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Abstinence vs. Harm Reduction

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Abstinence vs. Harm Reduction
“Abstinence Vs. Harm Reduction”

“Drug policy regarding the control of the traditional illicit substances (opiates, cocaine, cannabis) is currently moving through upbeat times in almost all Western countries. Prohibition on the basis of repressive law enforcement not only seems to fail on a large scale, but also to create vast additional costs, problems, and harm for drug consumers, who often find themselves in extreme social, economic, and health conditions” (Fischer 1995: 389). Western countries struggle with the control of drug abuse. America, for example, has been failing with eliminating or reducing the chronic issues of drug abuse and crimes associated with drugs. America’s goal around these problems consistently has been complete abstinence. By providing drug treatment programs, the drug use and abuse is approached with “solutions” that could heal drug-addicted individuals. However, other countries such as Europe and Germany developed an alternative approach called harm reduction. This practice is “aimed at reducing the harms related to drug use --- including the harms caused by harsh drug laws --- without attempting to eliminate drug use per se” (Reinarman and Levine 1997: 345). The harm reduction tactic has shown more success than abstinence in Europe and Germany; America could follow their footsteps. In this essay, I will be discussing the two opposing approaches of abstinence and harm reduction, then explain why I believe harm reduction is the most effective way to provide drug treatment in America. “Complete abstinence from nonmedical drugs has been the goal of most substance abuse treatment in the United States” (MacMaster 2004: 1). With the passing of Harrison Act in 1914, the United States of America begin its regulation on drug use. Policies regarding drug use incorporated the idea of abstinence and prohibition. Then, “the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 mandates abstinence-based drug policy” (MacMaster 2004: 2) that promotes a drug free America.



Bibliography: 1. Evans, David G. "The Arguments Against Illicit Drugs and Harm Reduction." (2009): 1-49.Google Scholar. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <http://www.braha.org/en/interesting-information/1927>. 2. Fischer, Benedikt. "Drugs, Communites, and Harm Reduction in Germany: The New Relevance of Public Health Principles in Local Responses." Journal of Public Health Policy 16.4 (1995): 389-411. JSTOR. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <http://www.jstor.org.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/stable/3342618?&Search=yes&term=harm&term=reduction&list=hide&searchUri=/action/doBasicSearch%3FQuery%3Dharm%2Breduction%26gw%3Djtx%26acc%3Don%26prq%3Ddrug%2Btreatment%2Bprograms%26hp%3D25%26wc%3Don&item=22&ttl=30218&returnArticleService=showFullText>. 3. Levine, Harry G. "Real Opposition, Real Alternatives." Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice. By Craig Reinarman. Regents of the University of California, 1997. 345-66. Print. 4. MacMaster, Samuel A. "Harm Reduction: a New Perspective on Substance Abuse Services." (2004): 1-11. Print. 5. Peele, Stanton. "Hungry for the next Fix: Behind the Relentless, Misguided Search for a Medical Cure for Addiction." (2002): 1-6. Print. 6. Schmidt, Joan, and Elena Williams. "When All Else Fails, Try Harm Reduction." The American Journal of Nursing, 99.10 (1999): 67-70. JSTOR. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <http://www.jstor.org.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/stable/3521922?&Search=yes&term=harm&term=reduction&list=hide&searchUri=/action/doBasicResults%3Fhp%3D25%26la%3D%26wc%3Don%26acc%3Don%26gw%3Djtx%26jcpsi%3D1%26artsi%3D1%26Query%3Dharm%2Breduction%26sbq%3Dharm%2Breduction%26prq%3Ddrug%2Btreatment%2Bprograms%26si%3D26%26jtxsi%3D26&item=31&ttl=30218&returnArticleService=showFullText&>.

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