Two articles ago, we noted that are lots and lots of programs, theories, support groups, and so on that have been created in order to help people overcome substance abuse problems. And because of this, because of the smorgasbord of substance abuse treatments, we thought grouping them into categories might be helpful. To this end, we began by sorting them according to their stance on abstinence. Recovery programs are either based on harm reduction and abstinence.
Harm Reduction Versus Abstinence
This division also reflects a controversial real-world dichotomy in the land of rehab and addiction research. The abstinence peeps tell the harm reduction peeps that their method is ineffective at best and life-threatening at worst. The harm reduction lobs that exact accusation back at the abstinence camp. The infighting doesn’t stop at rehab administrators, addiction specialists, and therapists, unfortunately. The beleaguered patients are drawn into the fray as well. Someone with an addiction to weed who wants to moderate rather than quit won’t be welcome in a Marijuana Anonymous meeting.
However, taking one side or another isn’t necessary. This is stating the obvious, but you can try out both approaches. When you want to solve a problem, you usually have to try a few different solutions. Sometimes the first thing you try does the trick, but often it doesn’t. So try moderation first. If that doesn’t work, abstinence can be your backup plan. If that falls through, no worries. Try again. There’s nothing wrong with ping-ponging between approaches until you hit paydirt. If you keep trying, you’ll eventually figure out the best way for you to get to moderation or abstinence. Just keep moving forward.
Image courtesy – thedebtprincess
On this site, we can assist you with the moderation route by telling you how Alternatives teaches it. (Again, it only teaches moderation of alcohol because of legal reasons, but you can apply the same technique to marijuana.) Additionally, you should check out the other non-abstinent groups out there, including Moderation Management and Smart Recovery. These programs all fit under the umbrella term harm reduction, but they probably differ in the way they teach moderation. Again, if one method doesn’t work, you can always move on to the next one.
Image courtesy – activerain.trulia.com
Ok, so how does Alternatives teach moderation? Essentially, they use what’s called exposure work to extinguish the desire to consume alcohol in an immoderate way. Here’s how Dr. Tom Horvath defines exposure work in his article “Exposure Therapy: A New Look at Conquering Cravings”:
“[It is] a technical term in psychotherapy and CBT, is a foundation of treatment for anxiety disorders, PTSD and phobias. In exposure therapy, the client experiences, directly or indirectly, the very thing that’s feared in an effort to learn to gain control of the distress that it causes. The exposure can occur in gradual increments (often referred to as ‘desensitizing’) or all at once (often referred to as ‘flooding’).”
Let’s get clear on how this works with anxiety and phobias. If someone was deathly afraid of cats, and they wanted to use exposure to eliminate that fear, they might start by being in a very large area with one. Staying with the feelings of fear long enough to see them build and then dissipate is the key. When the client feels fear dissipating, he or she is ready for the next level. The next level means that the stimulus is intensified. The person might now stand in a room with two cats. Again, the client must experience the rise and fall of extreme fear to make progress. The process continues in this manner until cats are no longer able to evoke fear in the client.
How can this method help people quit using weed? Check out the next article: Moderating Weed Use Through Extinction to find out.