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Practical Recovery Blog

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  • Witnessing Brilliance: Justice Department Cannabis Crackdown

    Posted on January 12, 2018
    Federal Crackdown on Cannabis 2018 by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. On January 4th 2018, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions issued a memorandum to all United States Attorneys stating that the federal government’s hands-off approach to enforcing cannabis laws was “unnecessary.”  The memorandum rescinded the federal government's hands-off approach to cannabis, effective immediately, due to “Congress’s determination that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that marijuana activity is a serious crime.”  Few crimes are more serious than cannabis activity, thus the memorandum from the AG is an important step towards restoring law and order in our increasingly chaotic society.  States with legal cannabis beware, Ol' Jeffy and his legion of justice warriors are coming to reinstate discip...
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    Posted on January 5, 2018
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    Posted on January 5, 2018
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  • A Mirror for The Language of Addiction

    Posted on October 13, 2017
    Using Treatment Jargon to Describe Treatment By Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. The insulting, dehumanizing rhetoric of the addiction ‘treatment’ industry never ceases to amaze and dishearten.  People who are hurting and vulnerable are called manipulative, junkie liars so often that such language is widely accepted and implemented in treatment settings by so-called professionals.  What if we fought fire with fire and the same critical, cruel language used to ‘shame addicts into change’ was mirrored back to describe the addiction treatment industry?  Well, let us indulge the imagination a bit and give the addiction treatment industry a taste of its own medicine… (Note: the following is not intended to be a true representation of addiction treatment, it is merely an imaginative exercise to...
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  • The Goal of Addiction Treatment Completely Misses the Mark

    Posted on October 6, 2017
    The Entire Aim of Addiction Treatment is Off by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. The goal of nearly the entire field of addiction treatment is to help people stop using substances forever. However, a closer look at the goal of stopping forever reveals fatal flaws. This article aims to expose the flaws in the goal of stopping forever while proposing the broader, more effective goal of changing. The Flawed Goals of Addiction Treatment A goal of stopping substance use forever is problematic in two fundamental ways. The first fundamental flaw in a goal of stopping forever is that the goal is set in negative terms. Effective goals are constructed in a positive framework, which means goals are phrased in terms of what will be done rather than what will be avoided. For example, a goal set as ...
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  • Teen Boot Camps: America's Legacy of Torturing Children

    Posted on September 29, 2017
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. In modern, “sophisticated” society we like to believe in our lofty righteousness.  We are dignified, upstanding examples of integrity.  We parade about in our chrome-wheeled, semi-electric metal boxes. We adorn ourselves in proper fitting attire from a respectable department store. It is a nice, comforting bubble most of us float around in. Meanwhile, those folks who choose methods of consciousness alteration deemed immoral and unrighteous by the moral majority often experience a dark, shameful underbelly of vindictive tribunals and torturous treatment. Teen boot camps are perhaps the most shameful, immoral stain on the dark underbelly of America’s moral majority and its multi-billion dollar “treatment” industry. When it comes to hypocrisy, there’s nothing ...
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  • God's Place: Is A Higher Power in Recovery Necessary?

    Posted on September 15, 2017
    Is a Higher Power in Recovery Necessary? By Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Most approaches to addiction treatment tout a relationship with a higher power as essential to success. Peddling salvation and threatening damnation are age-old endeavors for humans, rehabs doing so may just be a modern incarnation of indulgences. But what if they’re right? What if a strong connection to a higher power is essential to recovery? This article explores the incorporeal topic of a higher power from the perspective of awe and wonder, and proposes that an attitude of awe is made up of many of the most vital aspects to sustaining success in recovery and to improving wellbeing in general. Awe: The Cornerstone of Religious Experience Awe has been at the heart of religious experience since the dawn of the co...
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  • The Future of Addiction Treatment

    Posted on September 8, 2017
    Alternatives to Abstinence Will Be Mainstream by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Step aside ‘abstinence-only,’ your monopoly on addiction treatment is finally coming to an end.  It has taken some time, decades even, for practical approaches to recovery to gain respect and prominence.  Finally, with an opioid epidemic in full swing, treatment rooted in approaches that are nearly a century old, and rehabs crumbling under the scandal of insurance scams, the climate in addiction treatment is on a fulcrum tipping towards change.  This article explores some of the exciting changes on the horizon of addiction treatment. For nearly a century, addiction treatment has been plagued by the erroneous beliefs that most people fail, that only one outcome is viable (total abstinence), and that only one ...
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  • Drugs Are Medicine

    Posted on September 1, 2017
    Drugs Are Medicine by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. One of the more hypocritical aspects of today’s culture is the distinction between medicine and drugs.  Two weeks ago we explored the power harnessed in a single word.  The stark contrast between the words ‘drugs’ and ‘medicine’ underscores the vastly different connotations that can be elicited by synonyms.  Challenging the social stigma associated with addiction is one of the most important aspects of healing addiction.  In the spirit of challenging the social stigma around addiction, this week’s article highlights the arbitrary distinction between the words ‘drugs’ and ‘medicine’ as a prime example of the double standard and inherent hypocrisy in our culture’s views on substance use. Rarely do two synonyms elicit such distinct emoti...
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  • The Opiate Epidemic: Solving the Crisis

    Posted on August 25, 2017
    How to Solve the Opioid Crisis by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. In an age when Americans agree on few things, an issue that unites us toward a common goal could be deeply and profoundly healing. On the costs of the opioid crisis in America, there is little disagreement. People from both sides of the aisle, all walks of life, and every socio-economic stratum are affected by the opioid epidemic. Even President Trump and former President Obama agree on this issue, with the former recently calling (but not officially declaring) the opioid crisis a national emergency and the latter recognizing it as an epidemic. While many agree the opioid crisis is a major problem, there is a need for increasing clarity and agreement on how to solve it. Officially Declare a National Emergency The first step...
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  • Self-Defeating Thoughts: The Weight of the Word

    Posted on August 18, 2017
    The Weight of the Word by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Humanity has a keen knack for degrading our most powerful creations.  Many creatures produce sounds, but in an inspired moment of momentous artistry humans harnessed the production of sound to form the word. From the word language was born. Language, in turn, gave voice to our fascinating, mysterious consciousness and made community possible. Cooperation in community allowed our species to successfully colonize nearly every corner of the planet, a truly magnificent accomplishment for a relatively small, slow, land-bound mammal. Sometimes, we honor the true power of language, as reflected in proverbs like, 'the pen is mightier than the sword.'  More often, however, humanity engages in our peculiar proclivity for self-deception and ...
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  • DUI$ for Dollar$, pt. II – The Cannabis Complications

    Posted on August 4, 2017
    Washington's E-DUI Laws: Cannabis Complications by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Last week we took a closer look at the constantly increasing DUI penalties in light of Washington state broadening their scope of DUI charges.  Washington's E-DUI  laws penalize drivers for the highly dangerous use of cell phones and for relatively benign behaviors like smoking a cigarette or eating a muffin.  One aspect of the ever-expanding DUI market that we did not cover last week, however, was the added complications of cannabis DUI charges amidst the slow death of cannabis prohibition.  Even though cannabis prohibition is on its way out, a new crop of pot-related legal issues is growing in its place. As cannabis crawls toward its much-deserved return to legality, the states already past the era of fu...
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  • DUI$ for Dollar$: Washington's E-DUI Law

    Posted on July 28, 2017
    DUI$ for Dollar$ Washington's E-DUI Law by Thaddeus Camlin Psy.D. With each passing year the penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) of substances intensify.  Recently, Washington state passed legislation, termed ‘E-DUI,’ that penalizes offenders for any distracted driving – use of electronics, eating, grooming, even smoking a cigarette. The penalties for distracted driving pale in comparison to standard DUI penalties, despite evidence that suggests distracted driving is more dangerous than intoxicated driving. The clarity of our cognition decreases as emotional intensity increases, and driving under the influence is an emotionally charged topic. Therefore, our thinking on how we treat DUI offenders may be clouded by emotionality. Thus, amidst the increasing scope of DUI ch...
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  • Fentanyl Overdose and the Opioid Epidemic

    Posted on July 21, 2017
    Fentanyl Overdose and the Opioid Epidemic By Thaddeus Camlin, PsyD. As if the opioid crisis wasn’t already bad enough, fentanyl’s infiltration of the epidemic is acting like an accelerant to an already uncontained wildfire.  Fentanyl surged to public awareness after being attributed to the demise of music legend Prince.  Beyond its notoriety for being the Prince Slayer, fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid whose analogues can be up to 10,000 times more potent than morphine. First made in 1960, building off of the creation of demerol, fentanyl entered mainstream medical practice as an anesthetic.  The fentanyl patch, lollipop, and sublingual spray were introduced to palliative care in the 1990s, and by 2012 fentanyl was the most widely used synthetic opioid in medical practice....
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  • Staying Sober During the Summer Holidays

    Posted on June 30, 2017
    Staying Sober During the Holidays Celebrating Interdependence Day by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. On the brink of independence day it is important to reiterate that recovery doesn’t occur in a bubble, it occurs from building a rewarding life and meaningful connections with others.  Staying sober during the summer holidays is much more likely with support from friends and family. Total and complete independence is a myth of the intellect.  The mind protects our separateness with mythical borders of independence.  When we break down the armor that borders our mind we experience the exhilarating, terrifying thrill of vulnerable connection.  The well-constructed border walls of our minds protect us from pain and hurt, but the cost is isolated starvation and sometimes addiction. Given hu...
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  • Addiction and Society: Snowflakes and a Culture of Outrage

    Posted on June 23, 2017
    Snowflakes and Addiction: A Culture of Outrage by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. In today’s culture of outrage everything seems to be offensive to someone.  The term ‘snowflake’ is generally viewed as derogatory and refers to people who are entitled, genuinely distressed by ideas that run contrary to their worldview, and carry an inflated sense of their own uniqueness.  Fair or not, millennials are increasingly referred to as the snowflake generation.  Some argue that “snowflakes” are created by “helicopter parents,” who tiptoe around the sensitivities of their children and shield them from the realities of life.  With much still unknown about the implications of insulating oneself from the discomfort of encountering competing ideas, one question worth asking is:  “Is there a relationship ...
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  • FBI Raids of Florida and So. California Rehabs

    Posted on June 16, 2017
    FBI Raids Rehabs in SoCal and Florida Rehab Unraveling By Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Light is now exposing the shadiness that cloaks the world of rehab.  Recent FBI raids in south Florida and southern California are revealing a network of conmen making fortunes off the vulnerability of people with substance use problems and their families.  A relentless pursuit of profit over product and a lack of regulation and oversight fostered a treatment world where the unscrupulous were able to dominate the market and overshadow the treatment professionals with an ethical backbone and genuine desire to help people who are hurting.   Now, it appears the swan song is in full swing for the predatory miscreants tainting the healing efforts of the many honest addiction treatment providers. FBI rai...
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  • Technology Addiction: 'Likes' Are the New ‘It’ Drug

    Posted on June 9, 2017
    Technology Addiction:  'Likes' Are the New ‘It’ Drug by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. In the world of technology, the customers are the advertisers and the product is our attention.  Tech giants like google, apple, twitter, and facebook sell advertisers access to our eyeballs.  In an age of unparalleled information abundance, our attention is increasingly scarce.  The scarcity of attention is bringing competition for it to a fever pitch.  The increasingly sensationalized tactics tech companies use to get a piece of our attention work.  Ninety-two percent of people aged 18-29 have a smartphone.  The average person touches, clicks, or swipes their phone 2,617 times every day.  ‘Likes’ are the new 'it' drug, and the addiction to technology is spreading like wildfire. Technology Addiction an...
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  • Suicide and Addiction

    Posted on June 2, 2017
    Suicide and Addiction By Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. The recent success of the Netflix series entitled, 13 Reasons Why, along with the death of Chris Cornell, brought suicide into the forefront of American consciousness.  The relationship between suicide and addiction is well established – substance use problems are the #2 risk factor for suicide (depression is #1, and it frequently co-occurs with substance use problems).  Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States  This article will explore the difference between risk factors and warning signs for suicide.  It will then offer suggestions for what to do if you or a loved one struggles with the pain that pushes people to seek relief from extreme methods like addiction and suicide. Warning Signs Warning signs for su...
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  • Mushroom Therapy for Addiction Treatment

    Posted on May 26, 2017
    Mushroom Therapy for Addiction Treatment by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Psilocybin: The Magic in the Mushroom Empirical research supporting the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin (the psychoactive compound in "magic mushrooms") just keeps piling up.  The idea of mushroom therapy for addiction treatment may sound like a pipe dream espoused by someone named Moonbeam on hippie-hill in Golden Gate Park who smells like patchouli.  But the truth is that psilocybin research from renowned institutions like UCLA, Johns Hopkins, and NYU shows promising results for the treatment of ailments like treatment-resistant depression, OCD, anxiety, and addiction.  In the words of the June, 2017 edition of Psychology Today, psilocybin may be “A One Hit Cure for Addiction.” Cave paintings that are many th...
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  • Recovery from Addiction: Self-Control

    Posted on May 19, 2017
    Recovery from Addiction The Coordinates to Self-Control by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Self-control is treated like a four-letter word in some recovery circles.  Many people in the process of changing a problematic pattern of behavior are told their only hope is to give-up control.  The truth is that every single one of us has the ability to control our behavior.  To improve our ability to control our behavior it is important to understand how to arrive at a state of self-control.  We either control our behavior or our behavior controls us. Simply put, self-control is the ability to perform behaviors that will produce desired outcomes.  Researchers generally agree on three primary characteristics that, when they are the aim of personal growth, increase an individual’s self-control. ...
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  • American Healthcare and Addiction Treatment

    Posted on May 12, 2017
    American Healthcare and Addiction Treatment by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP With the passage of “Trumpcare” in the House we have renewed our national focus on healthcare legislation. Rather than address the specifics of this bill, let’s step back and consider two often over-looked “big picture” factors. 1) What is the role of government in healthcare? Although in the US we like to think of ourselves as “the best,” in healthcare we are best perhaps in only one way. The very best medical care in the world is available here, if you have the money to pay for it. The Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Massachusetts General, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, and other renowned facilities attract wealthy patients from around the world. These centers of excellence are good for all of us, because they promote...
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  • The War on Drugs: History and Implications

