Although abstinence is the standard approach associated with drug and alcohol addiction therapy, it is not the only one. Harm reduction therapy offers an alternative for people trying to reduce drinking and drug misuse. It is a modern solution based on the notion of increasing health and well-being and boosting safety without insisting on abrupt and complete cutting backs. Shirley Wantland is the Co-Founder and Principal of Recovery Consultants, LLC, which provides a comprehensive range of recovery and rehabilitation services.
She is committed to supporting and defending those who experience shame and stigma because of addictions. Moreover, Wantland is committed to providing empathetic, non-judgmental treatment to individuals and families dealing with substance use disorders as well as behavioral and mental health challenges.
Abstinence (or “cold turkey”) is the benchmark in the recovery sector for many. Wantland argues that if someone accomplishes anything less, they are generally labeled as a failure, unmotivated, or unwilling, which is just awful. As the proverb says, “as long as there’s a will, there’s a way,” she thinks there is no one “correct” approach to healing. She, therefore, believes that even a small achievement or desire to mend ways goes a long way.
For Wantland, it doesn’t matter how anyone gets there; as long as there’s a commitment, she’ll work and help to the best of her knowledge to figure out the “how.” However, she says that while she’s there to provide guidance through experience and expertise, the decision as to what gets done ultimately rests with the client.
Harm reduction treatment employs a concept based on lowering the intensity of the consequences induced by drug or alcohol abuse. According to Wantland, the goal is not to push the individual to stop using drugs immediately but to work on improving all parts of their life. She goes on to say that harm reduction therapy is based on the understanding that dealing with addiction takes time and that no common treatment pathway works for everyone.
To further explain everything, Wantland claims that by providing harm reduction techniques, clients have the opportunity to acquire something that feels accessible. According to her, one goal of this technique might be to encourage the client to use cannabis instead of heroin. She believes that by doing so, the individual will remain involved in their rehabilitation and continue to make progress toward their goals rather than relapsing as with traditional therapeutic methods.
Most addicts have already felt a great deal of internal and external humiliation. Wantland vehemently disagrees with that and claims that we shouldn’t contribute to their sense of shame over not “doing recovery right” when they are already showing up and making an attempt.
To summarize, Shirley Wantland believes healing and hope can only come through compassion and empathy. Now more than ever, people can benefit significantly from unconventional techniques that are highly personalized and tailored to the distinct dynamics of each individual and family – we are all entirely different from one another.
She’s an inspiring mental health counselor and if you want to know more about her work, check her LinkedIn for details.