Programs which insist on abstinence as the only way to treat a drug or alcohol problem have never been very successful. AA’s Triennial report that only five percent of new members are still attending meetings at the end of the first year. Drop out rates from abstinence only programs are also notoriously high.
Harm reduction programs such as needle exchange, on the other hand, have a very high client retention rate. This is because harm reduction programs do not impose their own goals on clients. What we learned from needle exchange is that any attempt to impose an agenda on a client is a sure way of insuring that the client does not return. Unconditional acceptance of the client is necessary.
It is withthese expereinces in mind that HAMS was formed. HAMS is a harm reduction program for people who drink alcohol which encourages every positive change. HAMS supports goals of safe drinking, reduced drinking or abstinence from alcohol.
The acronym HAMS stands for “Harm reduction, Abstinence and Moderation Support”. The HAMS web site can be found here: http://hamsnetwork.org