother to 6 gregarious, resplendent boys and 5 endearing, magical girls, she strives the make the world a more understanding, pleasant place to experience this intense thing called life.

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