    Posted on May 5, 2017
    The War on Drugs: History and Implications by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. The Politics of Consciousness Few political issues today are sources of unity and shared vision.  Politics has become vehemently binary to the point that extremes on both sides see opposing views as subhuman.  In the current climate of ‘us and them,’ drugs may be one of the few remaining topics that many people from both sides of the aisle can agree upon.  Ending the drug war aligns with advocates for limited government, human rights, conservative economics, and liberal social policy.  However, as the war drums currently pound for a renewed call to arms in an impossible war, an in-depth analysis of the war on drugs is important for anyone who chooses to use  substances or knows someone who does. This article di...
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  • SMART Recovery’s First Systematic Scientific Review

    Posted on April 25, 2017
    SMART Recovery’s First Systematic Scientific Review by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP The first systematic scientific review of SMART Recovery was published earlier this year. What is a systematic review? It reports the process of “identifying, summarizing and evaluating the quality of evidence for SMART Recovery” (Beck, Forbes, Baker, Kelly, et al, 2017, p. 2). Prior reviews had become outdated, and they were “narrative in nature and tend[ed] to focus on the origins, development and principles of SMART Recovery….since Horvath & Yeterian’s narrative review (Horvath & Yeterian, 2012), the evidence base has doubled—an additional four studies, including the first randomized controlled trial (RCT), have been published” (p. 2). Although I regret that our 2012 review is no longer the...
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  • Gauging Success in Recovery

    Posted on April 21, 2017
    Gauging Success in Recovery by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Success in recovery is about much more than abstinence. In fact, for about half of the people who recover moderation is the outcome. Basing success on abstinence sets people up for the abstinence violation effect, which can be a major factor in pushing a minor slip into an all-out relapse. So when someone is not measuring success by counting days of abstinence, what factors are useful in gauging success? Three factors have been shown to predict successful recovery. The first is a change in attitude towards substances. How people first felt about substance use compared to how they feel now often differs. People who once idealized substance use may now find it to be a nuisance or an impediment to more important things in life. I...
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  • Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 6: Happiness

    Posted on April 14, 2017
    Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 6: Happiness by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. The final topic of our in-depth exploration of each core emotion is happiness.  Happiness is the most pleasurable, desired, pursued, elusive, mercurial emotion of all.  If happiness is so pleasurable and desired then it can’t be a reason people use drugs, right?  Wrong.  People often use drugs to both achieve and sustain happiness and the drugs work, sort of.  As Tolstoy astutely observed, there appear to be many more ways not to be happy than there are ways to be happy.  Drugs are one method people employ to feel happy.  Therefore, understanding happiness is vital to understanding addiction. Did you miss part 5 of this series? Learn about the relationship betwee...
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  • Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 5: Fear

    Posted on April 7, 2017
    Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt: 5: Fear by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. This week fear is the topic that continues our in-depth exploration of each core emotion. Why do people use drugs?  Often times, people use drugs to assuage fear and alleviate anxiety.  In healthy doses, many researchers consider fear to be the most vital and motivating emotion.  In excessive doses, fear fuels much dysfunctional, disabling, and destructive behavior. Missed last week's post? Learn about the relationship between addiction and disgust here. Normal, healthy fear prepares and empowers us.  Physiologically, fear arouses muscle tension, perspiration, stomach butterflies, and dry mouth.  Fear primes the release of adrenaline and readies us to run, fight, o...
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  • Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 4: Disgust

    Posted on March 31, 2017
    Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 4: Disgust by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. This week disgust is the topic that continues our in-depth exploration of each core emotion.  Believe it or not, disgust is often an answer to the question, ‘why do people use drugs?’  Disgust is the most generalizable of the core emotions (stepping on an earthworm when barefoot is almost universally experienced as disgusting).  When disgust is self-directed it forms the core of many emotional and psychological disturbances.  Despite its universality and significance in wellbeing, disgust is the most under-researched core emotion. Missed pt. 3 of this series? Learn more about the link between sadness and addiction here. In evolutionary terms, disgust evolved to ...
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  • Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 3: Sadness

    Posted on March 24, 2017
    Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Sadness and Addiction by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. This week sadness is the topic that continues our in-depth exploration of each core emotion.  If you ever wonder, ‘why do people use drugs?’ sadness is often an answer.  Many of the most painful emotions (e.g. grief, bereavement, mourning) and debilitating disorders (e.g. major depression) are rooted in sadness.  Humans often put forth valiant efforts to avoid and ward off sadness and its related emotions.  However, sadness is not inherently negative and efforts to avoid it are often destructive because sadness is crucial to the human experience. Did you miss part 2 of this series? Explore the relationship between anger and addiction here. Sadness generally features an appraisal...
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  • Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 2: Anger

    Posted on March 17, 2017
    Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 2: Anger by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. For the first in-depth look at each core emotion we begin with anger.  Few would object that anger is one answer to the question, ‘why do people use drugs?’  Anger tends to conjure potent associations like violence, hatred, and destruction, but anger is not all bad.  Sometimes substance use helps suppress and manage anger, other times substance use helps facilitate the release of anger.  Anger and substance use certainly have a storied history (stereotypes of ‘angry drunks’ are abundant).  This article investigates the nature of anger and its relationship to substance use. Missed last week's article? Learn more about the relationship between substance use and emotion...
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  • State of the Addiction Treatment Field: Where We Are and Where We Need to Go

    Posted on March 13, 2017
    State of the Addiction Treatment Field: Where We Are and Where We Need to Go by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP The following article is based on the presentation I gave at the Evolution of Addiction Treatment Conference in Los Angeles, February 2-5, in a Keynote Panel Presentation entitled “State of the field address: Where we are and where we need to go.” I was one of seven presenters. We each had up to 15 minutes. The entire presentation lasted two hours, including a brief discussion period at the end. The two presenters before me were not proposing the radical changes I was, so I began by addressing the fact that my presentation was likely to be an outlier in this group. I want to focus primarily on where we need to go. If you work from a disease model, 12-step, abstinence only fra...
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  • Why Do People Use Drugs? The Relationship Between Emotions and Addiction, pt. 1

    Posted on March 10, 2017
    Why Do People Use Drugs? Emotions, pt. I:  Overview by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Whether we want to admit it or not emotions run our lives.  Reason and rationality can help us put on the breaks and make alternative choices, but emotions are the primary motivation for all we think and do.  Emotions are the simple answer to the question, ‘why do people use drugs?’  Emotions are the simple answer to why anyone does anything.  Because emotions are the primary motivators in our lives, it is important to understand their function and improve our ability to manage them. Emotions made a strong comeback over the past 1/2-century.  Resurrected from the jaws of death in the Victorian era (when emotions were viewed as evolutionarily degenerate), the past five decades of scientific research hi...
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  • Mental Health Diagnosis: History, Validity and Implications

    Posted on March 3, 2017
    The Mental Health Diagnosis: History, Validity and Implications by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Today’s Diagnosis is Tomorrow’s Joke A former client recently sent me a list of reasons for admittance to a psychiatric hospital between the years of 1864-1889.  The list was being shared on the internet as a joke, highlighting how many mental health diagnoses back then now sound like potential names for heavy metal bands.  I laughed.  Then I found myself thinking about the implications the list of old diagnoses has on today’s formal diagnoses. A Look at the History of the Mental Health Diagnosis These days, mental health professionals are very serious about their diagnostic labels, which makes sense because getting paid by insurance companies hinges on labeling individuals with billable diag...
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  • High Sobriety: An Interview with Joe Schrank

    Posted on February 17, 2017
    High Sobriety: Cannabis Inclusive Treatment Opens in Los Angeles An Interview with Joe Schrank, by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP In an effort to offer another pathway to recovery, High Sobriety in Los Angeles opened last month a residential treatment facility that includes the option of prescribed cannabis. The home page states: “For generations we have been told marijuana is a gateway drug; this has been debunked by science and common sense. At High Sobriety, we believe marijuana can be an exit drug.” Reinforcing the notion of an exit transition process, the facility’s tagline is “lethal > non-lethal > life.” I have great admiration for the courage demonstrated by the founder of this facility, Joe Schrank. Several years ago I contemplated offering a similar option, but finally ...
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  • Using Marijuana to Treat Addiction

    Posted on February 17, 2017
    Using Marijuana to Treat Addiction Cannabis:  A Gateway to Recovery? by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. As the failed cannabis prohibition effort continues to die a slow death, some interesting new growth is emerging in the wake.  One Cannabis friendly treatment center, High Sobriety, is already up and running in California and it may be a prelude to a much larger movement in the treatment of addiction. Rather than seeing cannabis as a gateway to addiction (a view without research to support it), those involved in marijuana-friendly treatment see it as a gateway to recovery.  As harm reduction continues to compile mounds of empirical support, the attitude towards an approach like transitioning someone off heroin with cannabis appears to be shifting from insanity to rationality. In re...
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  • How to Pick a Good Therapist

    Posted on February 10, 2017
    How to Pick a Good Therapist by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. One of my favorite professors often espoused that, “when it comes to therapists, the competition is at the level of mediocrity.”  Finding the right therapist can be quite an undertaking.  In the world of therapists there are countless therapeutic modalities, certifications, qualifications, and credentials.  This article hopes to help one navigate the multitudinous therapeutic acronyms, degrees, and services out there to find the right fit for you. The world of addiction and recovery presents some unique challenges to finding a good therapist.  Three primary types of providers make up the options for therapists when it comes to addiction: certified drug and alcohol counselors, master’s level therapists, and doctorate level ps...
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  • Rebound Relationships in Recovery

    Posted on February 3, 2017
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. If (as the current paradigm shift in recovery suggests) the opposite of addiction is connection not sobriety, then it makes perfect sense that initiating new romantic relationships early on in recovery is commonplace.  As with so many facets of recovery, there is an abundance of "advice" on relationships.  The recovery "wisdom" on relationships has some worthwhile points to consider, but is often fraught with arbitrary absolutes and unfounded, unrealistic mandates.  Thus far, there has been no empirical data linking horticultural adeptness to interpersonal effectiveness.  So if you buy a plant and it doesn't go so well, fret not, that doesn't mean you can't succeed in building meaningful and lasting relationships. Anyone  with experience in 12-step c...
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  • Highlights from The Surgeon General's Report

    Posted on January 26, 2017
    Alcohol, Drugs, and Health: Highlights from The Surgeon General's Report Tom Horvath, Ph.D., and Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health, released in November, has received considerable attention. The massive effort involved in creating this document is in itself worthy of respect. The opening pages list seven science editors, three managing editors, five contributing editors, 21 contributing authors, one science writer, 117 reviewers, and 10 other contributors (these individuals apparently being mostly involved in production). The professionals involved include many of the most important individuals in the fields of addiction and recovery. You may have heard the expression that a camel is a horse that was des...
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  • Self-Care in Recovery: H.A.L.T. at the Crossroads

    Posted on January 20, 2017
    Self-Care in Recovery H.A.L.T. At The Crossroads by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. I recently received a request from a reader to examine H.A.L.T. in light of current research. H.A.L.T. is a commonly used acronym by 12-Step circles in discussions of triggers and relapse prevention, and it stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. It is based largely on the content of four chapters from the Alcoholics Anonymous publication Living Sober. This article will explore each of the four topics referenced in the H.A.L.T. acronym with empirical and self-empowering inclusions. Hungry The Living Sober book suggests that eating or drinking something, particularly something sweet, is an effective method of dampening the desire to drink. SMART Recovery would call the technique of eating ice cream in...
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  • How the Mind Works

    Posted on January 13, 2017
    No Need For A Vacation, Your Mind’s Already On One by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. We like to think we are in control, making conscious decisions, and acting of our own free will.   Causes lead to effects, stimuli trigger responses, nature carries on in an orderly fashion.  We are thoughtful, contemplative, questioning beings right?  Wrong.  Much to our chagrin the world makes far less sense than we think, we rarely question ourselves, and the coherence that we experience is mostly a product of how our minds work. Fascinating research findings continue to challenge our understanding of the world and ourselves.  Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman (from whom the content of this article is borrowed without permission) breaks the human mind into two systems.  System 1 is qui...
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  • New Year's Resolutions

    Posted on January 6, 2017
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Turn Resolutions into Lasting Change Achieving lasting change can be elusive.  Whether you make resolutions at the dawn of the New Year or at other times in your life, we all make promises to ourselves to change.  However, many times the firm commitments we make to ourselves fade like a sigh within weeks or months.  Those who exercise year-round will attest to the inevitability of their fitness centers becoming more crowded in January than during the other 11 months of the year.  So what gets in the way of adhering to the promises we make to ourselves?  We do. Significant and lasting behavior change is rarely achieved without also looking inward.  Whether you call them your demons, your hang-ups, your vices, your quirks, your outlets, your whatever, nobod...
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  • Dr. Dealer: America's Prescription Drug Epidemic

    Posted on December 16, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. The Surgeon General's Report and the US Prescription Drug Epidemic Trusted Physician or Neighborhood Drug Dealer? It is no secret that the United States has a serious problem when it comes to prescription drugs.  Heroin’s renaissance is puzzling to many, but the trail of evidence leads back to our own medical community.  This week’s article explores the current prescription drug epidemic in light of the recent Surgeon General’s report. The Surgeon General’s Facing Addiction in America report includes startling statistics that paint a grave picture of the current epidemic in the United States.  Opioids alone account for nearly 300 million prescriptions every year and have accordingly taken the crown for most prescribed medications in the U.S.  The addicti...
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  • In Memoriam of David H. Jacobs, Ph.D.

