harm reduction

Harm Reduction Gave Me Control of My Life

There are a ton of self-help slogans that we hold on to during rough times. One of these slogans would be “you can do anything that you put your mind to”.  Another one would be ” the mind is a powerful thing”. I personally believe in these slogans and I worked very hard at applying them to a very controversial form of addiction self-help or addiction therapy called, Harm Reduction and/or Self Detoxification.

Let’s start with Harm Reduction.


I had never heard of this term or form of addiction recovery before until I crossed paths with Dr. Cali Estes, The Addictions Coach. Harm Reduction is a form of addiction recovery were the addict is allowed to use a structured amount of their drug of choice while working to structure their life in a positive way. For some of us addicts this sounds too good to be true, but harm reduction takes a lot of hard work and effort to balance using your drug of choice and repairing your life.

Now, to give you a sneak peak into my past attempts to get my cocaine use in check, let’s start with me getting court ordered to a six month residential rehab that was entrenched in the Twelve Steps. For some addicts trying to recover from addiction this way may have been the perfect situation. But for me, not so much. I was back to using a few days after my release date from the rehab facility. I tried two more times with similar type twelve-step rehabs and was never able to “get clean”. As far as these twelve step facilities were concerned I was failing at addiction recovery.

I went on through a few more years of life feeling like addiction recovery was hopeless until I crossed paths with The Addictions Coach. The first thing I grasped on to was the fact that you can toss the “one size fits all” mentality out of the window when it comes to addiction recovery. We are all different and I had to decide for myself what “clean” looks like for me and me only. I had to find a way to get my drug use and addiction under control and I had to establish what “under control” looked like for me. I had to sort through all the prehistoric teachings from my twelve-step past and decide what works for me. And I decided Harm Reduction was what I was going to try to get my life and the chaos that addiction caused under control.

Dr. Cali Estes and Sober on Demand team evaluated me, my drug use, and how I could apply harm reduction to get my life back under some type of positive structure. At first, the addict in me was thrilled that I was being told that it was ok to continue to use my drug of choice. But as time passed and I learned to stick by the daily usage guidelines that harm reduction required, I started seeing that my life, my self control and my structure were becoming a positive force in my life again. It has been over a decade since I have been able to say that. I no longer binge on cocaine. I no longer disappear for days using cocaine, and I no longer sell my things for drugs and I pay my bills on time.

Do I still struggle at times? Absolutely.

Do I have bad days? I sure do, but my life is in so much better shape than it has ever been and I can thank Sober on Demand for my progress. You can reach out to them any time at 1-800-706-0318 for any and all addiction recovery related issues.

–Paul P., Lansing, MI