HAMS: Harm Reduction for Alcohol

Support for safer drinking, reduced drinking, or quitting alcohol altogether

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Harm Reduction Tweet Chat - Tuesday, January 20th 2015

January 2015 Drink Counting Challenge! #Trackin' My Booze Away


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 information and support via a chat room, an email group, a facebook group, and live meetings--as well as in the HAMS Book and the articles on this web site. All information on this site may be reproduced free of charge as long as the HAMS copyright is included.

HAMS supports every positive change. Choose your own goal--safe drinking, reduced drinking, or quitting. For more information please visit our page How HAMS Works. Please also check out the HAMS Podcast and the HAMS Psychology Today Blog.


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!!


Harm 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.


Traditional 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

Mission Statement

The HAMS Harm Reduction Network provides information and support for people who wish to reduce the harm in their lives cause by the use of alcohol or drugs. HAMS neither encourages nor condemns alcohol use or alcohol intoxication. HAMS recognizes recreational intoxication as a reality and seeks to reduce harms associated with it. HAMS believes in the autonomy of the individual and supports each individual's choice of a goal vis a vis alcohol - whether the goal is safer drinking, reduced drinking, or quitting. HAMS supports every positive change. The focus of HAMS is alcohol harm reduction, but users of any substance are welcome. HAMS offers support via live and online groups and offers information via the web and printed page. HAMS support groups are lay-led and free-of charge.

HAMS Corporate Sponsors

Non 12-Step Practical Recovery Harm Reduction Therapy Center
Minnesota Alternatives MODER8 NOW Chameleon John
Barry Lessin, M.Ed., CAADC Cynthia Hoffman, MFT Jeremy Frank Ph D
The Center for Optimal Living Christy Calame, LCSW Crossroads Coaching
Compass Health Group Alcohol Problems and Solutions Alternatives Addiction Treatment

