What Is HAMS?HAMS is a peer-led and free-of-charge support and informational group for anyone who wants to change their drinking habits for the better. The acronym HAMS stands for Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support. HAMS Harm Reduction strategies are defined in the 17 elements of HAMS. HAMS offers support via an online forum, a chat room, an email group, a facebook group, and live meetings. We also offer harm reduction information via the HAMS Book, the articles on this web site, and the HAMS podcast. HAMS supports every positive change. Choose your own goal - safe drinking, reduced drinking, or quitting alcohol altogether.
It does not matter how much or how little you drink; if you want to make a change you are welcome here. If you are concerned that you might have withdrawal symptoms if you quit drinking all at once, please visit our taper page for information about how to taper off alcohol.
All HAMS services are offered free-of-charge. If you have been helped by HAMS, please consider visiting our DONATE page to make a donation to help keep us running. All profits from sales of the HAMS book are used to keep our organization running, too. All information on this site may be reproduced free of charge as long as the HAMS copyright is included.
For anyone seeking harm reduction-based professional help with their drinking, HAMS highly recommends NorthStar Care.
What Is Harm Reduction?Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies intended to reduce the negative consequences of high risk behaviors such as overdrinking or drug use. Harm reduction is a nonjudgmental approach that attempts to meet people "where they are at" with their drinking or drug use. Instead of demanding perfect abstinence, this pragmatic approach is supportive of anyone who wishes to minimize the harm associated with a high risk behavior such as drinking or drug use. Harm reduction accepts that high risk behaviors such as recreational alcohol intoxication are part of our world and works to minimize their harmful effects rather than simply ignore or condemn them. Harm reduction does not attempt to force people to change in ways which they do not choose for themselves. Harm reduction is a compassionate approach whose primary concern is the increased well-being of its constituency. Moreover an overwhelming body of scientific evidence shows that harm reduction works!!
Baby Steps Move MountainsHarm reduction works on the premise that it is easier to get people to make small changes than to get them to make big changes. Because of this it is possible to have a far greater positive impact on society by getting a large number of people to make small positive changes than by getting only a few people to make big changes. It is easier and far more effective to get people to use seat belts than to eliminate the automobile and driving entirely. It is easier and far more effective to get people to have safe sex than to attempt to make people stop having sex entirely. And it is easier and far more effective to teach people how to plan their drinking and drink safely than to try and eliminate recreational intoxication entirely. Prohibition and coerced abstinence do not work. Harm reduction does.
Why a Harm Reduction Approach to Alcohol Is NeededTraditional approaches to alcohol problems which are based on AA and the 12 step model are wonderful resources for the people that they work for. However, these abstinence-based 12 step programs have relatively low success rates--it is estimated that anywhere from 60 to 95 percent of clients who enter such programs either drop out or otherwise fail to maintain abstinence from alcohol. Moreover, the NIAAA tells us that only around 7 percent of people who suffer from an Alcohol Use Disorder will seek treatment in any given year.
By way of contrast, simple and sane harm reduction approaches ranging from seatbelts in automobiles to condoms for safe sex save countless lives every day of the week. This is because many people who would never consider giving up activities like driving or sex are willing to take simple steps to make these activities safer. HAMS is a revolutionary new approach to alcohol problems which brings the harm reduction approach to people who drink alcohol. HAMS fills a giant gap left by other programs by offering a realistic and pragmatic program which addresses the needs of people who are either unwilling or able to abstain from alcohol. Harm reduction saves lives when abstinence-only programs fail