    Posted on December 12, 2016
    David H. Jacobs, Ph.D. 1945-2016 In Memoriam Our brilliant and beloved colleague, David Jacobs, died last month. He had been with Practical Recovery since 2003. David was a therapist’s therapist. In our era most therapists rush to learn the latest evidence-based techniques. David was not opposed to new ideas, but his focus was on continually refining the basics of the psychotherapeutic art: listening well, responding authentically, developing a relationship that is simultaneously a working relationship and to some extent a personal one, all in service of fundamental change, perhaps in both parties. I believe that all of us at Practical Recovery benefited from our collaboration with this therapeutic sage. We will miss him deeply.   With the permission of his wife the home...
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  • Defects of Character: A Defective Way of “Helping”

    Posted on December 9, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Defects of Character: Helpful or Hurtful? This week’s article explores the widely accepted, rarely contemplated idea that identifying defects of character is helpful in recovery.  Fault, failing, weakness, flaw, shortcoming, and inadequacy are all synonyms for the word defect.  Character refers to the mental and moral qualities of an individual.  Thus, the ubiquitous phrase in the recovery world defects of character implies moral and psychological flaws and failings in an individual.  I will assume, perhaps incorrectly, that the idea of emphasizing defects of character arose as a method of advocating for personal growth through self-reflection.  Indeed, looking at the imperfections we all have is a valuable tool for self-growth.  However, the problem with th...
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  • Addiction as a Brain Disease? Cherry-Picking the Surgeon General's Report

    Posted on December 2, 2016
    Addiction as a Brain Disease? Cherry-Picking the Surgeon General’s Report by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. The Surgeon General’s “landmark” report is generating a fair amount of media attention and discussion.  While it is valuable that substance use and related issues are receiving more attention, the aspects of the report receiving the lion’s share of the limelight are disappointing. Yes it is a true, as many media stories highlight, the report refers to addiction as a chronic brain disease multiple times – 10 times in 428 pages by my count.  Unfortunately, the reporting stops there.  What is not covered in the media is that the Surgeon General’s report specifically states that addiction is a chronic brain disease, and the term addiction refers only to the most severe form of subst...
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  • Instant Gratification: This Thanksgiving Don’t Have the P.I.G.

    Posted on November 23, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Thansgiving and the Problem of Instant Gratification Somehow Thanksgiving, our holiday of gratitude, has morphed into a gluttonous melee of over-indulgence and excess.  If there is ever a time to practice coping with urges, resisting temptations, and moderate indulging, it is amidst the relentless onslaught of food and drink offerings that we are bombarded with throughout the celebratory festivities of November’s final Thursday. The P.I.G., or Problem of Instant Gratification, is a hallmark of the feverish consumer culture that abounds today.  As if the multitudinous dishes of the Thanksgiving meal weren’t enough, now we have trample-happy shopping sprees to add to the frenzied fervor of our most indulgent holiday.  One-click buying, drive-through “dining...
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  • A Recipe for Success in Addiction Recovery

    Posted on November 16, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Recovery from Addiction: One Person’s Recipe for Success Arguably the most meaningful aspect of working in a helping profession is receiving updates of success.  With permission from the individual and after removing identifying information, this week’s article shares one person’s recipe for continued success in changing a problematic pattern of substance use.  The following paragraphs are elements of the individual’s success story verbatim, with some minor changes to protect the individual’s identity. I write to give you a recovery update.  I want you to know that I truly am following the after-care plan.  I have been maintaining balance since I left, an aspect my previous self underestimated but now am benefitting greatly from.  Before moving I would m...
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  • Recovery and The Slow Death of Prohibition

    Posted on November 11, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. I often hear words of empathy from people struggling with the use of illegal substances offered to individuals struggling with the use of legal substances.  “I feel bad for you,” and “I can’t imagine having my drug of choice available in every store I go to,” are examples of the types of comments I hear.  The election this week brought more dents to the armor of substance prohibition, which raises important considerations for the world of recovery. Recreational cannabis use was legalized in Arizona, California, Maine, and Massachusetts on November 8, 2016, bringing the total number of states to legalize cannabis to eight.  The end of cannabis prohibition across the United States seems to be more a matter of how long it will take, not if it will happen.  ...
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  • Principles for Improving US Treatment for Problematic Addictive Behavior

    Posted on November 7, 2016
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP How can the United States improve addiction treatment? The ultimate goal of support for overcoming problematic addictive behavior is to improve individual health and well-being while reducing societal costs associated with the behavior.  Several countries (e.g., Portugal, Switzerland, the Netherlands) are much more effective than the US in providing this support, which can include professional services (treatment) as well as a variety of non-professional and informal support. Calling for Change in US Addiction Treatment In the US a rational, medical and psychological approach would improve a system that has been overly influenced by the punitive aspects of drug prohibition and the diversity-suppressing dominance of the 12-step spiritual approach (which ha...
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  • The Biggest Lies in Recovery, Pt. VI: Addiction as a Disease

    Posted on November 4, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. This week’s topic is the sixth and final installment in a series exploring lies that have permeated the recovery culture.  Thus far, lies about success, failure, everyone in recovery being the same, shaming, and labeling have been challenged.  While there are many more lies than six that have infiltrated the consciousness of recovery, I am forcing myself to stop here.  This final article may have saved the most controversial topic for last.  This article challenges the lie that we know “addiction” is a disease. There is no consensus amongst professionals or conclusive research that puts an end to the lively debate over whether or not “addiction” is a disease.  What research does show, however, is that believing “addiction” is a disease combined with a la...
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  • The Biggest Lies in Recovery, Pt. V: Labeling

    Posted on October 28, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Labels Can Actually Hurt the Recovery Process This week’s topic is the fifth installment in a series exploring lies that have permeated the recovery culture.  Thus far, lies about success, failure, everyone in recovery being the same, and shaming have been challenged.  This week’s article challenges the lie that people have to label themselves as an addict or alcoholic to successfully recover. There is no research that indicates people are more likely to recover from a substance use disorder if they label themselves as anything.  However, there is research that shows forcing people to identify as an addict or alcoholic can actually be detrimental to their efforts to change.  The latest diagnostic manual for professionals (DSM-5) recognized such research a...
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  • The Biggest Lies in Recovery, pt. IV: Shaming Inspires Change

    Posted on October 21, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. This week’s topic is the fourth installment in a series exploring lies that have permeated the recovery culture.  Thus far, lies about success, failure, and everyone in recovery being the same have been challenged.  This week’s article challenges the lie that shaming people helps them change a problematic pattern of substance use. There is a fundamental logical fallacy to the concept that shaming people helps them change.  The reality is that people change all the time, not just when they feel down on themselves.  In fact, substances are an excellent way to achieve a temporary break from shame!  Helping people feel better about themselves is much more useful than making them feel worse. Beyond the logical fallacy of shaming people to help them change,...
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  • Addiction Treatment: Why Individual Sessions are Important

    Posted on October 18, 2016
    by Tom Horvath, PhD, ABPP Why individual sessions in addiction treatment are important One of the most frequent complaints I hear from clients who have attended other treatment facilities is “I almost never had an individual session.” Why are frequent individual sessions unusual in US addiction treatment, and why are they important? Groups led by drug and alcohol counselors save money A business reason to provide treatment primarily in groups is to lower costs. All businesses want to save on labor costs. In many cases groups are oriented around a well-established curriculum, designed to help clients “get the program.” Getting the program typically involves accepting the perspective that “I have a disease, I need to go to meetings for the rest of my life, I can never drink again, my ...
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  • The Biggest Lies in Recovery, pt. III: All Addicts Are the Same

    Posted on October 14, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. This week’s topic is the third installment in a series exploring lies that have permeated the recovery culture.  The first article challenged the lie that perfect abstinence is the only way to succeed in recovery.  Last week’s article challenged the lie that most people in recovery fail.  This week’s article challenges the lie that all addicts are the same, which is often perpetuated by the phrase ‘terminal uniqueness.' Universal statements about any group of humans other than those who struggle with substance use are generally quickly dismissed.  Consider the absurdity of statements like, all mothers are the same, all children are the same, all men are the same, all politicians are the same, all criminals are the same, etc.  To dehumanize is to divest o...
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  • The Biggest Lies in Recovery, pt. II: Recovery Failure

    Posted on October 7, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. The Biggest Lies in Recovery, pt. II This week’s topic is the second installment in a series exploring lies that have permeated the recovery culture.  Last week’s article challenged the lie that success in recovery is perfect abstinence.  This week’s article challenges the closely related lie that most people in recovery fail. I often hear people toss around arbitrary and unfounded statistics in recovery like, “only 10% of people succeed,” and that deviations from perfect abstinence inevitably lead to “jails, institutions, and death.”  The bad news is that “professionals” sometimes contribute to the spread of these unhelpful lies.  The good news is that the lie that most people in recovery fail is unequivocally false. People often say that numbers don’...
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  • The Biggest Lies in Recovery, pt. 1

    Posted on September 30, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. This week’s topic is the first installment in a series that will explore lies that have permeated the recovery culture.  Lies selected for critique will share a common theme of being detrimental to progress.  The first lie on the chopping block is the lie of perfection. How strange would it be if a therapist treating depression told a client to never be sad again?  It would not be at all helpful to tell someone with a phobia of spiders to never encounter a spider again.  Substance use is the only area of mental health in which those being treated are burdened with demands of perfection.  Lifelong abstinence, or perfection, is the unjust measure of success in substance use.  Not only is basing success on perfection unreasonable, it is unethical. Someon...
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  • The Antidote to Depression

    Posted on September 23, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Depression and substance use often co-exist.  Substance use is a common method of coping with depression.  Thus, abruptly stopping the use of substances can result in the intensification of underlying depression.  It is important to have a specific understanding of what your personal experience of depression is in order to overcome it. Depression is often understood to be a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain.  While this understanding is certainly true, it is only part of the story.  The problem with understanding depression solely as a chemical imbalance in the brain is that it reinforces feelings of helplessness – a cornerstone of depression.  The truth is, the antidote to depression is indeed something that we have a tremendous amount of pers...
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  • How "Triggers" Steal Your Freedom in Recovery

    Posted on September 16, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Much is being said about changing the nomenclature in the treatment of problematic substance use.  The latest diagnostic manual (DSM-5) no longer uses the term ‘addiction.’  Anne Fletcher wrote about the value of cleaning up the language of addiction using powerful comparisons to other avenues of treatment.  She astutely pointed out that no therapist would tell people trying to lose weight that no progress would be made until they labeled themselves in a pejorative way.  Can you imagine a therapist telling someone who is overweight that before work can begin she or he must identify as a fat pig?  To do so would be unconscionable.  Yet, it is all but universal in the treatment of problematic substance use that an individual is told that no progress will be m...
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  • The Individualized Intensive Outpatient Program

    Posted on September 13, 2016
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP Practical Recovery’s IIOP The Individualized Intensive Outpatient Program To be clear: An Individualized Intensive Outpatient Program (IIOP) is not an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). An IOP is a group that typically meets three hours per day, three days per week. In addition, there may be one individual session per week. The IOP is the backbone of many outpatient addiction treatment approaches, and indeed, Practical Recovery offers one (which includes one individual session per week). One of the advantages of an IOP is that insurance companies are familiar with it, and tend to reimburse this service at a reasonable level. Nearly 20 years ago Practical Recovery introduced the concept of the Individualized Intensive Outpatient Program. This year we ar...
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  • Dealing With Difficult People

    Posted on September 9, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. We all deal with people who bug us every day. Sometimes the people who annoy us are our neighbors, our co-workers, or our family members. Improving our ways of dealing with difficult people can help us enrich our own lives and decrease urges to use substances to cope with uncomfortable feelings. A common precursor to substance use is emotional discomfort. A common source of emotional discomfort is conflict in relationships. Many people go to great lengths to avoid conflict in relationships. However, it is often much more useful to focus our energy on managing conflict in relationships rather than avoiding conflict altogether. When conflict arises in a relationship it is important to discuss the conflict when emotions are manageable and not extreme. Below...
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  • Linda Lewis: "I Swore it Would Not Happen to Me."

    Posted on September 2, 2016
    Linda Lewis shares her story. by Linda Lewis, Recovery Maintenance Counselor for Practical Recovery I’ve been preparing for my role as an addiction counselor all my life. From the time I was born, I was surrounded by people with addiction problems… life and death problems. Our family has a white sheep, one, my aunt Lois. She was the only stable person in my life for years. Not surprisingly, she is also the last of a large family who is alive and well. When I was 12, my step father , the good one, died drinking and driving. As for my biological parents, after sad chaotic lives, they both died in their forties because of their alcohol dependence. My father died of liver cirrhosis at 47. He spent years in and out of hospitals and mental institutions. Our relationship was strange and...
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  • Rethinking Responsibility in Recovery

    Posted on August 26, 2016
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Many lively debates arise in discussions on the relationship between freedom and responsibility. Many individuals think that with increased responsibility comes decreased freedom. Challenging this notion can be a pivotal turning point in recovery from problematic substance use. It is a natural human phenomenon to re-establish a sense of freedom when we feel our autonomy restricted. It follows then, that if we feel responsibilities are imposing upon our freedom, it is natural to rebel against those responsibilities. Substances are an excellent way to rebel. It is not an uncommon scenario for an individual to think, “I’m stressed out, I’m sick of all these work demands, whatever, I’m going to Vegas this weekend and I’m not going to think about any of it...
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  • What if the insurance companies are right?

