An essay by Paul Carr in last weekend's Wall Street Journal which describes how he stopped drinking and what he learned along the way, is a great example of a harm reduction approach to an alcoholic figuring out what he needed to do to get and stay sober and the changes he’s made in his life that have worked so far. He talks about his ‘relationship’ with alcohol and the positive and negative aspects of that relationship leading to the changes that he made in his life.
Many of the comments/responses on the website following the article are disheartening to me because they reflect the gigantic gap in the recovery and treatment community about what elements are helpful for people to get and stay sober. Sadly, there’s an air of arrogance and even contempt from both treatment professionals and those in recovery for this man who found a way that works for him.
Someone like Paul makes my job as an addictions counselor a lot easier by actually telling me what he feels he needs to do, or what he’s willing to change, or what he thinks would work for him. If a counselor treats him with dignity by listening to him with compassion and shows respect for his ideas and choices, it will facilitate the next steps toward a sober path.