Harm Reduction: Substance Abuse Treatment

No one plans to develop a reliance on alcohol or other substances.  But too often, before you know it, you can feel out control or, at the very least uncomfortable, with your use.

Abstinence and active participation in 12-step groups is the best choice for some, but it is not the only way to regain control.   For many addressing the problematic use of alcohol and/or other substances through Harm Reduction is the most efficient and effective means of intervention.

Harm Reduction

Harm reduction in substance abuse treatment focuses on the concepts of individual choice and empowerment to create positive change in personal use of and reliance on alcohol and other substances.   Instead of focusing on total abstinence, your therapist will help you focus on reducing the risk and harm that results from your use. While at the same time assisting you to create and implement healthier choices.  This is a client-centered approach – you are seen as the expert in what is going to work for you as opposed to trying to fit into a one-size-fits-all approach of recovery.

During the process you will establish goals, and strategies targeted to reduce your use. For example, some clients choose to limit consumption to the evening hours. Other people have chosen to integrate morning activities (exercise, journal writing) before deciding to use them. As one client stated, “This is a choice I am making”. The process may also consist of us discussing barriers to change, as well as why change is important. Compassion for yourself is a big part of the process, and one that can be hard for many people to implement. So we will also be discussing how to add compassion for yourself, no matter what part of the change process you are in, no matter what your substance use looks like.

If you are uncomfortable with your alcohol or other substance use – help is available.  You are in control and get to decide how you frame your own recovery. The following PeoplePsych therapist specializes in substance abuse and is currently taking new clients, feel free to contact her directly:

Donna Livesey, MSW, LCSW – 312-809-7016 donna@peoplepsych.com
I will help you no matter where you are in the process of changing your use, whether you are contemplating changing your use or ready to take action. Talking honestly about your substance use, in a non-judgmental, supportive environment, can be the key to positive change.

Too many think that the all-or-nothing approach to the only option to treat problematic alcohol of substance use.  This belief too often deters people from seeking help and achieving what they truly want in life.  In truth, there are few shoulds or musts in life or recovery.  We want to assist you determine how to engage in your life purposefully.

We are all unique and experience things differently – therefore no one’s recovery process is the same. Working with a therapist, you have the opportunity to explore your use and recovery plans in a safe non-judgmental space.

While it can sometimes be anxiety-producing to allow yourself to see a therapist, taking the step and choosing to share your story with a trained clinician is a powerful first step. A therapist helps you validate your experiences and feelings – assisting you through your process as you work towards the life experiences and relationships you want to have.

PeoplePsych’s therapists specialize in substance abuse recovery.  Choosing to see someone is a hard step – take time to find the therapist that is right for you.


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