    Posted on August 12, 2016
    By Reya Kost, Psy.D. According to Fonthill Counseling, “Insurance companies count on your ignorance, laziness and distractibility to avoid paying for services they are legally obligated to cover.”  Any person who has been responsible for getting treatment authorized, or utilization review, will tell you it is like going to battle.  The treatment staff is armed with what they believe is undeniable evidence of their client meeting “medical necessity.”  The insurance caremanager is tasked with finding anyway possible to justify a lower level of care, hence a lower payout, for the insurance providers.  For any veteran of the rehab industry, this is a tale as old as time.  “It’s not enough time.” “How can they expect someone to make it after only a week?”  “They have barely finished detox...
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  • Rebuilding Your Life After Addiction, Pt. 2

    Posted on July 1, 2016
    Rebuilding Your Life after Recovery, Pt. 2: Time Management Last week, we covered work ethic in terms of rebuilding your life after recovery. This week, we cover how to better manage your professional and personal life with time management skills. We all have busy lives managing several parts of our professional and personal life.  Do you have that friend that seems to always have extra time on their hands and seems to be able to get everything done in a day?  Do you also have that friend who seems to always be rushing, late to events or appears to be challenged with multi tasks? Managing our time effectively is a skill we can all improve upon. It is easy to get distracted or lose focus with so much going on in our lives, even though the concept itself is quite easy to understand. I...
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  • The Stigma of Addiction and the Inadvertent Contribution of the Recovery Community

    Posted on June 21, 2016
    Does the recovery community inadvertently contribute to the stigma of addiction? by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP Although the recovery community opposes stigmatizing individuals with addiction, the widespread use of the labels “addict” and “alcoholic,” and the view that addiction is a disease, actually contribute to the stigma of addiction. Alternative language, suggested here, could work against stigma rather than contribute to it. What is stigma? The Oxford English Dictionary defines stigma as 1) “a mark made upon the skin by burning with a hot iron (rarely, by cutting or pricking) as a token of infamy or subjection,” 2) “a mark of disgrace or infamy; a sign of severe censure or condemnation, regarded as impressed on a person or thing; a ‘brand,’” (this meaning is introduced as...
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  • Coping in Times of Tragedy

    Posted on June 17, 2016
    It can be challenging to stay sober when you're coping with tragedy. The recent shooting event in Orlando has brought to surface many emotions for our country. We continue to grieve this tragedy together and are finding that many people are experiencing anger, sadness, confusion, grief and anxiety.  With a surge of emotions that arise in response to tragic events, it is understandable that some of us may experience temptations to return to our addictive behaviors in order to cope with stress and loss.  It is important to understand that this is a normal reaction and a part of recovery. It is also important to know that while the urge may be there, we do not need to give in. Now is the time to call on those new coping tools we've been working on! Some common reactions to tragic events:...
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  • Rebuilding Your Life in Recovery: Part 1

    Posted on June 10, 2016
    Rebuilding Your Life in Recovery: Improving Your Work Ethic Returning to the workplace after rehab can often be a scary transition. We worry about what people will think, what they know about where we were, and whether we will be judged.  The reality is that re-entering the workplace is a vital piece of recovery as we navigate life again outside of our engagement with addictive behaviors.  While this can be an exciting step it can also be nerve wracking. Going back to work requires us to comply with structure, accountability, socializing with others and daily mental stimulation.  Working allows for us to access areas of creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and building relationships. This can be a very positive outlet as we transition out of treatment and back into life’s res...
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  • Men and the Stigma of Addiction

    Posted on May 20, 2016
    Have you noticed the stigma that exists when it comes to men and addiction? It is no secret that the stigma of males in relation to addiction exists in our society today. While it’s widely understood that this is a complex issue, it’s often oversimplified and overlooked.  The stigma may include anything from negative attitudes towards those who may be overindulging in addictive substances or behaviors, to critical beliefs about who specifically is affected by addiction.  The idea that men who are affected by addiction are weak, deserving of their fate and less worthy of care is so inextricably tied to our current societal views that it’s challenging to attempt the separation of addiction from shame and guilt. Most of us who are struggling with addictive behaviors find that the stigm...
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  • Women and the Stigma of Addiction

    Posted on May 13, 2016
    Are women stigmatized by addiction? When we think about the person who works a full time job, travels, enjoys a beer with sports, or finishes a long day in the office by going out to dinner and cocktails with a friend, which may turn into a late night of drinking, what type of person comes to mind? Is it a man or a woman? Are they single or married?  If we place a female in that scenario vs. a man, does it change the expectation of that person?  You see, although we’ve come a long way as a society when dealing with gender expectations and inequality, there are still deeply engrained prejudices that exist when we’re thinking about addiction. The behavior in the above scenario tends to be more widely accepted for men because “this is what hard working men do,” some might say. For some...
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  • Prince and the Opioid Epidemic

    Posted on May 10, 2016
    The death of Prince has left many wondering what really happened and whether circumstances could have been different.  Prince’s use of pain killers came as a surprise and many found it hard to believe he had been struggling with prescription drugs for quite some time. On April 20, two of Prince’s representatives, in hopes to intervene and find treatment for the artist, contacted Dr. Howard Kornfeld, a California based doctor who specializes in pain management and opioid addiction. According to CNN, Dr. Kornfeld sent his son, Andrew, a consultant from the pain management practice, to Prince’s estate, purportedly to take buprenorphine to the performer. It was Andrew Kornfeld and two of Prince’s representatives who found the singer unresponsive in an elevator and called 911. As the p...
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  • Real vs. Ideal Recovery

    Posted on May 10, 2016
    By Tom Horvath, Ph.D. How often have you heard the following statements? "Using buprenorphine (Suboxone, Bunavail, Zubsolv, etc.) or methadone is not real recovery." "Harm reduction is not real recovery." "Using psychiatric medications is not real recovery." "Moderation is not real recovery." “Real recovery” is widely viewed as abstinence from all intoxicating substances. You can still be in real recovery if you use (or over-use) caffeine, nicotine, and food, or engage or over-engage in potentially addictive activities (also termed processes or behaviors, including gambling, video games, pornography, sex, etc.). The real recovery perspective is that any use of intoxicating substances is very likely to, or will inevitably lead to returning to the previous level of (seve...
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  • Overcoming the Stigma of Addiction

    Posted on April 29, 2016
    Overcoming the Stigma of Addiction Stigmatization in our society is largely connected to the behaviors and concepts of our society, in part by the people that make up our community.  Many of us who struggle with addiction of any sort find it is often difficult to seek treatment out of fear of judgment, shame, or guilt.  There is an underlying fear of being given a stigmatized label.  Without this fear, individuals might feel more accepted and open to being vulnerable and asking family, friends or professionals for the help they need. Where does this stigma come from? The stigma is produced in the media, movies, television, books, and ultimately created characters that fit a description of an otherwise made up criteria.  The government continues to be active in creating solutions for...
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  • Preventing Relapse: The Role of Lifestyle Balance

    Posted on April 22, 2016
    In addiction recovery, if your life is filled with non-pleasurable activities, you are more likely to relapse. The relapse will provide an intense, but only temporary, satisfaction. Perhaps the greatest risk for imbalance comes when we are too focused on what we “should” do and not enough on what we want to do. Of course, we need to do what we should do, but with balance! Lifestyle balance can be considered from a number of perspectives. Below is a list (taken from Dr. Horvath's book, Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate, page 191) that you might use to consider how balanced you are: Work and relaxation Activity and contemplation (self-assessment) Duties and fun Long-term projects and momentary pleasure Alone time and social time Routine household chores and new proj...
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  • Acupuncture and Addiction

    Posted on April 15, 2016
    Does acupuncture help in the treatment of addiction? Chinese medicine, such as acupuncture, has long been used to treat an array of illness. More recently, Eastern methods have become increasingly popular within many addiction treatment approaches, as a supplement to other therapies.  Acupuncture is said to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and physical pain, cure insomnia, and even help soothe emotional problems. So what is acupuncture? Basically stated, it is Chinese therapy involving pricking the skin with small/thin needles. It is used to treat a variety of physical symptoms, improve mental health, balance emotional conditions and alleviate pain. Acupuncture is based on a theory of energy. As the theory goes, “chi,” also known as energy, flows through our body along pathways...
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  • Book Review: Too Much of a Good Thing...

    Posted on April 11, 2016
    Too Much of a Good Thing: How Four Key Survival Traits Are Now Killing Us by Lee Goldman, MD A review by Tom Horvath, PhD This book is packed with well-referenced scientific information to support the author’s suggestion that hunger, thirst and desire for salt, fear and anxiety, and ease of blood clotting, all originally crucial to human survival, have in the modern era turned against us and become significant causes of illness and death. Of course he is not proposing we give up any of these abilities and behaviors. However, unless we take more control of how they operate, or ameliorate their effects, we will increasingly suffer from them. The author is dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, the author of 450 scientific publica...
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  • Recovery from Addiction: Forgiving Yourself

    Posted on April 8, 2016
    Learning to forgive yourself in recovery is essential. Learning to forgive yourself is essential as you begin to do more self-healing in your recovery.  We often have a tendency to hold ourselves to such strict standards that we find no reason or justification to forgive ourselves.  Maybe you’ve found yourself in a certain situation, able to forgive someone else for even the harshest of pains yet you may be torturing yourself over a lesser offense. It is common to hold on to past mistakes that we feel are not forgivable out of fear of forgetting the hurt and repeating the behavior. So, we torture ourselves by replaying the feelings, punishment or guilt over and over again.  Staying in this cycle keeps us stuck. It is nearly impossible to truly move through the stages of healing while h...
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  • Recognizing and Changing Self-Defeating Behavior

    Posted on April 1, 2016
    Changing self-defeating behavior plays a major role in recovery and improved mental health. In life we find there are unavoidable difficulties we are bound grapple with.  It is absolutely normal to find yourself challenged in difficult situations, even making less-than-stellar decisions or find yourself in regret.  So what does self-defeating behavior mean? When we find ourselves repeating the same maladaptive behaviors over and over again we may describe the circumstance as being “stuck.” Any behavior you engage in that is self-sabotaging, that takes you away from what you want, or that distracts you from your goals is self-defeating behavior. These behaviors zap your vitality, leaving you exhausted and without access to the powerful energy you need to create your best life. Comm...
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  • NJ Hospital Reducing Use of Opioids to Treat Pain

    Posted on April 1, 2016
    In a unique move toward reducing opioid overuse, the emergency room of New Jersey’s St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, the busiest in the state, has decided to eliminate the use of opioids as the first defense against mild to moderate cases of pain. In an effort that has spanned a period of two months, the hospital’s Alternative to Opioids, or “ALTO,” program has managed to control the pain of 300 patients (that’s 75%) without the use of opioids. Through use of acetaminophen, ibuprofen and non-opioid pain blocking medications such as lidocaine injections, doctors and nurses have successfully been able to treat a number of different ailments such as kidney stones, chronic pain and other mild to moderate ailments. While the staff at St. Joseph’s still value the power of opioid...
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  • Self-Confidence vs. Self-Esteem

    Posted on March 25, 2016
    The difference between self-confidence and self-esteem: Confidence and self-esteem are often confused with one another, when in fact there is something unique and different to be said about them both individually.  "Confidence" comes from the Latin confidere, meaning "to trust." To be self-confident is to trust in oneself, particularly in one’s ability or aptitude to engage successfully or at least adequately with the world. The more successful and positive experiences we have in a designated area helps increase our self-confidence in that skill or area of interest.  However, it is possible to be self-confident in a specific area such as writing or sports, yet simultaneously feel insecure in another area (for example, cooking). "Esteem" is derived from the Latin aestimare, meaning, ...
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  • 14 Addiction and Recovery Movies to Add to Your Queue Right Now!

    Posted on March 16, 2016
    Revised and expanded from original Jan. 23, 2015 post In early recovery, many people feel like they suddenly have a lot of free time that they aren’t sure how to fill. Movies can be a great way to stay entertained for a couple of hours… and there is no shortage of films that are recovery oriented, and even inspirational. Here are a few of our picks: 1. The Anonymous People This documentary explores how social stigma about addiction has kept people in recovery silent and anonymous, and how that needs to change. It features many real-life stories of people in recovery, including public figures such as former NBA basketball player Chris Herren and actress Kristen Johnston. 2. The Shift In this film, Wayne Dyer explores how we find meaning in our lives. The interwoven tales o...
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  • A Look at Irrational Beliefs

    Posted on March 10, 2016
    Irrational beliefs are those that are untrue, don’t make sense, or are harmful to us. While we all have some irrational beliefs, we can learn to recognize them and challenge them. Here are some common types of irrational beliefs that can cause negative feelings and fuel addictive behaviors. 1. Demands—Telling yourself that you “must” or “should” do something often leads to frustration and emotional distress. Having overly rigid demands on yourself or others can lead to disappointment when those demands are not met. Instead, try telling yourself that you “want” or “would like” to do something. 2. Over-generalizations—This is also known as “all or nothing” thinking. Believing that you “always” or “never” do something may lead to feelings of frustration and helplessness. Instead, rec...
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  • We Can Get Addicted to Anything

    Posted on March 3, 2016
    Addictions typically develop to substances or activities that make us feel good. For instance, alcohol can relax us and cocaine can make us feel energized and happy. Substances that influence emotion because of their biochemical effects are called psychoactive. Even substances which are not “biochemically psychoactive” can become “psychologically psychoactive” because of learned associations to them. For instance, someone who drinks water after every workout might associate water and relaxation. Or an herbal tea (which has no caffeine) might be associated with peacefulness or relaxation. To help clarify the significance of substances or activities making us feel good, let’s make a comparison to something that makes us feel bad: phobias. Most of us are exposed to elevators, freeway dr...
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  • Naloxone: Everything You Need to Know

    Posted on February 26, 2016
    by Cheri Harkleroad Naloxone: Everything You Need to Know This guide offers all the essential information about naloxone - the lifesaving antidote for opioid overdose. The information here is NOT a substitute for medical advice - it is intended to serve as a general guide to increase overall awareness of naloxone. ALWAYS seek information from your doctor or pharmacist. According to the CDC there were 47,055 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2014, 28,647 of these deaths (61%) involved some type of opioid, including heroin." - Center for Disease Control Knowing how to use naloxone to reverse an overdose could mean the difference between life and death. By now most people have heard about naloxone, even if they're not quite sure what it is. Naloxone (Narcan, Evzio) has be...
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  • Labels in Addiction and Recovery

    Posted on February 19, 2016
    For some of us, there comes a time when we wonder if we are drinking too much, or using drugs too much. In our society, the next thought typically is, “Am I an alcoholic or an addict?”  This question naturally arises because almost everyone has heard, “You have to admit that you are an alcoholic or addict before you can be helped.” Because there is such widespread insistence that people label themselves with these terms, let us examine what these terms mean. Addicts and Alcoholics: What's In a Name? There are many individuals in the 12-step community (members of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, etc.) who call themselves alcoholics or addicts. These labels are considered important because they help members of the community (or fellowship, as it is often cal...
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  • 7 Ways Unhealthy Relationships and Substance Abuse are Related

    Posted on February 8, 2016
    #NowIsTheTime to end domestic violence and related substance abuse. Our very own Jessica Yaffa, president of The San Diego Domestic Violence Council, and founder/president of No Silence No Violence, kicked off a series of public service announcements in partnership with the San Diego Chargers. The campaign is geared toward encouraging adults to teach kids about healthy relationships and reduce domestic violence. We'd like to take this a step further and consider what this issue looks like when you add in substance abuse. “Violent relationships can have long-lasting effects on teens,” said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “Adolescent victims of violent relationships are at greater risk for substance abuse, mental health problems and further domestic violence." Unheal...
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  • On Being a SEN Master, Part 2

    Posted on January 29, 2016
    by A. Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP Part 1 of this 2-part series focused on the importance getting a good night’s sleep in recovery from addiction. Here, in the second part of this series, we focus on exercise and nutrition. Exercise The three components of fitness are endurance (of the heart-lungs, or “cardio”), strength and flexibility. The benefits of having a basic level of fitness are numerous: improved mood (lower stress), weight loss, prevention of many health problems, more energy, etc. Sleep also improves with exercise. The components of SEN can work together in a mutually reinforcing upward spiral of healthy living. If you have not been exercising regularly the simplest way to begin probably is walking. Of course, if you are under a physician’s care (or should be) it would ...
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  • On being a SEN Master, Part 1

    Posted on January 22, 2016
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP What did the Zen Master say to the hot dog vendor?  “Make me one with everything.” This article is NOT about gaining enlightenment.  Rather, I focus on gaining greater lifestyle balance and greater overall physical and emotional health.  The term SEN Master, which I coined a few years ago, emphasizes the benefits of good Sleep, Exercise and Nutrition.  Of course, there are other valuable health habits (not abusing substances, washing your hands regularly–so as not to spread germs, taking care of your teeth, limiting sun exposure), and other habits that indirectly promote health (having a good social life, having meaningful activities).  The term SEN Master, however, suggests that good sleep, exercise and nutrition are the core health habits. Physicia...
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  • CRAFT Training with Bob Meyers, Ph.D.

