I feel that HAMS (Harm Reduction, Abstinence, Moderation Support) is, at its core, all about choices. In terms of alcohol, it is about having the right and ability to choose for yourself what your relationship with that substance is going to be.
It is usually meant to be approached by those who may feel that their consumption levels are approaching unmanageable levels. It is at that time when some kind of evaluation is called for by the individual; in terms of taking responsibility for their patterns of use so that their use of alcohol causes the least amount of damage to both themselves and those around them. Like most aspects of life, there are several paths that one may choose.
This is my take on those paths;
1-Harm Reduction- Let’s say that even after realizing that one is clearly consuming a lot of alcohol, way beyond what one may consider social drinking, that you conclude that you want to continue doing so regardless for whatever personal reasons that you may have. You in this case, can still mitigate the harm that you may cause to others and yourself by taking some common sense precautions.
*If you are going to be outside the comfort of your home and out in the public arena, then taking along a legally sober designated driver to end the evening’s festivities is certainly a responsible course of action. In larger cities, taking public transportation can also serve that purpose so long as you are not an obnoxious twit on the bus or train.
*If you are responsible for supporting a family or even just yourself for that matter, you can time your binge drinking for after work hours and allow yourself to pass out with significant time to let
the effects wear off in time to make it back to work the next day in hopefully a productive capacity.
*Always keep in mind that if you find yourself unable to do maintain these bear minimum mature approaches, that you have the choice to then choose one of the other 2 possible paths as described
2-Abstinence-You can choose to refrain from drinking any alcohol whatsoever. Not probably going to be the first choice (Path #3 moderation is likely to be attempted first). This is the path most often taken by those for whom moderation just didn’t seem to work. The reasons why that approach might not work for many folks vary. A few of the reasons that I personally think moderation doesn’t work for some may include the
*The dependent drinking has taken place for a very, very long time (we’re talking many years) and that pattern is in a way “hard wired” into your being. What the exact damage to your body systems are as
a result of abusive and excessive drinking for years are, are still widely debated. From my own personal experience, I know that moderation, though not impossible, is extremely difficult to attain for many who languished in this state for years on end.
*For some, there are indeed some underlying issues that caused them to drink this way for such an extended period of time. Unless those issues are somehow un-rooted and addressed, any attempt at moderation will most likely not succeed. Here’s where the lines get a little fuzzy. For quite a lot of folks, if and when they discover and satisfactorily overcome these causes or issues, then I think that they indeed can return to
social or responsible drinking. Again, I feel that the length of time that they were dependent and the quantities involved very much factor into whether or not this can work even if those issues are resolved.
For those of you who have read “The Freedom to Recover” or some of my blog posts, then you know that I consider “alcoholism” to be a dependency and not a disease. One in which you can at any time make the
choice to end this dependency. Is it easy? Why no, it can for some be an incredibly difficult journey but there are means of help in achieving that goal.
*Again, I’m a firm believer that most people can achieve abstinence on their own through education, self-reflection and goal oriented behavior. Towards that end there are many books, articles, websites, etc… that are specifically oriented in helping those who want to help themselves.
*For those with deep psychological pains or trauma from their past, they may need the help of a therapist to identify and overcome those events. Even here, some can overcome those events on their own.
*Finally there are both on-line and in person support groups to help one achieve and maintain abstinence. Included in this group would be organizations like HAMS, SMART Recovery, SOS, &Lifering just to name a few. More information on all of these groups is easily available
3-Finally there is moderation. Included here would be just simply cutting back to manageable levels of alcohol consumption. Instead of drinking 2 six packs maybe 4 or 5 beers over the course of an evening will still give you that slight lubrication that you seek, keep you feeling in the social loop but not have negative consequences. Perhaps you can keep your big drinking nights limited to days or nights where you have no
immediate responsibilities the next day (Saturday night for example). If you used to drink scotch on the rocks and found yourself getting loopy too quickly, you might want to consider switching to scotch and soda which will slow down the alcohol intake. There are lots of things that you can do and more detailed strategies can be found at the HAMS website at.
Again, this was merely my point of view on the choices that we have in regards to our relationship with
It’s up to the individual to form theirs. The most important thing to remember, however, is that you have choices and nothing is set in stone.
Good luck and cheers (or not) :->