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Harm Reduction Model

Powerful Essays
Harm reduction is an intervention paradigm that diverges from the traditional abstinence-only therapeutic goal that over 75% of treatment programs in the United States adhere to (Marlatt, Larimar, and Witkiewitz, 2010). As a result, it is able to serve a large population characteristically excluded from addiction treatment. Demarginalization, therapeutic engagement, and an improved quality of life for consumers are objectives that should be substantive enough to motivate both service providers and policy makers to reconsider changing total abstinence and treatment adherence based definitions of success in substance abuse services, high-risk behavioral interventions, and mental health treatment.

The Institute of Medicine, the World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association are among leading public health organizations that have endorsed harm reduction policies in recent years (CDC, 2011). As an alternative intervention paradigm, harm reduction provides treatment services to individuals who are unwilling or unable to adhere to traditional abstinence-based
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137) that emphasizes a personalized approach that centers on meeting the specific needs of the affected individual and their community. Harm reduction facilitates engagement and encourages consumers to interact with treatment providers while they are actively using substances and engaged in high-risk behaviors. Because helping marginalized populations “stay alive and healthy” (Tatarsky and Marlatt, 2010, p.118) is the foremost goal of the movement, offering low-threshold services is considered the foundation for subsequent therapeutic interventions at a point in time when the client is receptive to them. Marlatt, Larimar, and Witkiewitz (2012) have identified eight fundamental principles that characterize harm
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