    Posted on January 20, 2016
    Practical Recovery presents: CRAFT training led by Dr. Bob Meyers! 2/29/16-3/2/16 in San Diego. Click here to register! CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) provides an evidence-based approach to helping families support loved ones who need additional assistance to overcome problematic addictive behavior. CRAFT provides an alternative approach to the 12-step based Al-Anon, and to “intervention,” often a surprise family meeting with the identified patient (IP). This surprise meeting is intended to motivate the IP to enter treatment. The goals for CRAFT are to improve the lives of Concerned Significant Others (CSOs), reduce the problematic addictive behavior of the Identified Patient (IP), and increase the IP’s motivation to enter treatment. Treatment initiation typ...
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  • Gambling: Fun & Games or Dangerous Addiction?

    Posted on January 15, 2016
    Expanded from original article published Jan. 30, 2015 Problem Gambling With the recent PowerBall win and the upcoming Super Bowl, we thought it was a good time to take a closer look at problem gambling. It doesn't matter if it's sports betting, casino gambling, lotteries, friendly wagers or even illegal street bets, all forms of gambling have the potential to become problematic and addictive in nature. Let’s be honest – the thrill of gambling (and winning) gets us pumped. For most people, gambling on the Super Bowl or participating in the office sports pool is just a source of entertainment and fun. But for some, gambling can become problematic and can even turn into a full-blown addiction. In fact, some estimates suggest that about 2 million Americans meet the criteria for gambli...
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  • Addiction is a Habit Not a Disease

    Posted on January 14, 2016
    Addiction as a Disease In the traditional addiction approach, which used by almost all treatment programs and support groups in the United States, addiction is a medical and spiritual problem. Attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or other 12-step groups is seen as necessary for recovery. AA’s 12 steps describe how recovery occurs by turning over one’s will and one’s life to the care of a higher power (God, as understood by each individual). A Fresh Perspective But there is an alternative viewpoint, in which addiction in its varying degrees is an extreme version of habit. Overcoming addiction then occurs using the same processes by which one changes other habits. To be sure, severe addiction can result in horrendous consequences, but even severe addiction can be changed using normal hu...
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  • Is Addiction a Disease?

    Posted on January 14, 2016
    Is Addiction a Disease? If you believe addiction is a disease, you won’t like this article.  I am writing for individuals who are not sure what to believe about addiction.  My hope is to persuade you that addiction is not a disease, but a type of habit you can learn to change just as you change other habits. With the substantial attention given lately to pictures of the brain on drugs, it would be easy to overlook the fact that the brain will look different moment to moment, and that anything we do (or take into our bodies) will show up somehow in a brain picture.  That different parts of the brain “light up” for different experiences is a basic fact of interest to neuroscientists, but what does it mean? Is addiction a disease? Then How Do You Stop? Let’s approach the question...
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  • How Society Should View Addiction

    Posted on January 14, 2016
    Addiction and Society Although individuals will view addictive behavior in many ways, based on their own beliefs and situations, society needs a comprehensive view of it. Addiction is one of the compelling problems of modern life. Almost all individuals need to manage desire better in a world increasingly filled with tempting activities and substances, and decreasingly filled with counterbalancing forces. Rather than just relying on individual self-control, perhaps our larger communities and society itself can help us respond better to our desires. From Food to Drugs, Most People Are Affected by Addiction Addiction affects nearly everyone. Currently in the US approximately 2/3 of the population is overweight. This proportion was only about 5% in 1900. We now have decreased physical...
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  • 5 Things You Should Tell Your Kids About Marijuana

    Posted on January 13, 2016
    Originally posted March 5, 2014 Talk to your kids about marijuana. There’s no denying America is trending toward leniency of marijuana laws. An important question raised is how this trend might affect teenagers and adolescents. While we can’t be sure whether a reform in marijuana laws would increase use among youth, we can be sure that one of our best counter-strategies is to learn how to talk about marijuana with teens and children. Below are 5 things about marijuana that every parent should discuss with their children: 1. Legality Marijuana is illegal in most states. For minors marijuana (and alcohol and cigarettes) are illegal in all states. The consequences of arrest and conviction can be considerable. Marijuana laws are different than alcohol laws. 2. Harm to the nervous s...
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  • How to Quit Drinking: 5 Tangible Steps

    Posted on January 8, 2016
    By Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. (originally posted March 2015) Discover how you can quit drinking (and using)... for good. Do you want to know how to quit drinking for good? While this can be a challenging task, it is definitely possible to quit an addictive substance and establish a happy, meaningful life in recovery. There is no one way to quit drinking; different paths work for different people. It may take some trial and error to find the recovery tools that work best for you. However, there are some general guidelines that you may want to consider when attempting to quit drinking. Read on for some helpful tips. 1. Make a commitment to change your drinking habits First and foremost, you need to make a commitment to change. Ask yourself why you want to quit drinking. Perhaps ...
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  • New Year’s Resolutions - The Successful Way

    Posted on January 1, 2016
    Originally posted December 26, 2014 As the new year approaches, many of us are considering the resolutions that we want to put in place in order to improve ourselves and/or our lives. Unfortunately, New Years resolutions often fail, typically within the first few weeks of January. Consider the following tips to increase your likelihood of successfully sticking with your resolutions: 1. Check your motivation for the resolution. —Is this really a change that you want to make (and feel ready for), or are you just feeling pressure to do so as you realize that time continues to pass? The more motivated you are, the more likely you are to be able to successfully stick to your resolution. Consider doing a cost/benefit analysis. If the costs of the old behavior clearly outweigh the benefi...
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  • 9 Reasons Not to Drink or Use During the Holiday Season

    Posted on December 18, 2015
    Need some extra reasons not to drink or use this holiday season? We've got you covered with these 9 benefits of staying sober. Print out the list and hang it up at home, keep it in your purse or pocket when you go out, or just take a mental note to remind yourself why you're not giving into the urge this season. 1. No Embarrassing Behavior Drinking and using too much can bring out our wild side. Skip the table dancing at the company party, the brawl at the bar, passing out at the parents' house or the number of other embarrassing things we do when intoxicated and celebrate the dignity of maintaining control this year. Your future self will thank you! 2. Build Your Confidence in Your Ability to Pass Up Drugs and Alcohol Take on the challenge of saying no during this time of indulgenc...
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  • A Shout Out to New Horizons in Hawaii

    Posted on December 14, 2015
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP When I began specializing in addiction treatment in 1985 I affiliated with the New Horizons outpatient network of providers. To my knowledge none of the original providers (nearly two dozen at one point) are still in practice. However, one newer practitioner works in Hawaii. Mark Turansky became involved some years after I left (to focus on the development of Practical Recovery). Mark and I met in 2014. I still appreciate many aspects of the New Horizons approach. In this article I focus on that approach and Mark’s activities. To place any recovery approach in context, nothing works for everyone, and almost any approach will work for someone. The challenge to providers is matching services, approaches and options with individuals who might benefit from ...
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  • Craving Happens, But You Choose Your Response

    Posted on December 11, 2015
    From Page 148 of "Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate: A Workbook for Overcoming Addictions," by Dr. Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP The occurrence of craving itself is beyond your control. There is no single act that can with certainty eradicate all future craving. There are steps that can influence its occurrence... but ultimately craving will show up when it shows up. What you do have full control over is what to do about craving. To reiterate a crucial point, if you think of a strong enough reason not to act on the craving, then you won't, and in time that craving and all craving will go away. For tips on coping with cravings, browse our blog!  
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  • Being Grateful for the Little Things

    Posted on November 27, 2015
    We've all had them - those moments of not feeling like we have enough. For some of us, it's an incessant drive to always have more - to keep up with the neighbors or our friends and make more money, have the best car, acquire the most toys, wear the nicest clothes, have the greatest job... and the list goes on. But it's so important that we take step back from the endless quest for more and remember all the little things to be grateful for - often, it's these things we take for granted which are really the things that bring us the most joy... we just forget to appreciate them. Stop for a moment and think about something simple that made you happy today. In fact, think of three things (this is one time when more is actually better), and recall each one with focused gratitude. Enjoy th...
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  • How to Help a Loved One Who Drinks Too Much

    Posted on November 17, 2015
    By Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP Does your loved one drink too much during the holidays? Or at any time for that matter? What’s the best way to respond? Here are some general guidelines for navigating this challenging time. Every person and situation is different, so these guidelines are just a beginning. Let’s start with what is ineffective and possibly harmful. Don't ignore the excessive drinking. Sometimes ignoring a problem is sensible, especially if it clears up later on its own. Here we assume it is not clearing up. Like drinking too much, ignoring problems is a short-term solution that masks, or tries to mask, something deeper. Looking for treatment for someone you love? Click here. Don't tell your loved one what to do or how to do it. Perhaps the most important fact about ad...
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  • Braves' Tommy Hanson: Suspected Overdose

    Posted on November 12, 2015
    29-Year-old former Braves pitcher, Tommy Hanson, was found unresponsive by tattoo artist Brandon Bond at a friend's home in Newnan, Georgia on Sunday. Hanson was taken to the hospital where he remained in a coma until his passing on November 9, 2015. While the death is still under investigation overdose is suspected, as mentioned in several places, including on Twitter. According to reports, a conversation between the reporting officer and emergency room personnel, led the officer to believe overdose was the cause of death. While the autopsy was completed on November 11, it could be 3 months before the toxicology report is completed and released, which will indicate the official cause of death. Our hearts go out to Tommy's loved ones as we continue to work toward increased awarene...
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  • Drinking More During Fall and Winter Months

    Posted on November 6, 2015
    Does it seem like you drink more during the fall and winter months? If it seems like you’re drinking more now that summer is over, you might be onto something. With shorter days, bad weather, stressful holidays and alcohol-laden parties, it makes sense that alcohol is looking more attractive these days. While it’s important to notice whether alcohol is becoming more of a problem for you, it’s even more important to know what you can do if you think you have a problem. Defining Problematic Drinking First things first, however. Let’s look at what defines moderate, heavy and binge drinking, so you can better determine whether you might have a problem with drinking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines drinking as follows: Moderate drinking is 1 dr...
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  • 3 Facts About Urges You Really Need to Know

    Posted on November 6, 2015
    Originally posted July 25, 2014 Urges (cravings) are a normal and expected part of quitting an addictive substance or behavior. They can be uncomfortable and intense. It takes a commitment to deal with them without giving in. However, here are some facts about urges that are helpful to keep in mind: 1. Urges are time-limited—Urges typically go away within minutes. No matter how uncomfortable an urge may feel, it is only temporary. 2. Urges are not harmful—Although they may be anxiety-producing and unpleasant, urges cannot cause physical harm. 3. Urges do not force you to drink/use—When you experience an urge, you still have a choice about whether to use or not. The urge will go away, whether or not you do. So when an urge strikes, try to keep it in perspective. Remember tha...
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  • 5 Ideas for an Awesome Sober Halloween

    Posted on October 30, 2015
    With Halloween kicking off the official holiday season, some of us in recovery (especially newbies) are faced with figuring out how to spend the holidays sober. Celebrating without drugs and alcohol can actually enhance the season, rather than make you feel like you’re missing out. Here are 5 ways to get your holiday season off to an awesome start with a fabulous Halloween! 1 – Decorate your house for trick-or-treaters Aim to be the spookiest house (or apartment) on the block. It’s not too late to go all out! Whether you choose to splurge on some decorations (after all, you have saved some money by not drinking or using), or decide to get creative on a shoe-string budget, there are tons of options. Give the kids something to talk about and see if you can be “that house” on the block t...
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  • Recognizing Your “Using and...” Connections

    Posted on October 23, 2015
    Whether it's drinking again, using drugs or overeating, people often slip and return to their old ways when they have stressful or emotional situations going on in their lives. Sometimes it’s just uncomfortable feelings that can cause a setback. For others, it’s the opposite: happy times or celebrations can be the triggers. Still, for others, it’s a double whammy: either up or down emotions can trigger addictive behavior. To prevent yourself from going backward or to get back on track if you do have a setback, it helps to first identify your “using and...” connections. That is, identify the situations, thoughts, and feelings that seem to lead you back to your old ways. Is it drinking (using drugs, or overeating) and... coping after a stressful day at the office? managing social di...
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  • Lamar Odom Overdose

    Posted on October 14, 2015
    Lamar Odom on Life Support After Drug Overdose Lamar Odom was found unconscious on Tuesday, October 13th, in Nevada. Reports say Odom was found at 3:30 pm, and was later rushed to the hospital. While at first there was some confusion regarding the cause of Lamar's condition, it was later reported that he had several drugs in his system, including cocaine and opiates. He is currently recovering after having been on life support due to a drug overdose. This comes during the month of Substance Abuse Prevention Month - a month dedicated by the White House as a month-long effort to raise awareness and prevent substance abuse and promote healthy individuals and communities. The campaign's aim is to reach out to schools and workplaces and empower individuals to make healthy decisions ...
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  • Journey Drummer Deen Castronovo

    Posted on October 13, 2015
    Journey Drummer Deen Castronovo Sentenced to Probation and Counseling for Domestic Violence and Drug Abuse Journey drummer, Deen Castronovo was issued a sentence Monday of 4 years probation and mandatory counseling for domestic violence and drug abuse. 51-year-old Castronovo pleaded guilty to multiple counts of domestic violence, menacing, unlawful use of a weapon and coercion. According to an article on the San Diego Union Tribune website, dated July 10, 2015, the rock band's drummer stated drug addiction as the reason for his actions. This is the drummer's second sentencing on charges of domestic violence. In 2012, Deen Castronovo was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and anger management classes. Marion County District Attorney states Castronovo faces more than ...
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  • Drunk Driver Streams Live Video of Herself Driving Drunk on Periscope

