Harm reduction and alcohol problems: what is not yet but it can turn out to be
Portugal, a wine producer country, is one of the countries worldwide where alcohol is most consumed. However, is the 5th country that has most reduced consumption in the last 20 years. Data released from the IV National Survey on the Use of Psychoactive Substances in the General Population, Portugal 2016/17, show an increase in alcohol consumption, a decrease in the prevalence of consumption among men and an increase among women. These findings appeal to the need to stop, reflect, innovate and prospect new models of intervention.
Despite the model of HARM REDUCTION (HR) is widely recognized as an essential strategy for intervention among people who use drugs, the same is not true for those who consume alcohol. We have a model fundamentally based on the disease model of alcoholism, geared towards abstinence and a lifestyle change, leaving many people out of health facilities.
What if we include HR for alcohol in treatment facilities?
We need teams capable of integrating and thinking about this approach on a daily basis. Teams that encourage innovative responses within the most formal treatment structures, capable of including consumers, discussing with them alternatives adapted to their different social contexts and needs. Bringing HR into a treatment unit specialized in alcohol-related problems is putting the HR in favor of the National Health Services users.
State of art review on HR goals, guiding principles and formation of a HR team for alcohol problems, to produce guidelines for HR intervention.
To form HR teams, to intervene with alcohol consumers in their different contexts. Teams more articulated with the community, betting on more and better synergies, innovative, human, pragmatic and comprehensive responses. The common goal: alcohol being no longer “the poor relative” of harm reduction in Portugal.