Harm Reduction In The War On Drugs
The War On Drugs lacks any true harm reduction or help for drug addiction and substance abuse. However, some resources have appeared within its broken views.
Current Harm Reduction Resources For Drug Addiction And Substance Abuse
While the War On Drugs has waged on, often neglectful of finding any solution to drug addiction, there have been some harm reduction warriors to rise up in the hope they can protect and minimize the damage of drug addiction and substance abuse. These few and brave souls have utilized the resources for drug recovery that have been at their disposal until something comes to displace the War On Drugs.
12 Step And Anonymous Programs
The 12 Steps, perhaps the oldest tool for addiction recovery, are a top choice for some individuals seeking freedom from drug addiction and substance abuse. The 12 steps can either be applied by their traditional context of being non-religious, or they can be adapted for a more religious program. Originally started by Alcoholics Anonymous, the twelve steps, twelve step program, and way of life has helped countless addicts beat drug addiction. The Twelve Steps work because they lay out right in front of you the common answers to many of the common questions you will often ask yourself going through substance abuse.
Though some people may find the generalities of addiction that the twelve step program uses ineffective, irrelevant, and a waste of time, the majority of participants that devote themselves to a 12 Step program will swear by that way of life to overcome drug addiction. Though the specific programs vary, a 12 Step group member will likely tell you that a 12 step program “Works if you work it.”
12 Step Programs Currently Offered
AA- Alcoholics Anonymous- First 12 Step group, main focus is alcoholism.
NA- Narcotics Anonymous- Created using AA as guide and reference. Focused on Narcotics but defines alcohol as still a drug and no different than other narcotics.
Al-Anon- 12 Step support group for friends/ families of individual experiencing drug addiction. Acts similarly to a co-dependency group.
CMA- Crystal Methamphetamine Anonymous. This group focuses on the unique challenges that come with crystal meth addiction.
CA- Cocaine anonymous. Specific to people with addiction to cocaine or crack.
There are 12 Step and anonymous programs for any variety of issues. They are not just limited to drug addiction. For a more complete list, Other 12 Step Groups.
SMART Recovery Program
Started in 1992, but not adopting the SMART Recovery name until 1994, this fairly new approach to drug addiction and substance abuse. The methods implored by the SMART Recovery program are based in science and are completely secular in their nature. Individuals that attend SMART Recovery meetings learn various methods that have roots in evidence based addiction treatments.
“SMART Recovery recognizes that participants may be in one or more of various stages of change and that different exercises may be helpful at different stages. 
Precontemplation – At this stage, the participant may not realize that they have a problem.
Contemplation – The participant evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of the addiction by performing a cost/benefit analysis.
Determination/Preparation – The participant completes a Change Plan Worksheet.
Action – The participant seeks out new ways of handling their addiction behavior. This can include self-help, the support of addiction help group or professional guidance.
Maintenance – After a few months, the participant’s behavior has been changed and now seeks to maintain their gains.
Relapse – Although not inevitable, relapses are a normal part of the change cycle and if handled well, can serve a learning experience in overcoming an addiction.
Termination – Once a participant has sustained a long period of change, they may choose to move on with their lives and “graduate” from SMART Recovery.”
Psychology/ Counseling/ Substance Abuse Counselor
This option to help people overcome drug addiction and substance abuse is not that popular among the individuals going through addiction. More often than not, a person in the grips of drug addiction will have false/ flawed perceptions of authority figures, especially if they feel the person is going to get inside of their head. People are often forced to go this route to seek help from substance abuse but the flaw with this method is that the “professionals” are easily outwitted by the person with the drug addiction. This is not to say the psychologist or counselor is not intelligent, but the entity that may have referred the drug addict to their services may not have provided sufficient information or one of many other possibilities. Furthermore, not every substance abuse counselor has first hand experience with drug addiction. Since this may be the case at times, someone dealing with drug addiction may lack the understanding they need from the people they talk to in order to recover.
Online Harm Reduction Communities
Since the internet first grew in popularity, so did using it as a source to find information about drugs. At first, it was vastly populated by sites spreading misinformation that could have, and possibly did, lead to the death or injury of people using drugs. Over the course of time there were a number of sites that established themselves as accurate information resources and promoters of harm reduction. Sites such as Erowid, BlueLight, or even The Shroomery, have helped provide some of the best harm reduction information and drug addiction recovery advice available anywhere. Links to these great resources can be found here.