    Posted on October 13, 2015
    23-year-old Lakeland, Florida woman, Whitney Beall streamed real-time video on Periscope of herself driving drunk. The Persicope video (below) shows Ms. Beall repeatedly stating that she "is drunk," at one point making a right-hand turn, when she meant to go left. She admittedly had no idea where she was, stating, "this is bad guys." While some Periscope viewers were trying to discern whether the video was legitimate, several others pleaded with the woman to stop driving and reported her to police, who then logged on and saw the intoxicated woman's live video stream. Officer Mike Kellner eventually caught up to Beall and pulled her over, but not before the intoxicated driver hit a sign, a curb, and allegedly blew out her right front tire. Reports state police could smell alcoh...
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  • Addiction Treatment: Motivational Enhancement Therapy

    Posted on October 13, 2015
    Addiction Treatment: Understanding and Integrating Motivational Enhancement Therapy Guest Post by Jonathan Liss, Ph.D. Of course you have heard about Motivational Interviewing, and maybe Motivational Enhancement Therapy. However, if you are not involved with MI or MET regularly, the following summary would be good way to refresh your memory, and provide a springboard for including MI more regularly in your work. Thanks Dr. Liss for this article! Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) is a brief therapy, derived from Motivational Interviewing, designed to produce rapid, internally driven change for individuals in early stages of contemplation about the role of substance use in their life. Though non-directive, this brief (approximately four sessions) therapy aims to harness an ind...
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  • Defend Your Recovery and Mental Health During Seasonal Changes

    Posted on October 9, 2015
    With the end of summer comes shorter days, less sunlight, less time spent outdoors and, for some of us, a bit of a negative shift in our mood. Known as the winter blues or even Seasonal Affective Disorder (in more severe cases), this shift ranges from feeling a little down, sluggish, withdrawn, or even depressed, as the colder, darker days begin to replace the rejuvenating days of spring and summer. We all know that taking care of our mental health is a key component of our recovery, that’s why it’s critical we address any negative feelings which start to creep in – including those brought on by a change in the weather. While you can’t control the seasons, you can stave off some of those ill feelings. If your mood is beginning to fall with the leaves outside, try these tips for a ...
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  • 8 Tips for Better Sleep

    Posted on October 2, 2015
    Sleep is a crucial element of healthy recovery from addiction. “Without sleep, we all become tall 2 year olds.” -JoJo Jensen According to a study by Harvard Health, lack of sleep affects many aspects of our overall well-being, including memory, metabolism, mood, cardiovascular health and disease. In early recovery, sleep is especially important, giving you energy and willpower to cope with cravings and make rational decisions. There are lots of ways to set yourself up for a restorative night of sleep. Here are some reminders: Set a regular time for sleeping and waking up. Stick to this schedule! (Even on the weekends) Avoid consuming caffeine late in the day if you’re sensitive, after mid- to late afternoon. (According to information from the National Sleep Foundation, once in...
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  • Is Binge Drinking a Problem for You?

    Posted on September 25, 2015
    by Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. Many people see binge drinking as a harmless activity…a good way to relax on the weekend after a stressful week, or a way to celebrate a special occasion. In some settings, such as on a college campus, binge drinking is considered by many to be the norm. However, binge drinking can have harmful effects and can even signify a serious alcohol problem. Read on to learn a little bit more about the potential dangers of binge drinking. Some facts about binge drinking: According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a binge is defined as drinking five or more alcoholic beverages on a single occasion. Binge drinking is not uncommon in the U.S. In fact, the CDC estimates that one in six adults binges four times per month. Wha...
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  • JCAHO Certification Press Release

    Posted on September 21, 2015
    PRACTICAL RECOVERY AWARDED BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE ACCREDITATION FROM THE JOINT COMMISSION (San Diego – 9/21/2015) Practical Recovery today announced that it has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards. The Gold Seal of Approval® is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to providing safe and effective care. Practical Recovery underwent a rigorous on-site survey in August 2015. During the review, compliance with behavioral health care standards related to several areas, including care, treatment, and services; environment of care; leadership; and screening procedures for the early detection of imminent harm was evaluated. On-site observa...
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  • The New SEATA Site

    Posted on September 21, 2015
    The SEATA site is poised to become the leading resource for finding harm reduction and self-empowering US addiction treatment and recovery services. “Self-empowerment” is used to contrast the approach with powerlessness-based services. As Step 1 of Alcoholics Anonymous states, “We admitted we were powerless.” A SEATA provider will work to enhance the client’s capacity for self-regulation, with the ultimate goal (even if never realized) of having sufficient self-regulation to prevent problematic addictive behavior, rather than viewing oneself as indefinitely powerless. The site offers only free listings. These listings should encourage participation by all appropriate providers. The site also allows for reviews (as Amazon, Yelp and many other sites do). Free listings should also el...
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  • Recovery: Separating Using from the Stuff of Life

    Posted on September 18, 2015
    One recovery group states, “We know that when your addiction is over, your other problems will probably fade or disappear, and that in a consistently abstinent state, you will find solutions to the problems you face.” Indeed, life tends to get better as you remove a major source of your problems. But some people are really bummed to find out that once they stop using drugs and alcohol, their problems don’t just disappear and they really have to do the hard work of separating using from the stuff of life. In other words, long-term recovery can involve much more than just giving up your drug(s) of choice. It also includes learning how to cope with life’s ups and downs without a glass or bottle in your hand or without turning to drugs. So many of those past associations are strong – for...
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  • Cultivating Happiness

    Posted on September 11, 2015
     At Practical Recovery, we believe in self-empowerment and creating a life that is enjoyable, fulfilling and healthy. Stop and think: What are some things that make you happy? Taking small steps like the ones below will add to your quality of life. Express gratitude Find meaning in your work Take risks Include small bursts of joy in your day to help you refuel (i.e. listen to your favorite song, think of someone you love, eat a small piece of chocolate) Embrace silence Volunteer and expect nothing in return Invest in your body (sleep, exercise, nutrition) Avoid comparing yourself to others    
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  • Staying Sober on Labor Day

    Posted on September 4, 2015
    Labor Day, like other holidays, can be challenging for people in recovery (and especially early recovery). You may feel like everybody else is drinking and partying, while you are missing out. But in reality, there are lots of ways to celebrate holidays while still staying on track with your goals. Here are some tips for ways to enjoy the holiday, without compromising your recovery: 1. Make plans with supportive/sober friends You may want to avoid gatherings and events where people are likely to be drinking heavily, but that doesn’t mean that you have to sit home alone! Reach out to friends who are also in recovery, or friends who are supportive of yours. Let them know that you don’t want to put yourself in a risky situation, but that you’d still like to celebrate the holiday. There a...
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  • Parents Drinking More When Kids Go Back to School

    Posted on September 1, 2015
    Are you drinking more now that the kids are back in school? It’s that time of year again… as summer is winding down, kids are getting ready to go back to school. Some parents have been anxiously awaiting the first day of school, looking forward to having a little more kid-free time to accomplish necessary tasks (and maybe even to sneak in a brief moment of rest!). But back to school time can also be a stressful experience for parents for a variety of reasons. First of all, it’s a time of transition, when the daily routine is changing. For parents who stay home to care for their children, the days may suddenly feel empty or boring when the kids are gone for most of the day. While you were used to being constantly busy all summer long, you may now find yourself with some downtime and ...
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  • Social Media as a Recovery Tool

    Posted on August 28, 2015
    By Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. There are many different tools available to aid in recovery, and social media is definitely one of them! Here are some social media sites that can support you in your recovery: 1. Facebook Facebook is a great way to connect with friends both near and far, including friends who are in recovery. Additionally, you can “like” pages that support recovery. For example, Practical Recovery has a Facebook page that shares inspirational quotes, interesting articles, and other posts that can help keep you focused and feeling good about recovery. 2. Instagram Instagram is another great way to stay connected with your support system, and to seek out new people who share your interests and passions, including recovery. You can search for hashtags such as #sober an...
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  • Is Your College Student Drinking or Using Drugs?

    Posted on August 21, 2015
    Spring break just came to an end, and we know for many families that means school is back in session. For lots of parents, particularly those of us with college students, this past break was a great time for checking in on our young adults; making sure they were making wise decisions, staying healthy and being the responsible people we’ve raised them to be. Regardless whether this is the first year of college for your young adult, or they’re finishing up their final year, it is imperative that you remain aware of the possibility of increased drug and alcohol use while on campus. More parties and less supervision means several opportunities to explore and experiment with many things, including drugs and alcohol. It’s important that, as parents, we know some of the signs that our child...
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  • Staying Positive After a Slip

    Posted on August 21, 2015
    by Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. Recovery from addiction is rarely a straight path; for most people, it involves some slips and mistakes along the way. Even though slips happen to most people in recovery, they can be very tough to deal with, eliciting feelings of shame, guilt, and even hopelessness. However, allowing those feelings to overwhelm you can actually lead to further slips and a full-blown relapse. While it can be challenging, it is often beneficial to stay positive after having a slip. Here are 4 tips for doing just that: 1. Challenge Your Negative Beliefs What are you telling yourself about your slip? Perhaps you are telling yourself that all of your progress has been lost, or that recovery is completely hopeless. Maybe you are labeling yourself a loser. Such negative though...
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  • Craving Is Not Dangerous

    Posted on August 14, 2015
    from Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP Chapter 9 of Dr. Horvath's book: Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate: A Workbook for Overcoming Addictions helps readers understand craving. We've included here the section, "Craving Is Not Dangerous." Besides fearing the discomfort of craving, some individuals fear that the state of craving itself is somehow dangerous or harmful. Perhaps if I experience a craving long enough, I will go crazy, or run screaming from where I am, or do something really embarrassing? In Chapter 7 I noted that the best predictor of the future is the past. How much damage has a craving actually done to you? By comparison, how much damage have you feared? The danger of craving is that it increases the possibility of engaging in...
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  • Addictive Behavior Unites Us

    Posted on August 11, 2015
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP This blog is a follow-up to last month’s blog about an evolutionary approach to understanding problematic addictive behavior. To summarize, that blog suggested that addictive behavior is normal human behavior. We all normally crave (desire, have urges for) food, sex and the attention of others. These three primary addictive behaviors are strongly reinforced as pleasurable activities, and they are essential to our survival. The modern world also provides us with other substances and activities that, through experience, we might also learn to crave. These addictive behaviors are not essential to our survival, but sometimes we pursue them as if they were. Although involvement with these secondary addictive behaviors does not necessarily lead to problems, it d...
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  • Then and Now: Integrating Two Pieces of a Dichotomous Self

    Posted on August 7, 2015
    Sometimes as we get further away from our addiction, we begin to notice a disconnect between who we were and who we are. Recovery can bring with it an entire lifestyle change including new friends, new associations, new values and new ways of interacting with our environment. It’s not uncommon to feel as though there is a dichotomy between two versions of our self; a division between who we were in the past and who we are in the present. And, naturally, we might feel as though our past self is out of place in the way we live our life now. It can be tempting to tuck that part of us away; to erase that part of our history and pretend it didn’t happen. And that makes sense – we aren’t that person now and don’t want to be judged based on something some people don’t understand. Maybe we h...
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  • Dating In Recovery: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

    Posted on July 30, 2015
    So you’ve begun to get the cravings under control and are starting to rebuild your life. You’re changing habits, changing your thinking and feeling hopeful about the future. As you begin to find more enjoyment throughout your days, you might also be thinking it would be nice to have someone to share all these beautiful things with. But before you jump head first into dating, or a relationship, you need to ask yourself if you’re really ready for dating in recovery. While finding that special someone to share your life with has many benefits, it’s also a big responsibility. Below are four questions to help you decide whether it’s time to write dating into this chapter of your life. 1. Have you given yourself enough time to develop your ideal version of you? Often during active addiction...
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  • Benefits of Yoga

    Posted on July 17, 2015
    In our fast-paced society, it can be easy to get caught up in running around and forgetting to de-stress. Self-care, including reducing our stress levels, is an integral part of the recovery process. Thankfully, there are some easy ways to slow down and reduce every day stress, including yoga. With several benefits in addition to stress reduction, yoga becomes an easy choice when looking for new ways to decompress. Here, we look at 3 of the additional benefits of yoga. Increased Strength First of all, yoga increases your strength. By holding your body in proper form, you gain strength in your upper and lower body, as well as your core. You can choose more demanding styles of yoga, such as Ashtanga or Iyangar to build up more strength, but all forms will contribute to overall strength ...
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  • Addiction and Recovery: An Evolutionary Perspective

    Posted on July 14, 2015
    By Tom Horvath, PhD, ABPP All species aim to survive. They do so by seeking out some experiences and avoiding or escaping others. The behaviors associated with addiction and recovery can be understood in this larger context of survival, approach and avoidance. The implications of an evolutionary perspective for addiction include new definitions for commonly used addiction terms, and a revised approach to addiction treatment and recovery. Addictive Behavior: Primary addictive behavior is pleasurable survival behavior. All species engage with the environment in order to survive. Depending on the level of consciousness of the species, the repetitive involvement with these essentials is experienced as pleasurable. Survival essentials include food, sex, and in some mammals attachmen...
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  • Coping With Craving: The Timer Technique

    Posted on July 10, 2015
    In his book, Sex Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate: A Workbook for Overcoming Addictions, Dr. Horvath discusses the use of a timer to cope with cravings. We’ve included the following excerpt so you can practice this technique, starting today! While this technique might also be considered a distraction technique, active distraction is not used. You can use the timer technique for a craving of any strength. When you experience a craving, set the timer for an amount of time you are very confident you won’t act on the craving. For instance, if you are confident you can withstand the experience of the craving, however you do it, for at least 3 minutes, then set a timer for 3 minutes. While the timer is on, begin doing other activities. When the timer goes off, there is a good chance that th...
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  • Mocktail Recipes for Summer Parties

