This is a painful thing that happens when relating to addicts. People in recovery also have a lot of other people in their lives at varying levels of use/recovery, and and I think having discussions and awareness about this is important.

For a little insight into what gaslighting is, read this article.

Holidays are a hard time for folks who are sober. Here is a vote of love, confidence and courage as we hit the New Year!

Remember others are welcome to submit to this blog, anonymously and by name. Thanks for the feedback people have given – it has helped me realize that this is a vital forum and that people have a lot they want to say. I appreciate hearing people’s experiences even if they are not meant for public consumption, so I am glad for those who have reached out to me.

Harm reduction and addiction

There are some incredible harm reduction organizations out there. For folks unfamiliar with the concept, there is a great overview of the idea behind harm reduction here. This process has also been referred to as harm minimization. The idea is to meet people where they are in their use, practice or suffering, and to attempt to provide safety and relief in baby steps. I first learned of this methodology because of the brilliant organization Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive in DC. Condom distribution is a harm reduction strategy. So is needle exchange. In Philadelphia, where I now live, there is a harm reduction-based organization Prevention Point.

People hold varying opinions on harm reduction as a public health and wellness strategy. While doing some research for another project, I recently stumbled onto this organization, dedicated to harm reduction in treating alcohol addiction. I hadn’t thought much about harm reduction in alcohol abuse. I can think of some ways in which it could work, but some of the greatest harm alcoholism inflicts, besides car accidents, violent incidents, and general health issues, are relationally based – domestic violence, emotional abuse, neglect, poor communication, sexual violence, infidelity (mixed in with dishonesty, confusion, and dangerously lowered inhibitions), boundary violation, etc. To this end, I don’t know how much harm reduction strategies could do unless they really encouraged low-level alcohol content consumption. For those hurt by alcoholics, even the idea of seeing them with a drink can be disturbing.

I am, however, interested in people brave enough to engage these kinds of dialogues. I noticed HAMS (Harm Reduction for Alcohol) had advertised this conference, from November 15-18, 2012 in Portland, OR. It is organizing by the Harm Reduction Coalition based in New York City, a group that also shares regular podcasts such as this one. Interestingly enough I had just heard about Gabor Mate, interviewed on today’s podcast, through my bandmate and best friend who bought a book by the Hungarian man on his work.

Interested in other people’s perspectives and thoughts.

Recovered addicts and being close to those using.

I just had what I think is a pretty sound and viable realization.

For people who used to use, being around a person who is still using is almost like a sanctioned and supplanted way to use yourself. You talk to them, you interact with them – you FEEL drunk being in relationship with them (or high, etc.). A great friend and I once agreed that we were more experience junkies than sex/love/substance addicts. Sometimes addiction is about escape from the mundane, from the painful, from the scary. I have wondered why it is hard for me to pull away from people who have less resolve towards evicting substance use from their lives – but I am now thinking that my own predilection towards engaging personally and closely with folks may be its own addiction.

What keeps going through my head though is the phrase – talking to you makes me feel drunk.

I have never thought of this before.

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