‘Abstinence and moderation’

by Anonymous

 

The term ‘abstinence’, for some, may conjure up images of the austere dunce cap and ruler days, while the term moderation might evoke images of aphrodesia and a world of self-mastery. For the Deconstructing Addiction League, we are cautious about the abstinence versus moderation conversation for several reasons. For starters, we do not wish to enter into a debate that simply forces us to choose between one way and the other. Possibilities for action become limited when absolute value judgments are placed on therapeutic endeavors.

Furthermore, we are concerned for the wellbeing of others, and do not wish to give the impression that we have found a cure for ‘addiction’ and can teach others how to use in moderation. For some, the notion that it is possible for them to use in moderation is a death sentence. While for others, with the help of practices of harm reduction and additional support, it may be possible for them to find a balance. Who are we to say what people can or can’t do?

However, there is still a danger in suggesting the possibility that persons can shift from being under the influence of addiction to a life of moderate use. We do not want to put definitive ideas into anyone’s head, but unfortunately we can’t control the outcome or the way our writings are interpreted. Due to the highly volatile nature of this conversation, we have an ethical responsibility to monitor the effects of our perspectives on the lives of people.

For instance, if anything said here or in the other writings, stimulates a craving to use or the desire to switch from a non-drug/alcohol lifestyle back to a life that involves drug/alcohol use, please let us know and we will try to adjust our writings and practices. Everything said and done, or not said and not done has an effect on people’s lives. It is our intention to tread lightly and to provide new ways of working with people around excessive consumption and/or addiction, while being aware of the dangers and reflecting on the outcome of our actions.

It might be easier to briefly describe what it is that we are doing and then invite your reflections. The first project in association with the Deconstructing Addiction League is to develop a community-based resource informed by narrative practice, in order to help persons break from addiction and/or excessive consumption. This group will use an abstinence approach based on the rite of passage metaphor. Although this approach can technically be called an abstinence model, we would prefer to emphasize what we are doing versus what we are not doing. In other words, the maintenance of not using is only one aspect of what we plan to do. Richly describing personal agency, self-care and exploring other pleasures in life, are some of the other dimensions that will be taken up. In short, this resource is for persons who wish to stop their use and re-claim their lives.

We would like to make available on this web resource, some information about harm reduction, but there are some concerns as to how this information might be taken up. If a person is using drugs/alcohol and is trying to minimize the harmful effects of their use, this might be helpful. It is strongly advised that persons breaking their lives from the use of alcohol and other drugs do not read this material. This may seem futile, and some may be incited by the suggestion to not read, but please think about it for a second, why burden yourself with a possible craving?

To situate myself, the writer of this piece, in the context of the abstinence and moderation conversation, I have been abstinent from alcohol and all other mood-altering chemicals for the past year and a half, and I plan on developing the League’s resource around abstinence. For my own protection, I will not include myself any further in the conversations around moderation, and I will not be reading the information about harm reduction, however, I am pleased that practices of harm reduction exist, and I wish everyone the best.

The League is currently developing a method of self-evaluation that will enable people to better understand what is right for them in terms of this conversation. Therapists are encouraged to share their understandings, and familiarize themselves with this conversation if they have not already. Take care, and may you live a beautiful life.

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