--Original published at The Core Techs
“At the root of all addiction is pain.” -Anon.
Many people in today’s world struggle with addiction, and as the years go by, drugs seem easier to access. In fact, cases of drug usage and overdosing has actually increased in the past few years. As this effect is increasing, events such as the opioid crisis continue to happen and take more lives every single day. When treating addiction, typically two methods are present: the cold turkey, or slow reduction. These methods are more commonly known as abstinence and the harm reduction model. Abstinence teaches people that they should stop usage immediately and not go back to it at all. It is supposed to completely erase any possibilities. Although this is true, many of us know how hard it is to just drop something and quit. Instead, methods that can make it easier for a person to stop causing harm to themselves is to slowly wane them off it. For example, it is much harder for smokers to quit smoking right away and be completely done with it rather than using nicotine patches or other substances to help them gradually decrease their usage. So, most of us would think “If one method is easier and more effective than the other, why aren’t we using it?” And that is exactly the question to be asked.
In schools, almost everyone has to take some form of sex education. Most schools teach abstinence, meaning that a person should completely avoid sex at all costs. In other rare cases, sex education programs will teach their students the risks of having intercourse, but along with the risks come prevention plans. In this matter, students are aware that they have the option to have sex, but it does come with risks of pregnancy, sexual diseases, physical, social, and mental harm as well. Although this is true, these students are equipped with information that students who practice abstinence are not. Students who choose to perform in sex typically go in without a shield if they were taught abstinence, but students who were taught about protection were often more safe than the other students. The students who were taught protection often go into sex with some form of defense against pregnancy and sexual diseases. Some forms of protection are condoms and different types of birth control. Studies ultimately show that schools who practice abstinence have higher pregnancy rates than those who practice protection and education.
So how do we relate this back to drug abuse? Well, if a person who is told to go “cold turkey,” they may end up having serious withdrawal effects. They will have a much harder time fighting back, and they are more likely to give in to the urges in the end. Despite this, people who choose to slowly wane off drugs by using substitutes are usually better off. They struggle too, but the end results are more conclusive. If someone I loved was struggling with drug abuse, I would tell them to try using the harm reduction model. Therapy and other forms of assistance which recognize a weakness and need for the drugs help many drug abusers. Realizing the problem is the start to the solution. We cannot tell opioid abusers to simply go out and “quit.” It is unimaginably hard. Instead, suggestions such as talk, drug, and other forms of therapy may be of higher quality because it lets the addict know it is okay to struggle and it is okay to be weak. It is also okay to cave in. One cannot give up, but there are easier methods to help someone cope.
Overall, I believe that the harm reduction method is much more effective than the abstinence model. The harm reduction model allows drug users to have a weakness. It allows them to be more human. Abstinence practice often come across as impossible. In fact, statistics show that the abstinence model is much less effective than the harm reduction model. So instead of trying to hide the truth and make life harder, let’s start giving the facts and educating people. Once people can admit they have a problem and they know all about it, it can make quitting that much easier.
Which plan do you think is better, Core Techs?