HAMS Articles and Pages

Harm Reduction Tweet Chat - Tuesday, January 20th 2015
January 2015 Drink Counting Challenge! #Trackin' My Booze Away
HAMS at the 10th National Harm Reduction Conference - Baltimore 2014
Defining Recovery: HAMS 10th National Harm Reduction Conference Presentation (Powerpoint)
About HAMS
HAMS Recommended Reading
HAMS Testimonials
How Neuroscience Predicts The Spontaneous Remission Of Addiction
HAMS on Life, Love and Health with Christopher Springman
HAMS at the 9th National Harm Reduction Conference
Moderate Drinking, Harm Reduction, and Abstinence Outcomes PDF Aug 1, 2012
When You Have Trouble Sticking To Your Plan
Choosing a Goal: Safer Drinking, Reduced Drinking, Or Quitting Altogether PDF March 7, 2012
Alcohol and Dopamine PDF Feb 2, 2012
The Hijacked Brain Theory Is Wrong PDF Nov 17, 2011
Urge Management Aug 13, 2011
HAMS Media Room
Niacin Therapy for Alcoholism
LSD Therapy for Alcoholism
Ibogaine Therapy for Addiction and Alcoholsim
HAMS at the 8th National Harm Reduction Conference
Evaluating My Progress Towards Harm Reduction PDF
Al Anon Alternatives - HARM LESS
The HARM LESS Al-Anon Alternative Blog
al-anon alternatives - HARM LESS yahoo group
Addiction Treatments That Work - Internet Radio
HAMS Financial Supporters
Marijuana Maintenance: Cannabis for Alcohol Dependence (Video)
Safe Drinking for College Students (Video)
Tobacco Harm Reduction Part 3: Electronic Cigarettes June 6, 2010
Tobacco Harm Reduction Part 2: Can Cigars And Pipes Be A Form Of Tobacco Harm Reduction?
HAMS Member Book Reviews
Tobacco Harm Reduction Part 1: All smokeless tobacco is not created equal
HAMS Support Groups
Relaxing Without Alcohol
Articles of Interest to Alcohol Harm Reductionists
Alcohol and Sleep
Worksheets from the HAMS book
My Drinking Plan Worksheet
Sample Drinking Plan Worksheet
My Drinking Goal Worksheet
Sample Drinking Goal Worksheet
My Risk Ranking Worksheet
Sample Risk Ranking Worksheet
Harm Reduction for Sex AddictsNovember 29, 2009
Myths and Facts about Alcohol and Brain Damage November 26, 2009
Antihistamine OTC Sleep Aids November 21, 2009
HAMS Live Meeting Handout (PDF) November 12, 2009
What Is Moderate Drinking and What Is Risk-Free Drinking? November 11, 2009
The HAMS Drink Calculator (Excel) November10, 2009
Safe Drinking November 4, 2009
Are you different? October 30, 2009
When AA Fails October 27, 2009
The Contradiction Of Will Power October 25, 2009
Using AVRT to Help You Achieve Alcohol Free Days October 24, 2009
Responsible Drinking and Responsible Alcohol Policy October 22, 2009
Reduce Drinking October 21, 2009
How Long Does It Take To Change A Habit? October 20, 2009
How To Prevent Alcoholic Blackouts October 20, 2009
What To Do If Your Spouse Won't Change His Drinking October 18, 2009
Do You Need A "Higher Power" To Change Your Drinking? October 18, 2009
Alcohol, Individual, and Environment October 17, 2009
Controlled Drinking October 16, 2009
How To Be Supportive Of A Spouse Who Is Practicing Harm Reduction October 12, 2009
Reduced Drinking October 12, 2009
Heavy Drinking October 12, 2009
The Truth About Cross-Addiction And Cross-Tolerance October 7, 2009
Getting Started With HAMS September 25, 2009
HAMS at Harlem Hospital
Milk Thistle, Alcohol, and the Liver September 23, 2009
Gender, Mortality, and Heavy Drinking September 22, 2009
How the Meaning of the Word "Alcoholism" Has Changed September 3, 2009
Coerced AA Participation Unconstitutional September 3, 2009
DSM-IV-TR Criteria for Alcohol Withdrawal September 3, 2009
DSM-IV-TR Criteria for Alcohol Intoxication September 3, 2009
DSM-IV-TR Criteria for Alcohol Dependence September 3, 2009
DSM-IV-TR Criteria for Alcohol Abuse September 3, 2009
DSM-IV-TR Alcohol Related Disorders September 3, 2009
How Effective Is AA and 12 Step Treatment? Sept 1, 2009
Comments On AA'S Triennial Surveys August 27, 2009
Valerian And Hops For Insomnia August 22, 2009
Alcohol Harm Reduction Exercises (PDF)
Do You Have To Quit Drinking for Antidepressants To Work? August 14, 2009
What is the DSM? August 14, 2009
What Is Melatonin? August 13, 2009
My Alcohol Abstinence Day August 10, 2009
What Is Acetaldehyde? August 5, 2009
What Is Wet Brain? August 5, 2009
What Is Campral? August 5, 2009
What Is Naltrexone? August 4, 2009
Glutamine Reduces Alcohol Consumption and Cravings August 3, 2009
Should You Tell Your Doctor About An Alcohol Problem? July 30, 2009
What Is Topamax? July 30, 2009
Hangover Cures - Fact and Fancy July 29, 2009
To The Health Care Professional July 20, 2009
Finding a Good Therapist July 14, 2009
How HAMS Works July 9, 2009
Drink Charting July 8, 2009
CBA - Cost Benefit Analysis July 8, 2009
The Alcohol Harm Reduction Toolbox July 5, 2009
Alcohol Harm Reduction Therapist Finder July 3, 2009
What Causes Hangover? July 3, 2009
Living in the Present: Anxiety, Depression and CBT June 30, 2009
Can You Prevent a Hangover? June 27, 2009
Epictetus - Enchiridion or Handbook June 26, 2009
What Is Antabuse? June 26, 2009
More on Dual Diagnosis June 25, 2009
The Harm of Labeling: Why We Say That You Are Not an Alcoholic June 25, 2009
Lowering the Bar for Alcoholism June 25, 2009
Antisocial Personality Disorder and Alcohol June 25, 2009
The Ten Forms of Twisted Thinking June 24, 2009
Hitting Bottom Is Not Necessary June 24, 2009
The Geographical Cure Can Work June 23, 2009
Alcohol and Life Problems June 21, 2009
The Prevalence of Co-Occurring Issues (Dual Diagnosis) June 19, 2009
Drinking and Depression June 19, 2009
Kudzu Root Reduces Alcohol Intake June 19, 2009
Alcohol and Mental Health: A Harm Reduction Approach to Dual Diagnosis June 17, 2009
What Is Alcohol Withdrawal? June 16, 2009
How Alcohol Is Metabolized in the Human Body June 15, 2009
Carbs, Sugar, and Alcohol Content of Various Alcoholic Drinks June 12, 2009
Marijuana Maintenance - Cannabis Substitution for Alcohol Dependence June 11, 2009
What Is Reverse Tolerance? June 7, 2009
What Is Alcohol Tolerance? June 5, 2009
How To Prevent Alcohol Withdrawal June 4, 2009
The Odds Of Going Through Alcohol Withdrawal June 4, 2009
Could SSRIs Lead To Increased Alcohol Consumption In Some Populations? May 13, 2009
Naltrexone and the Sinclair method of pharmacological extinction Apr 16, 2009
The Efficacy of Antabuse, Campral, and Naltrexone in Treating Alcohol Use Disorders with Special Attention to the Sinclair Method and Medication Management Apr 15, 2009
DRUGS-HR - Online Harm Reduction Support Group for Drug Users Feb 11, 2009
Alcohol and Medications
The HAMS Book
HAMS Testimonials
College Binge Drinking and Harm Reduction Dec 18, 2008
Videos of Interest to Hamsters Dec 5, 2008
HAMS at the 7th National Harm Reduction Conference November 19, 2008
How To Taper Off Alcohol July 20, 2008
The Alcohol Harm Reduction Pyramid July 1, 2008
Harm Elimination Contrasted With Harm Reduction Feb 26, 2008
Alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous Feb 26, 2008
Myths From The Drug And Alcoholism Treatment Industry Feb 21, 2008
The College Student's Guide To Safe Drinking Feb 20, 2008
Moderate Drinking Cheat Sheet Feb 17, 2008
Alcohol Abstinence Cheat Sheet Feb 17, 2008
Alcohol Harm Reduction Cheat Sheet Feb 17, 2008
HAMS Moderate Drinking Limits Feb 17, 2008
Injection Drug User Groups Feb 17, 2008
The Standard Drink Feb 17, 2008
Medications for Abstinence or Moderate Drinking Feb 17, 2008

