Harm reduction is not just the nine interventions that form the comprehensive package of health services recommended by the WHO for HIV prevention, treatment and care for people who inject drugs. Harm reduction is a set of principles that can be applied to any potentially harmful activity to reduce risk and related harms. In these times of COVID-19, people delivering essential and life-saving services must take all the precautions they can to reduce their own risk of contracting COVID-19.
Here are some resources that you can use if you want to reduce your levels of alcohol consumption, or even stop drinking alcohol if you want.
The Harm Reduction Abstinence and Moderation (HAMS) site has lots of great advice on how to change your drinking patterns. It includes a programme for moderation with tools such as the moderation cheat sheet, as well as an abstinence cheat sheet depending on your goals. For immediate and free resources go here to access the 17-steps of HAMS, or read more below if you want to know more.
From the HAMS site:
At HAMS we believe that anyone can make positive changes in alcohol or drug use no matter how mild or severe the pattern of use may be. We do not believe that anyone is trapped by a fatal, progressive disease. Rather, we believe that anyone can achieve a resolution of or improvement in substance use via a goal of safer use, reduced use, or total abstinence. Some people may also need the adjunct of psychotherapy and/or psychotropic medications to deal with underlying mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and trauma. However, ultimately, HAMS believes that we all have the power within ourselves to get better and that we are not the victims of some mysterious disease that hijacks our brains, leaving us incapable of choice and requiring us to turn our lives over to a higher power. Rather, it is through our choices and our desires that we heal, although it is often hard work and more difficult for some than others. For these reasons, HAMS rejects the "disease" model of addiction and embraces the "choice" model. It is your choices and your hard work - coupled with tools from HAMS and perhaps psychological and/or psychiatric help - that will set you free. And it is your choice, not ours, whether to abstain, moderate, or even enjoy controlled and safe intoxication. Overcoming a substance use problem is like lifting weights: the more you practice, the stronger you get. HAMS is here to empower you - you are not powerless!
Moderation Management Steps of Change workbook is available free here. Moderation Management MM empowers individuals to accept personal responsibility for choosing and maintaining their own path, whether moderation or abstinence. MM promotes early self-recognition of risky drinking behavior, when moderate drinking is a more easily achievable goal. You can read more about their process here and the drinking diary is available here.
Drinking and you is a portal for advice about sensible alcohol consumption, national government guidelines and your health. It does not have South African-specific information, but is helpful none-the-less.
The ByteMe website, which is focussed on oral health, also provides good information on how alcohol abuse affects the health of your mouth and teeth. For information on this, visit the 'Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Your Oral Health' page.