Essay on Getting A Grip: From Prohibition to Harm Reduction

Published: 2021-07-10 22:02:47
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Vanderbilt University
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Research paper
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Legally, there exist two essential policies fundamental for mitigating alcohol issues which include harm reduction and prohibition. Harm reduction is perceived from a public point of view and seeks to reduce possible dangers of drug misuse and highlight on drug policies in the society. Harm reduction is a broad approach to drug misuse, and drug policy and its involvement led to the existing misunderstanding as a drug legalization tool in the society. Harm reduction has a reduction to several basic rules; according to Marlatt & Witkiewitz (2010), the theory behind harm reduction is that it has never been realized and will never lead to a drug-free society." The harm reduction policy assesses the logical results to the harm that drug use and the existing drug policies cause. This approach is said to be "not what is nice, and it's what is effective." It also admits that it is not the ultimate solution to the issue of alcoholism and many other involvements may work. At the same time, there is a need to link the involvements with scientific research, health and human rights(In Vaughn & In Perron, 2013). The harm reduction approach is a new strategy of how public policy is formed around the drug issue and gives a change from the contemporary situation through movement of priorities towards the public health principles rather than putting more focus on the wrongness of the act involved. At the same time, it is an easier choice in reducing alcohol-related stress on the society since it takes a different approach to mitigating the damage to society presented by alcoholism. Harm reduction highlights on the negative effects linked to alcoholism and the effects to the society (McCambridge et al., 2014). Governmental organizations have created policies and programs aimed at treating the affected. These programs aim at limiting access, and taxation on the substance to reduce the demand. At the same time, social programs initiated have educated, rehabilitated and helped recover from alcoholism.

Prohibition is a word applied to show that the production, transportation, selling, purchase, and consumption of alcohol is illegal (Stockings et al., 2016). Prohibition of alcohol abuse has been questionable across the globe, and controversy still exists if it is the best method. The policy often views alcoholism as a disease and the prevailing reason for increased criminal activities and other illegal matters across the globe. Many who have championed for prohibition believe that government institutions have the primary mandate in coming up with laws that compel those involved to abstain, with harsh penalty altogether. In the past years, prohibition has been more harmful to the society as a result of the unintended side effects linked to the black market sales and bootlegging." At the same time, it pushed liquor underground and increased its demand and sales (Pates & Riley, 2012). Prohibition has been seen as a letdown due to the inadequate enforcement and insight in relation to the black market and the increased criminal activities. Many have been admitted to criminal gangs just through selling liquor and ended up closing their businesses due to lack of customers. They are also lured to the political parties and police hence creating suspicion in the enforcement of these prohibitions to alcoholism (Klein, Day & Harriott,2004). The police officers and the agencies related to prohibitions have frequently used the opportunity to acquire bribes and as an opportunity into bootlegging. The majority has been honest, but a significant number has also succumbed to the temptation that the stereotype of the corrupt agents and police undermine public trust in law enforcement (In Gell et al., 2016). The prohibition policies remain the same for all with no judgment for every individual's specific needs. Prohibition policy to ban on sales and transport of alcohol, for instance, sounds good, but the enforcement is intimidating and provides no chance since alcohol can still be produced and sold.

In dealing with some alcohol problems differently, abuse treatment programs can be used that honors a persons cultural heritage and incorporates values related to family cohesiveness. At the same time, business ventures and people affected can utilize harm reduction strategies to the more immediate and harmful consequences of alcoholism through sensible programs (Agro, 2016). These programs will reflect on the beliefs and a strong cultural prohibition against the act used. Through the process, the counselor needs to be cautious and understand the family history of the affected within a cultural context, including identification of their country of origin and the family members acculturation (Denning & Glickman, 2003). At the same time, they need to embrace a more expansive need to control on alcohol abuse and inform the concern on how it affects the culture. The solution to alcohol-related issue needs to provide support for the family as a whole and reunify the affected to the family. Alienation from the cultural heritage is another form of treatment whereby a patient is removed from the cultural background and placed within a cultural framework that allows recovery. In this case, cultural knowledge is used to empower those with alcohol related issues and advised accordingly.

Harm reduction is a principle in alcoholism that focuses on the fact that alcoholism cannot be eliminated and would be more beneficial in addressing the negative harm related to alcoholism (Gruenewald, 2011). It can be a major issue in the work environment, and in this case, the business can provide mentors and sponsors to help with the issue. These mentors work with those affected to help transform their behavior and reduce the alcohol-related episodes, thereby mitigating the possible harm to their self on the job and in their individual lives which prohibition fails to address. Prohibition often drives out the weaker and milder natures of drugs and increases the use of stronger and dangerous drugs. For this reason, those involve frequently find it in their interest doing business in more compact and potent substances to acquire more profits and grow their business ventures.

In a nutshell, the significant differences that exist between alcohol prohibition and harm reduction lie on the importance of each approach that is placed on the commitment of the policy and towards the expected result. Harm reduction has had a reasonable advantage over the probation policies over the years as a result of the positive outcomes associated with it. This has significantly benefited the society and the working environment as a whole in managing and mitigating the issue from a humane and positive point. Harm reduction has accomplished many a lot as compared to the failed zero tolerance policy which views alcoholism as a disease and the prevailing reason for increased criminal activities and other illegal matters across the globe.


Agro, H. (2016). Prohibited Practice: Drug Use, Harm Reduction and Benefit Enhancement in Toronto Rave Culture.

Denning, P., Little, J., & Glickman, A. (2003). Over the influence: The harm reduction guide for managing drugs and alcohol. Guilford Press.

Gruenewald, P. J. (2011). Regulating availability: how access to alcohol affects drinking and problems in youth and adults. Alcohol Research & Health, 34(2), 248.

In Gell, L., In Buhringer, G., In McLeod, J., In Forberger, S., In Holmes, J., In Lingford-Hughes, A., & In Meier, P. (2016). What determines harm from addictive substances and behaviours? New York: Springer.

In Vaughn, M. G., & In Perron, B. E. (2013). Social work practice in the addictions. New York: Springer.

Klein, A., Day, M., & Harriott, A. (Eds.). (2004). Caribbean Drugs: From Criminalization to Harm Reduction. Zed Books.

Marlatt, G. A., & Witkiewitz, K. (2010). Update on harm-reduction policy and intervention research. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 6, 591-606.

McCambridge, J., Kypri, K., Drummond, C., & Strang, J. (2014). Alcohol harm reduction: corporate capture of a key concept. PLoS Medicine, 11(12), e1001767.

Pates, R., & Riley, D. (2012). Harm Reduction in Substance Use and High-Risk Behaviour. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Stockings, E., Hall, W. D., Lynskey, M., Morley, K. I., Reavley, N., Strang, J., ... & Degenhardt, L. (2016). Prevention, early intervention, harm reduction, and treatment of substance use in young people. The Lancet Psychiatry, 3(3), 280-296.

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