The purpose of this study is to examine the ways in which harm reduction workers interpret the relationship between harm reduction and 12-step approaches to treatment.
The study draws upon qualitative interviews with 18 staff members from two harm reduction-based substance use treatment programs.
Two central themes emerge from the qualitative data: (1) harm reduction and 12-step approaches can be complementary; and (2) 12-step approaches in high-threshold treatment settings may differ significantly from their original philosophy and intent. A third, much less prominent theme reflects some respondents' skepticism about the capacity of the two approaches to work together given the resistance to harm reduction by some in the 12-step community.
Complementary conceptualizations of harm reduction and 12-step approaches have the potential to broaden the range of options available to people experiencing substance use problems.
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