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Talk Recovery Radio

Oct 15, 2021

This week on Talk Recovery Radio Maia Szalavitz author of “Undoing Drugs: The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction” joins the show for a full hour on Co-op Radio and live on Facebook from 12-1pm PST. “Undoing Drugs: The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction” About the book: Drug overdoses now kill more Americans annually than guns, cars, or breast cancer. But the United States has tried to solve this national crisis with policies that only made matters worse. In the name of “sending the right message,” we have maximized the spread of infectious disease, torn families apart, incarcerated millions of mostly Black and Brown people—and utterly failed to either prevent addiction or make effective treatment for it widely available. There is another way—one that is proven to work. However it runs counter to much of the received wisdom about substances and related problems. It is called harm reduction. Created by a group of people who use drugs and by radical public health experts, harm reduction offers a new way of thinking—one that provides startling insights into behavioral and cultural issues that go far beyond drugs. When someone reads Maia’s book they get to learn about the history of harm reduction and this is one of the first books about that topic. It talks about first stopping drug users from getting hurt which ultimately does not stop them from getting high. Harm reduction focuses on harm does not focus on use. Maia talks about the origins of harm reduction and how she visited Liverpool where the people created harm reduction almost as a movement.

Maia Szalavitz

About the Author:

Maia Szalavitz is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction, which is widely recognized as an important advance in thinking about the nature of addiction and how to cope with it, personally and politically. Her book, Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids was the first to expose the damage caused by the “tough love” business that dominates adolescent addiction treatment. She has written for numerous publications from High Times to the New York Times, including TIME, the Washington Post, the Guardian, VICE, Scientific American, and the Atlantic— and she is author or co-author of five other books. With Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD, she co-wrote the classic work on child trauma, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and also Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential—And Endangered. She has won awards from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Drug Policy Alliance, the American Psychological Association and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology for her 30 years of groundbreaking writing on addiction, drug policy and neuroscience.

Maia speaks on the science and research behind medication which is if you stay on it for a long time, you have a 50% reduction in your death rate of all causes, not just overdoses. Maia says that does not mean everyone should be on methadone or suboxone, it means this is the only 2 things that we have proven to reduce mortality and it is very important when society knows about the supply of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs. Maia says some people may not find the right dose for them, or some may not want to deal with the hassle it takes for some people to get their medication daily. Maia says everyone needs to make their own decision, but they need to make an informed decision. Maia explains harm reduction and the purpose of it is to meet someone where they are at.

Maia is a person in recovery, who has attended an abstinence-based treatment centre says she was extremely opposed to methadone and suboxone. Maia says that this is an issue very close to her heart but she really feels like she has to look at the data, but this can not be a one size fits all topic, she says people can not be forced onto medication and people need to have options. Maia says there is many ways to become addicted so there needs to be many ways out of addiction as well. Maia says treating people poorly does not help them when they are in need, locked them up does not help them Maia also says coerced treatment does not help people, she says when you have a group of people talking about their trauma as a child and half the room does not wan to be there Maia says it is not a very conducive therapeutic environment.

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