Why and How Harm Reduction Is Saving Lives in Nevada

Harm reduction comes in many forms. At the Harm Reduction Center Las Vegas, and other needle exchanges across the state, it comes in the form of clean needles, hygienic paraphernalia, and a place to drop off used needles. In addition, visitors are encouraged to look into available treatment options and grab a snack for the road. Some people call it “purgatory” while others call it a “saving grace.” For many people living in active addiction, it is the only positive contact they have with people who are not struggling with an addiction disorder. It also offers regular exposure to potential treatment options that help visitors move closer to a place of readiness when it comes to accepting and undergoing treatment.

In fact, every week people come to staff members at Harm Reduction Center Las Vegas looking for information about their options in treatment. And every week, they are given the information they need as well as the reminder that, no matter how things unfold – if they go to treatment, if they do not, if they attempt to get sober and cannot sustain their new life in recovery – they are always welcome back.

Rick Reich, is the program direction at Harm Reduction Center Las Vegas. He tells people who ask for help connecting with treatment: “Whatever happens next, don’t be afraid or too proud to come back here.”

Stages of Change

While many still believe that it is necessary for someone living in addiction to “hit rock bottom” before being able to benefit from treatment, the fact is that there is no such thing as “rock bottom.” Rather, it is a person’s readiness to envision a life in recovery that is needed for treatment to have a positive impact. And for many people, it takes multiple treatments to feel grounded in that place of readiness.

It can also take time to work through each of the stages and get to a point where treatment is the next step. These stages of change include:

  1. Pre-contemplation: This stage is where most people living in addiction are when they have zero interest in identifying their use of substances as problematic or acknowledging that treatment is a necessary solution. They are as far as they can be from envisioning themselves living a life of sobriety.
  2. Contemplation: During this stage, someone may be willing to at least discuss the fact that there is a downside to their use of substances and may even be able to identify how their life could be better without drug or alcohol use, but they are still heavily resistant to the idea of treatment or change.
  3. Preparation: Questions and interest in recovery options define this stage. An individual may start to ask what going to treatment would entail and be open to the possibility of beginning the process of recovery.
  4. Action: At this point, the individual not only enrolls in treatment but takes an active part in their own recovery, paying attention in therapy and treatment sessions and applying what they learn in their life. They will begin to experience the benefits of their treatment at home and in their relationships as well as in their health and wellness.
  5. Maintenance: Stability, abstinence, and an ongoing engagement in some level of treatment as well as involvement with a therapeutic community help to maintain all the new lifestyle changes that were implemented during rehab.

While a lucky few go through these stages in chronological order and never relapse or fall back into active addiction, most will find that they spend a varying amount of time in different stages of change and will sometimes jump back and forth among them multiple times. Because addiction is a disease that is defined by periods of remission and occasional periods of relapse, this is normal and not at all an indication that someone is a “failure” in recovery or that they are somehow “less than” someone else who finds their road to sustained sobriety a smoother road to travel.

What Stage of Readiness Defines Your Experience Today?

Harm reduction facilitates the movement of people in active addiction through the stages of readiness for change. Sometimes it takes a dozen exposures to options for treatment and change before they consider the possibility that it might be the right choice; sometimes it takes a near-death experience due to overdose or losing someone they care about to overdose. Whatever triggers the realization that it is time to get help, harm reduction facilities help to keep people alive until they reach that point, give them the information they need to start their healing process, and provide support should they find themselves back in active addiction again.

Are you ready to take the next step forward in recovery?

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