Would it be better to ask people struggling with addiction which form of help would be more beneficial to them? A recent study was based on the premise that asking substance abusers what sort of help they want when it comes to dealing with alcoholism.
A total of 168 homeless people in Seattle suffering from alcohol-use disorder were used to complete the study.
Through a randomized controlled trial, it was found that people working on getting over their addiction were more likely to be successful with compassionate help.
The lead author of this study Susan Collins, the co-director of Harm Reduction Research and Treatment Centre and a psychiatry and behavioral sciences associate professor at the University of Washington says that people naturally know how to take care of themselves.
With proper support, people looking to change their lifestyle would have an easier time sticking to their goal and this can only result in more realistic and sustainable goals.
The harm-reduction treatment is effective in helping substance abusers improve their lives. The treatment works not only to encourage safe drug use but also support those looking to stop drug abuse altogether. The goal here is to help substance abusers improve their lives through support and encouragement.
Within the 3 months study period, significant improvements were recorded. Alcohol-use went down by 66%, alcohol-related problems reduced by 71% and best of all, positive urine tests for alcohol use went down by 20%. This is despite the fact that the treatment did not push for alcohol abstinence.
According to Collins, this is the first of a randomized and controlled type of study that focused on people suffering from an alcohol-use disorder. The study was designed with the help of a community advisory board made up of management, staff and local members of an Emergency Service Centre in support of permanent housing in the 1811 Eastlake region.
Suggestions from 50 people with vast experience dealing with drug-use disorder and homelessness were used as the basis of this study. Of all the people interviewed for the program, 94% were in support of a harm-reduction program as opposed to an abstinence program.
In the course of the study, the researches and participants met consecutively for 3 weeks. Thereafter, meetings were held once a month for a total of three months. During the treatment sessions, the participants were continually asked: “What do you want to see happening in your life” as opposed to being told to change their drinking habit.
For this study, the participants created their success metrics. Some participants wanted to experience fewer seizers and blackouts while others wanted to feel better about themselves. It was entirely up to each member of the study to decide the results they want to see by the end of the study.
Collins said that in an earlier study, 5 % of participants wanted to stay sober. However, for this study, the goals were completely different. There are those who wanted to reconnect with their children and others wanted to be free to engage in meaningful activities. The percentages, in this case, are higher because participants had more personalized reasons for wanting to stay sober or change their ways as far as alcohol use was concerned.
Aside from setting goals, the participants also brainstormed on ways they can stay safe even when drinking. Tried and tested strategies such as incorporating vitamin B-Complex supplements in their diet and eating before drinking were discussed. Collins pointed out that most of the time, people who drink forget to eat and this only leads to poor health. Severe alcohol use also leaches essential nutrients from the body and this can have an adverse effect on the health of the person concerned.
Researchers feel that similar studies in the future would be of great help especially if they could focus on the long-term effects and not just the short-term ones. In the present, Collins and her team are conducting training on the harm-reduction program in different parts of the state including, Moses Lake, Bellingham, and Everett.
Since the study was a success, the hope is that with more training, more people struggling with alcohol addiction will get the help they desperately need when taking this painful and often discouraging path towards sobriety and improved quality of life.