    Posted on July 1, 2015
    Deciding not to drink at the summer parties this year? We totally support you. That's why we've scoured the Internet for some of the best mocktail recipes out there. Here are our favorites: Orange Earl Grey Iced Tea Ingredients: ¼c loose tea or 12 Earl Grey teabags Peel of one orange Instructions: Steep tea and orange peel in 4 c boiling water Add sugar and stir until dissolved Add cold water and refrigerate until chilled Serve in mason jars and garnish with orange slices Blended Strawberry Basil Lemonade Ingredients: ¼ c fresh basil leaves 4 strawberries hulled 1 lemon, peeled and halved 4 strawberries, hulled 4 tbsp honey or agave 1/2c-1c ice cubes Instructions: Blend all ingredients together Serve in mason jar and garnish with a sprig of ...
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  • Party-Time: Enjoying the Holiday Party Season... Sober

    Posted on July 1, 2015
    Originally posted 12/11/2013, revised for 2015 holidays Tips for making the holiday party season a sober success! It's no surprise - alcohol is a staple of the holiday season. This can prove to be a tough challenge for individuals in recovery but with a little planning and strategy, the holidays can be an enjoyable and successfully sober experience! Following is a list of suggestions for non-drinkers when they’re in social situations involving alcohol, as well as tips for friends and family so everyone can enjoy the party: For the Non-Drinker: BYO – bring your own nonalcoholic drinks to the function. (If it’s a big party, no one will notice.) Create your own cocktail – for instance, ask the bartender to mix cranberry juice, a splash of orange juice, club soda and add a pi...
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  • The Recovery Maintenance Plan: Much Bigger Than Relapse Prevention

    Posted on June 26, 2015
    By Linda Lewis, CADCII A year or so ago Practical Recovery began using the term recovery maintenance in place of relapse prevention. Why? Because it fits our model so much better. The idea is simple: If you focus on maintaining your recovery, you can worry less about relapse. If you build a life that supports you in not using, it becomes a lot easier to resist bad choices. Recovery maintenance is more about having a well-rounded plan, so you can focus more on living well. Rather than focusing on avoiding relapse (which, of course we hope to do), a good recovery maintenance plan has a “what if I relapse” section to prepare for it. I’ve had clients in the past who refused to face the possibility of relapse and they did not do well. I’ve found that if someone does not plan for the po...
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  • Home from College: Drugs, Alcohol and Parenting the Adult Child

    Posted on June 25, 2015
    It’s no secret: college students often develop a lifestyle and habits that fall outside the family value system in which they were raised. This can include experimentation with drugs and alcohol, which can be quite alarming for parents. Not only is the actual substance use concerning, but parents also face the challenge of navigating this new stage of parenting an adult child, and that can be scary, too. Sure, you want to encourage them to think for themselves, grow in maturity, and be an individual, but you may also wonder if you’ve taught them enough to make good decisions, stay safe and be responsible. How do you know what is “normal” for this stage of life and when to seek help? Is your college student using or drinking more than they should? Learn more about the warning signs...
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  • Summer Vacations: Dealing with Triggers to Drink or Use

    Posted on June 19, 2015
    Memorial Day weekend is here! For many of us, that means vacation time is just around the corner! And with vacation comes the possibility of a trigger we don’t face on a regular basis. The following tips will help you navigate the summer travel season with success and still have fun! If you are feeling particularly uncomfortable with cravings (whether new to recovery or just feeling vulnerable), this might not be a great time to schedule that vacation to Cancun, or any other place that is known for its party scene. Try booking a trip to a destination with a focus on history, cuisine, outdoor activities or spa treatments instead and save the bigger challenges for another time. Try choosing a destination that has several different options for entertainment – zip lining, cultural...
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  • The Fatigue Principle

    Posted on June 12, 2015
    Adapted from Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate: A Workbook for Overcoming Addictions by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP In his workbook, Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate, Dr. Horvath includes an entire chapter on craving (Chapter 9). Of particular interest in this post is what Dr. Horvath calls the fatigue principle. As Dr. Horvath notes, "unless you are experiencing a craving at the moment, every craving that you have ever had has gone away. Either you engaged in the addiction (which makes the craving go away), or it went away on its own (although you might not have realized it would). Even if you had wanted to continue the craving, it would have gone away." Dr. Horvath goes on to explain that this is due to the central nervous system's state of constant change. It's almost as...
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  • What Is Recovery, Really?

    Posted on May 22, 2015
    By Guest Author Lesley Wirth, Consultant for The Restoration Inn There seems to come a time in everyone’s journey where one stands at the precipice of claiming that which is rightfully theirs: a connection to his or her inherent value as a worthy and deeply lovable person. In hindsight, I see that this was where I was standing years ago, as I began to reclaim my identity from that of a “broken” person to a woman who simply needed some love, acceptance, and assistance. I was broken-hearted not broken. As a woman who has had a 20-year journey with food compulsion, eating disorders, and exercise compulsion, I will be the first to tell you there is no magic formula for recovery. The solution is letting go of the misperceptions of ourselves, one at a time, and becoming more open and ho...
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  • The Tipsy Mom: Coping Our Way Through Motherhood

    Posted on May 13, 2015
    by Cheri Harkleroad Ah Yes, Motherhood. Certainly rewarding, yet undeniably one of the toughest jobs there is. From the sleep deprivation, isolation and endless demands of the early years, to our status as referee during the toddler years, the navigation of the school years, and survival of the teen years, motherhood is HARD. And let’s face it, many of us are often left feeling a little overwhelmed, challenged, and in need of ways to cope. Coping For some of us, coping comes in the form of a babysitter and a latte with a girlfriend. For others, maybe it’s spending some time at the spa or getting lost in a good book. But for some, the easiest escape is found in a drink or two. And it makes sense: alcohol is cheap, readily available and can provide immediate relief after a hard day. ...
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  • "Recovery" vs. "Recovered"

    Posted on April 10, 2015
    by Devon Berkheiser Recovery: A Lifelong Process? In the traditional 12 step approach to addiction treatment, members identify themselves as “alcoholics” or “addicts.” They are commonly told that addiction is a chronic disease, one that will never fully go away regardless of how long they maintain abstinence. This approach can work for many people. Some find it useful to identify themselves with such labels as “alcoholic” because it is a way for them to stay humble and to use that label in a safe setting, minimizing feelings of shame. Also, the idea that recovery is a lifelong process can help people stay vigilant and avoid the pitfalls of complacency. However, for other people, this approach can feel hopeless and shaming. The idea of saying that one can never really be free from a...
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  • From AA to AfA: What Works?

    Posted on April 8, 2015
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program." - AA's Big Book, Chap 5, "How It Works," opening lines Is AA effective? It is my understanding that, at present, the studies that would be required to answer that question have not been conducted. If they were conducted, I suspect AA would be found helpful for some individuals (which is the most powerful statement you can make about any approach to recovery). The recent arguments in the media about AA's effectiveness (Glaser, Singal; and many prior) are important but a secondary issue in the day-to-day work of encouraging addiction recovery, which is about finding wh...
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  • Staying Safe: Sexual Violence, Substance Misuse & The Restoration Inn

    Posted on April 3, 2015
    Our very own Jessica Yaffa speaks to KUSI about sexual violence, how to stay safe and The Restoration Inn!  
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  • A Review: The Business of Recovery

    Posted on April 2, 2015
    A documentary film directed by Adam Finberg and produced by Greg Horvath | Review by Tom Horvath, Ph.D. What do you really know about the addiction rehab industry? Like most people, you may be under the impression that addiction treatment is a life-saving, highly ethical enterprise, with services provided by highly trained professionals. You might also think these professionals utilize addiction treatment methods based on the latest scientific research and hold themselves accountable to the highest standards. If so, you will likely have a very different perspective after you see this film. The Business of Recovery is a must-see film for every one of us. In the US alone, more than 2/3 of families have been touched by addiction and over two million people enter some level of addictio...
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  • Building Trust in Recovery

    Posted on March 24, 2015
    By Devon Berkheiser You can build trust again! Often, building trust with loved ones is a significant part of the recovery process. It’s not uncommon for people in the midst of an addiction to engage in lying, sneaking, and other behaviors that create a loss of trust in relationships. While it can be daunting to think about repairing your important relationships, here are 5 ways to help you manage the process: 1. Be patient First and foremost, recognize that rebuilding trust takes time. Addictive behaviors may have occurred over a span of many years, so it’s not realistic to think that you’ll be able to regain trust immediately. Your friends and family members have their own feelings to work through, so give them time and space for that. It’s normal to want to make things better...
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  • Staying Friends with Using Buddies

    Posted on March 23, 2015
    By Devon Berkheiser In early recovery, many people face a choice: whether to continue friendships with people who may still be using or to end those friendships in order to protect their own sobriety. This is not always an easy decision to make. Some using buddies may actually be long-term friends, and it can be hard to handle another important loss when you’re already dealing with so many changes in your life. Additionally, you may not have sober friends, which leaves you with the option of going back to old friendships or essentially starting over, which can feel overwhelming. If you do decide to maintain friendships with friends who are not sober, here are tips to help you manage the situation: 1. Evaluate the risk Some using buddies may be supportive of your new sobriety while ...
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  • Making Amends

    Posted on March 20, 2015
    by Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. For members of AA/NA, making amends is part of the program. The 9th step of the 12 steps is to make direct amends to people that have been hurt. Practical Recovery and SMART Recovery don’t have a specific recommendation about making amends, but many people in recovery want to repair and rebuild their relationships. In order to do so, it’s often necessary to address hurt that has been caused by your addictive behaviors. Here are some tips for making amends… the Practical Recovery Way. 1. Acknowledge your role The first step toward repairing relationships is taking responsibility for your role in their breakdown. When feeling ashamed, it’s tempting to avoid addressing the issue altogether or try to deflect those difficult feelings by blaming the other pers...
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  • Baby Boomers and the Rise of Drug Use Among Older Adults

    Posted on March 16, 2015
    Is being middle aged a risk factor for drug use? We didn’t think so, until now. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal looked at the increase in drug abuse, drug-related arrests and overdoses among older adults. Why are we seeing this trend? Well, it appears that as Baby Boomers are moving into later middle age, they are bringing their habits with them. For many Boomers, growing up in the turbulent 60s was synonymous with substance use (and lots of it), and many still identify with that phase in their lives. While there are several reasons aging could trigger drug use, one reason is immediately clear: aging can be physically painful. With age comes ailing bodies. With ailing bodies often come surgeries, pain, sickness and ill-health. Understandably, the ailments of age are often...
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  • The Cost of Rehab: Why Is Rehab So Expensive?

    Posted on March 16, 2015
    Are you wondering how much it costs to go to drug and alcohol rehab? The fees for residential rehab range widely, from under $5,000 per month to well over 10 times that amount. What should rehab cost, and what should it include? There are some obvious costs (as well as some hidden expenses) that affect the quality of your experience and possibly your outcomes. There are many things to consider when looking for the right treatment setting for your client, yourself or a loved one. The House In California any single family home can be licensed for up to six beds, without requiring special zoning approval. These houses-turned-rehabs vary widely in terms of size, location, and amenities. Some rehabs offer private bedrooms for all, others offer shared rooms with up to 3 or 4 per room. Some...
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  • 7 Books About Addiction and Recovery You Need to Read!

    Posted on March 12, 2015
    By Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. Just as there are many different ways to recover, there are many different resources available to help in recovery. One great resource is books, and there are practically an unlimited number of options! From self-help books to autobiographical accounts, here are our picks for interesting and inspiring recovery-oriented books: 1. "Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom," by Rick Hanson This book focuses on more than just addiction, exploring how readers can work toward greater overall well-being. It provides information about the core functions of the brain (regulating, learning, valuing), along with practical applications of neuroscience to everyday life. 2. "Her Best Kept Secret," by Gabrielle Glaser In this info...
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  • 5 Tips for Getting Used to Normal Life

    Posted on March 6, 2015
    By Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. Recovery is a major change that affects your entire lifestyle. When your energy is not spent on obtaining or using a desired substance, you might wonder what to do with your time or how to exist in “normal” life. Additionally, it’s common for people in early recovery to experience something of a slump after the first few weeks of sobriety. Perhaps you were expecting everything to be magically better once you got sober, but instead feel disappointed with the somewhat mundane nature of life in recovery. Although it can be a big transition, there are some things that you can do in order to make the adjustment to regular life easier. Here are 5 tips for getting used to normal life: 1. Learn to tolerate boredom and discomfort While we all want to experien...
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  • Adderall and Ritalin: The Rise of Study Drugs

    Posted on March 2, 2015
    Dr. Horvath talks to KUSI news about study drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin and the importance of finding balance between studying and enjoying the college life. KUSI News - San Diego, CA
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  • Recovery Organizations You Might Not Even Know About

    Posted on February 27, 2015
    Looking for some additional recovery support? While 12-step support networks such as AA and NA are the most widely-known, it’s important to know that, just as with addiction treatment, you have choices when it comes to recovery support. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of self-empowering organizations that offer resources for mutual- and self-help support. The Best Approach to Recovery We strongly believe that the best approach to recovery is the one that works for you. You may find one of these organizations to be just what you need. Or, you may find the support you need through 12-step oriented groups. Maybe you’ll even decide to combine different approaches and customize your recovery support to fit your needs. Whatever you decide, remember it’s your journey – choose the path that’...
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  • DIY Moderate Drinking

    Posted on February 26, 2015
    Are you interested in moderating or cutting back your drinking? Many individuals are! Here are two books which provide everything you need to know about moderate drinking. Responsible Drinking: A Moderation Management Approach for Problem Drinkers This book, by Rotgers, F., Kern, M. & Hoeltzel, R. (CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2002) is the basic text of Moderation Management (MM), a support group which helps individuals moderate drinking, or abstain. The first two authors are addiction experts who also volunteer on MM’s Board of Directors. The final author was successful in the MM program. MM offers a summary of its program on its website, and you might wish to start there: This book, which provides in-depth coverage of MM’s rationale, the scientific rese...
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  • Watching Porn is a Bad Adaptation to Marital Dissatisfaction

    Posted on February 25, 2015
    Porn Addiction Pornography and Relationships: For Better or Worse? Originally written by David H. Jacobs, Ph.D., revised and edited by Practical Recovery Staff I’ve repeatedly read that the internet is most frequently used for viewing pornography. This leads me to believe that a lot of people, presumably mostly men, are viewing porn. All the men who have come to me for help with an internet porn addiction have one thing in common: their wives (sometimes girlfriends) have caught them looking at porn. This, in turn, created a relationship crisis. The woman’s position is that the man must immediately seek treatment and end the behavior, while the position of the man is that the only way to end the relationship crisis is to immediately seek treatment. As you can see, these two po...
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  • A 25-Year Retrospective Review:

