HAMS an Alternative to 12 Step Programs?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, no one specific treatment works for every person addicted to a substance. Although 12 Step programs are one of the most popular community based programs available, there are alternatives for those who do not subscribe to the 12 Step philosophies. One of these is the HAMS harm reduction program. This is an alternative to the traditional 12 Step program for alcohol treatment.
What is HAMS?
HAMS stands for Harm Reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support. Like many Alcoholics Anonymous alternatives, it does not operate off a spiritual principle that God helps you stop drinking. HAMS has a practical approach with moderation and tapering included in its overall support program. The HAMS philosophy is more based in harm reduction and making positive changes than it is total abstinence.
Harm reduction is based off the principles of reducing the negative consequences of engaging in risky behaviors rather than focusing on abstinence. Under harm reduction, the use of alcohol is recognized as part of society and instead of demanding often impractical abstinence it tries to reduce the risks involved in alcoholism and binge drinking. They are not concerned with forcing a person to fit into a program, they are concerned with safety and increasing the well-being of the participants through:
- Community support
- Practical information
- Shared therapy
In the HAM philosophy, you just have to want to change for the better rather than completely stop drinking.
What are the Principles of HAMS?
Like 12 Step programs, there are things that you need to do in order for HAMS to help you. They are called the principles of HAMS. Unlike 12 Step programs, you do not have to keep going through them throughout your life. These principles are:
- Do a harm benefit analysis – what is the cost of drinking compared to the benefit it provides.
- Find a goal – to reduce drinking, drink safely, or to stop drinking completely.
- Learn the risks – find your amount of risk.
- Learn the tools – HAMS provides tools to help reduce or stop drinking,
- Make a plan – plan out how you are going to stop or reduce drinking,
- Set no alcohol times – this resets your drinking habits.
- Learn to cope without it – use the tools to learn to cope.
- Address other issues – is your drinking caused by something else?
- Have fun without alcohol – learn how to do things without drinking.
- Believe in yourself – know that you can accomplish your goal.
- Plan and track your drinking – this identifies problem areas.
- Evaluate your progress honestly – set a time goal and evaluate your progress.
- Practice damage control – find the issues your drinking caused and deal with them,
- If you relapse start again – relapse is not failure,
- Praise yourself – when you succeed give yourself credit.
These principles form the basis of most HAM programs.
Finding Help with HAMS and Other Harm Reduction Programs
You can find a treatment center or other program that uses the HAMS philosophy by calling 1-800-895-1695. We can help you locate a HAMS or harm reduction program near you.