Seatbelts, Harm Reduction, and Enabling

In a perfect world no one would ever exceed the speed limit or engage in reckless driving. In a perfect world no one would ever violate a traffic law or make an error in judgment while driving. In a perfect world there would be no automobile accidents because everyone’s driving would be perfect. However, we do not live in a perfect world. To err is human–and automobile accidents are an inevitable result of human error. It is for this reason that a simple and wonderful little harm reduction device called the seatbelt was invented–a harm reduction device which saves countless lives each year.

Would anyone in their right mind propose that seatbelts are “enablers” of reckless driving? Would we ever propose that the only way to learn good driving habits is to lose life or limb in an automobile accident? Would anyone propose that we must do away with seatbelts because they prevent people from suffering the consequences of their behaviors and keep them from “hitting bottom”?

Of course not! Even proposing such a thing sounds nonsensical!

So how can we treat other obvious harm reduction strategies such as needle exchange as a form of “enabling”? Is a person more likely to quit heroin after contracting AIDS? Hell no!!! Then there is more reason to shoot up than ever before!

Now where did this utterly bizarre notion of “enabling” come from? It is not really present in the AA “Big Book”. It seems rather to be a product of the 12 step treatment industry. The idea seems to be that anything that kept you out of treatment was bad. So the sicker you were the better. Getting better was bad because if you got better then you might not become a life-long AA member. You might even become a moderate drinker.

But getting worse was better–if you lost a leg in a drunk driving accident then it might scare you into treatment where the staff could work at scaring you into attending AA for life.

The people who believe in “enabling theory” seem to buy into the following:

Better is worse

Worse is better

Black is white

White is black

It reminds me of what George Orwell said:

Freedom is slavery

War is peace

Ignorance is strength

Now you know why Hamsters say “Better Is Better!!”

Copyright © 2008, The HAMS Harm Reduction Network


About Kenneth Anderson

Kenneth Anderson is the author of the book How to Change Your Drinking: a Harm Reduction Guide to Alcohol. He is also the founder and CEO of The HAMS Harm Reduction Network.
This entry was posted in alcohol harm reduction, enabling, hams harm reduction network, harm reduction and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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