HAMS Radio Transcripts

Defining Recovery with Lee Ann Kaskutas

HAMS Around The Web

Harm Reduction Radio
HAMS Psychology Today Blog
HAMS T Shirt Store at Cafe Press
HAMS In The Fix
Ten Tips to Change Your Drinking Habits
Drink Refusal Strategies
Marijuana Maintenance for Quitting Drinking
The Myth of Addiction
Addiction, Route of Administration, and Rate of Administration
Alcoholism and Harm Reduction
Consequences, Addiction, and Harm Reduction
Twelve Things That Alcoholics Anonymous Doesn't Want You to Know
The Most Common Result of Alcoholism or Addiction
The Difference Between 12 Step Programs and Fundamentalist Christianity
Spontaneous Remission from Addictive Disease Is Not Spontaneous
Harm Reduction: Keeping Them Alive for the Miracle
Harm Reduction for Opiates Contrasted with Harm Reduction for Alcohol
HAMS Harm Reduction (harm_reduction) on Twitter
HAMS Releases a Revolutionary New Alcohol Self-Help Book
The Ecumenical Approach to Alcohol Problems
Harm Reduction for Alcohol: An Idea Whose Time Has Arrived
New Approach to Alcohol Problems Launched by the HAMS Harm Reduction Network
How to Reduce Your Drinking
How to Change Your Drinking
Alcohol, Naltrexone, and the Magic of Pharmacological Extinction
Do Antidepressants Make Some People Drink More?
Alcohol's Effects in the Brain
Alcohol Harm Reduction Resources for Mental Health Professionals and Others
What We Can Learn From The Audrey Kishline Tragedy - The Case For Harm Reduction
The Alcohol Harm Reduction Blog

HAMS Facebook Pages

HAMS - Harm Reduction for Alcohol - Page
How to Change Your Drinking: a Harm Reduction Guide to Alcohol - Page
Students for Safe Drinking - Page
HARM LESS - an Al Anon Alternative - Page

HAMS Founder Kenneth Anderson on Facebook

HAMS Facebook Groups

Harm Reduction For Alcohol | Facebook Group
Cannabis for Alcohol Dependence | Facebook Group
HARM LESS - an Al Anon Alternative | Facebook Group

LinkedIn Professional Discussion Group

Addiction Treatment Professionals - Harm Reduction Group

HAMS Harm Reduction Email Groups

HAMS Harm Reduction for Alcohol | Yahoo Group
Alcohol-Free HAMSTERS - for People Who Are Abstaining from Alcohol | Yahoo Group
HARM-LESS - for Friends and Family of Substance Users | Yahoo Group
CATS - Cannabis as Alcoholism Treatment | Yahoo Group
DRUGS-HR - Harm Reduction for Drug Users | Yahoo Group
Related Group Moderation Moms | Yahoo Group


Alcohol Harm Reduction Exercises (PDF)
Addiction and Learning (PDF)
Damage Control: dealing with slips, recycling, and ricochets (PDF)
How to Change Your Spouse's Drinking (PDF)
Alcohol Prohibition and Consumption
SADD - Short Alcohol Dependence Data Questionnaire
BAC Charts
HAMS Position Statement on Psychiatric Medications
Guidelines for HAMS Meetings
Disciplinary Policies for HAMS Groups
HAMS Website Privacy Policy
Evidence For HR

HAMS Corporate

HAMS Annual Reports
HAMS Taxes
HAMS Financial Statements
HAMS Corporate Documents

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harm reduction alcohol

HAMS is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit incorporated in the state of New York


The HAMS Harm Reduction Network, Inc.
P. O. Box 498
New York, NY 10012
Tel: 347-678-5671
Email: hams@hamsnetwork.org

A Favorite Quote:

"The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest."
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

HAMS: Where Better is Better!

© 2007, 2008 The HAMS Harm Reduction Network, Inc.
Under 21? Please visit Students for Safe Drinking