Turning Over Professional Contempt


“Harm reduction and moderation management became my most recent focus for fear and reaction during a raucous argument and ideological diatribe on social media. The image of a drunken Audrey Hickline colliding with an innocent father and daughter bolstered my will to fight. Then the (not new) news. Audrey had in fact deserted her personally founded and beloved “Moderation Management” support group for the most traditional abstinence model of recovery. Was I to retract my blame of the harm-reduction or moderation-management or was I to look for more damning evidence?

Further (not so new) news- moderation-management is a very small, even insignificant subset in a much larger treatment approach referred to as “harm reduction”. At the core of harm reduction is the idea of meeting the person-in-need where they are without judgment or expectation. The idea of Carl Rogers and Psych 101 surged through my suspicious, even contemptuous mind. In the harm reduction approach, people aren’t “thrown-away” for continued episodes of use or relapse. Instead, recovery is seen as a process along an individual and protracted continuum, directed by each person’s free-will and choice.

When first sober, I honestly despised what I perceived as the arrogance and hierarchical structure of those with extended recovery “lording over” the “new comer”- me. It was with embarrassment that I would identify that I had very few continuously sober days. Humility was difficult, (especially in consideration of my superior insights, intellect and background)… Humility was first a lesson and then a lifestyle.

Selflessness and generosity found new authenticity and depth as I very slowly developed in recovery. Acceptance, surrender, mindfulness, stillness and serenity followed. My first observation of the phenomena of relapse was with surprise and disappointment. Early in sobriety I was sheltered by a community of sober compatriots- using again seemed mutinous. “How could someone betray ‘the cause’ of recovery”, I would naively worry. Then I learned to appreciate the gift of my personal recovery. How much easier it seemed to be for me than others who seemed to struggle. Those who struggle may be the ones who need my/our professional help…

Professionals are not here to proselytize. The addiction treatment field is full of people like me who possess very strong personal experiences and commitments who struggle (more than most) to become objective and accepting of treatment alternatives and innovations. I confess that I have some contempt and some prejudice . As was the case with my addiction to alcohol , my first step was to acknowledge that I had a problem.

Recognizing that we see too few people with a need, achieve recovery, or even relieve their pain, it seems a good time to start the investigation.

Do you share the treatment and/or recovery model “contempt prior to investigation”?

David Lisonbee

Enhanced by Zemanta