    Posted on February 24, 2015
    Broadening the Base of Treatment for Alcohol Problems  By Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP I remember the excitement I felt when this book was published in 1990. I had been assured by knowledgeable sources that this book would re-set the direction of alcohol treatment in the US, and have a positive influence on other substance treatment as well. The authorship was authoritative: The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Signed into existence in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, the National Academy lives up to its slogan: “Where the nation turns for independent, expert advice.” It is considered by many the most prestigious scientific organization in the country. Congress regularly funds it to produce reports for their review. This book was such a report. Public Law 99-...
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  • The After Party: Building a New Life in Recovery, Part III

    Posted on February 19, 2015
    Developing Good Health Habits in Recovery Last week, in Part II of this series, we looked at finding a healthy balance between momentary and long-term satisfactions. Below, we’ll look at one more component of building a new life in recovery – developing good health habits. Whether you’re in recovery from addiction or not, good health habits are the cornerstone of overall well-being. In such a fast-paced society, with so much to do and so many distractions, it is more important than ever to remember to take care of ourselves and our bodies. Below are the 7 essential health habits Dr. Tom Horvath discusses in chapter 12 of his book, “Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate.” 1. Get Enough Sleep It’s likely that when you were actively pursuing your addiction, sleep fell to the wayside. ...
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  • SDSU Greek Outreach: Sex, Alcohol, Fun, Abuse

    Posted on February 17, 2015
    Our very own Jessica Yaffa and Dr. Horvath presented at an event sponsored by SDSU's Greek community. They covered tough issues such as sexual assault and the role alcohol plays in sexual abuse. This major event was covered by 3 local media outlets including channels 5, 6 and 8. See the Fox 5 clip below!
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  • The After Party: Building a New Life in Recovery, Part II

    Posted on February 13, 2015
    Finding Balance in Recovery Day-to-day balance is an important element in relapse prevention. Too much stress, too little downtime, or too much downtime and not enough activity are just two examples of an unbalanced lifestyle that could encourage addictive behavior. For those of you not quite sure how to achieve daily balance, Dr. Tom Horvath suggests keeping a daily and weekly schedule. By scheduling adequate time for the categories of lifestyle balance listed below, you greatly increase the chances of feeling satisfied with your life. With a healthy balance of long-term and momentary satisfactions, you'll be likely to find joy and fulfillment in life without substances and addictive behaviors. Consider the following categories: Work/relaxation Activity/contemplation (self...
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  • The After Party: Building a New Life in Recovery, Part I

    Posted on February 6, 2015
    (This 3-part series on building good habits, finding balance and working toward good health is adapted from chapter 12 of “Sex, Drugs, Gambling and Chocolate,” by Tom Horvath, Ph.D, ABPP) The Six Pillars of Building Good Habits “You can build a new life that is even more satisfying than life with your addiction.” - Tom Horvath So you’ve gotten through the acute withdrawal phase of recovery, dealt with immediate craving issues and have decided to take your recovery to the next level. Now what? Well, it’s time to rebuild your life. Just leaving the addiction behind isn’t enough – it’s time to start looking at how you can fill the void – that empty space that was once filled by addiction. For some, this may be exciting; a new life by design. For others, this may feel a little overw...
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  • Are You Addicted to Social Media?

    Posted on February 4, 2015
    Our own Seda Gragossian talks to KUSI morning news about some of the signs that you or a loved one might be addicted to social media. KUSI News - San Diego, CA If you have questions about social media addiction, or for treatment, call us today!
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  • Are You Addicted to Gambling?

    Posted on January 30, 2015
    Dr. Horvath talks to KUSI morning news about the signs of a possible gambling addiction, how to address them and potential underlying causes of gambling addictions. KUSI News - San Diego, CA   If you think you or a loved one might be addicted to gambling, call us. We can help!
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  • How to Cope When You Feel Like Giving Up

    Posted on January 29, 2015
    by Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. No matter how motivated you are to make changes in your life, you are likely to experience periods of time when you feel like giving up. This is certainly true in recovery. Perhaps you aren’t seeing the progress that you had hoped for, or you’ve had a few unanticipated setbacks. Or maybe you’re just having the kind of day when nothing seems to be going right. Whatever the reason for your lagging motivation, there are some steps that you can take to get through such a time. Remember it’s Temporary First of all, remember that the way you’re feeling now is only temporary. While you may not be able to make this feeling of frustration or hopelessness go away, you can learn to tolerate it. Try distracting yourself with an enjoyable or comforting activity, or u...
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  • Practical Recovery: Celebrating a 30-Year Journey

    Posted on January 26, 2015
    As I reflect over the 30 years since Practical Recovery’s beginning, I realize it has been quite a journey! What started as one man (me) in private practice, working to provide quality addiction treatment, has become an entire team of passionate and caring individuals who are seeking to lead a movement to change the country’s perspective on addiction treatment. The Early Years My journey started in 1985 when I began specializing in addiction treatment. I realized then that if I ever personally had addiction problems, the 12 steps and the disease model would not help me. They did not make sense to me. I had worked a rotation at an inpatient addiction facility and had spent three years as a Navy psychologist seeing sailors with alcohol problems. These experiences convinced me that the s...
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  • Advanced Strategies for Coping with Urges

    Posted on January 15, 2015
    Adapted from the SMART Recovery Handbook, 3rd edition, pages 36-37 In Changing Habits: Learning to Cope, we covered the 14 basic strategies recommended by SMART Recovery for coping with urges. Here, we cover 4 advanced strategies for overcoming urges to drink/use/act out. 1. Move Beyond Avoidance Being exposed to triggers can help you strengthen your coping skills to resist acting upon them. Intentional exposure under controlled conditions can help solidify your coping strategy and increase your confidence. Try the following strategy (it may help to bring along a trusted companion for support and guidance): Put yourself in a situation that may trigger an urge, such as the liquor aisle in a grocery store. Use any of the strategies discussed in Changing Habits: Learning to Cope...
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  • Changing Habits: Learning to Cope with the Urges

    Posted on January 2, 2015
    Adapted from Pages 32 and 34 of the SMART Recovery Handbook, 3rd Edition With so many people on day two of their 2015 New Year’s resolutions, it seems appropriate to offer some basic strategies for coping with urges that tempt us to give into habits. Whether you’re trying to stop drinking, quit smoking, eat better, spend less, or change any other unwanted behavior, here are 14 basic strategies designed to help you cope with the urges in the days, weeks, months (and sometimes even years) ahead! Avoid – Learn what triggers your desire to act on your habit, and avoid the triggers that lead to urges. Escape – If you are presented with a trigger, escape immediately. Distract Yourself – Try not to focus on the urge. Remember that urges are time-limited, and if you can find somethin...
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  • Arthur's Non 12 Step Journey

    Posted on December 23, 2014
    Have you ever wondered what non 12 step means? This video will walk you through Arthur's discovery of a self-empowering, non 12 step addiction treatment option! Want to be empowered? Call us today!
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  • #Dryuary

    Posted on December 22, 2014
    Craving a better high in 2015? Take the Dryuary challenge! At the start of each new year, tens of thousands of American consumers typically make resolutions to improve their health and fitness, better manage stress, and increase their sense of well-being by trying to drink less alcohol.” - Marc F. Kern Ph.D. Join thousands of individuals, nationwide, as they take the challenge to put down the drink for 31 days. Tried it before? This year is different as Dryuary 2015 is a nationally-promoted event, sponsored by Moderation Management. Sign up to receive support, motivation, tools and gain a new perspective on alcohol. Whether you're looking to counterbalance a December full of alcohol-laden parties, quit drinking for good, lose weight, save money, or give yourself a health makeove...
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  • Is Someone You Care About Getting Drunk?

    Posted on December 17, 2014
    by Dr. Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP Holiday gatherings can be high-risk times if alcohol is involved—as it usually is. Most of us in the moment will attempt to ignore excessive drinking. It’s not a good time for a rational discussion; there's a good chance the discussion will lead to an angry argument instead. Yet, while it may not be the time for a discussion, it is important not to ignore the excessive drinking entirely. Make sure to take care of the excessive drinker: no driving, a trip to the ER or whatever else might be needed. Alcohol related injury and death will be all too frequent over the holiday season. Once the drinker has sobered up, you may find yourself deciding between saying something and just hoping he/she will be better next time. As for the latter option, how many times...
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  • How Stress Makes You Sick… And What You Can Do About It

    Posted on December 12, 2014
    by Devon Berkhesier, Psy.D. Stress goes hand in hand with change; when we have to adapt to some type of change, we experience stress. Although we typically think of stress as harmful, it can, in fact, be beneficial by providing the motivation that we need to succeed. But when stress becomes chronic or overwhelming, it can cause significant health problems. Stress can affect virtually every system in the body, causing a wide range of physical ailments such as tension headaches, hypertension, stomach pain, and insomnia. Sometimes the effects of chronic stress are less immediate. For example, did you know that stress can suspend tissue repair, potentially resulting in osteoporosis and susceptibility to fractures? Stress can also worsen pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, chroni...
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  • The Courage of the Harm Reduction Therapist

    Posted on December 11, 2014
    Originally written By Richard Juman for 12/11/14 A master therapist discusses the things that can keep him up at night in his work with clients who are still using substances. This week Professional Voices features an interview with Dr. Tom Horvath, a leader in the progressive treatment of addictive disorders and a contributor to The Fix. Horvath is the president of Practical Recovery, and the volunteer president of SMART Recovery. The interview highlights some of the challenges faced by clinicians who don't demand abstinence as a prerequisite, or even a goal, of treatment. I think that nearly everyone in the addiction treatment field practices harm reduction, but they may not describe what they do that way. Richard Juman:  In thinking about taking a harm reduction ...
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  • The Science Behind "The Restoration Inn"

    Posted on December 9, 2014
    by Reya Ingle, Psy.D. Providing a Safe Place for Women to Heal Practical Recovery’s newest residential treatment home, The Restoration Inn, opened in late September this year to provide substance misuse treatment for women in a safe and supportive environment. The Inn maintains Practical Recovery’s signature non 12 step approach and commitment to individualized, self-empowering treatment for substance misuse and co-occurring disorders including relationship issues and trauma. The Restoration Inn is purposefully small with only four beds to allow for a true homelike environment. The small size of the home and the individualized focus remove the possibility of unobserved lack of true engagement in treatment as might occur in a large facility. At The Restoration Inn, client motivatio...
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  • How to Improve Your Self-Esteem: 6 Empowering Tips

    Posted on December 5, 2014
    by Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. Self-esteem is important. When we feel good about ourselves, it’s easier to engage in positive and healthy activities. Self-esteem also prevents us from beating ourselves up when we make mistakes, thus allowing us to get back on track quickly, rather than being overwhelmed by shame and self-hatred. Here are a few tips on how to improve your self-esteem: 1. Challenge negative self-talk We all engage in self-talk. It’s simply the running dialogue that happens in our heads. Unfortunately, not all self-talk is positive, and negative thoughts about the self can be damaging to self-esteem. So be aware of your self-talk and “catch” negative thoughts. For example, if you find yourself saying, “I’m a total failure” when you make a mistake, consider whether that’s...
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  • Karla Mendez Brada

    Posted on December 4, 2014
    by Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. For many people, recovery can be a vulnerable time. It often involves building up a new support network while dealing with a lot of challenging issues and feelings. A recent news story highlights just how vulnerable people in early recovery can be, and the potential dangers that they face even in places that are supposed to be safe. Karla Mendez Brada was a young woman in treatment for substance abuse. As part of that treatment, she attended Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings which are meant to provide support and “fellowship.” At those meetings, she met a man who quickly became her fiancé. Although AA typically advises against getting involved in romantic relationships in early recovery, it does happen; and not all of t...
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  • Video Game Addiction

    Posted on December 1, 2014
    Dr. Horvath talks to San Diego's Fox 5 about kids and their overuse of video games, including predisposition to video game addiction, warning signs, impact and ways to combat overuse.
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  • Tackling Boredom

    Posted on November 26, 2014
    by Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. Boredom can be dangerous…. Having too much free time allows the mind to wander, and it can go to unhealthy places. While time for rest and relaxation is important, make sure that you have enough activity in your schedule to prevent you from feeling too bored. Here are some tips for how to do that, especially during the holidays when a lot of people have extra time off from their usual daily responsibilities. 1. Plan ahead—If you wait until the last minute to make plans, you risk other people being busy and/or unavailable. Instead, try to fill up your schedule in advance. Anticipate free time that you will have and schedule healthy activities for yourself ahead of time. Remember that too much isolation can be risky, so be sure to include some social acti...
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  • 3 Tips to Help You Through the Holidays

    Posted on November 21, 2014
    by Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. While the holidays can be a joyous and festive time, they can also be difficult, and triggering, for many people. Holiday parties often include alcohol, and family gatherings can sometimes feel more stressful than fun. Additionally, many people put pressure on themselves to make this time of year almost magical, and then feel guilty or sad if reality falls short of their expectations. While we all hope that the holidays are an enjoyable time of year, it can be helpful to prepare for the possibility that they may, in fact, cause some stress and urges to use. Here are some tips for getting through the holiday season: 1. Be proactive—Don’t wait until the last minute to make plans for the holidays, as doing so could leave you bored and alone when the big da...
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  • Preventing Addiction in Teens

    Posted on November 18, 2014
    by Seda Gragossian, Ph.D., and Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP Practical Recovery has always treated (in outpatient) teens, tweens, and families. Recently we have expanded our outreach efforts for this population. All addiction treatment is a combination of treatment and prevention. When we work with teens and families the prevention component is especially important. Because parents can be a provider’s primary partners in treatment and prevention, at Practical Recovery we often focus largely on parents during the change process. Parents are needed to create a positive environment, which leads to positive behavior change for the teen. This article outlines the overarching ideas that Practical Recovery emphasizes in our work with parents, these ideas are rather different than “tough love,...
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  • NFL Painkiller Sweep

    Posted on November 18, 2014
    Pro football players are not getting any smaller. When they hit each other on the field pain seems inevitable. In most cases pain motivates people to do something different in the future. The rewards of pro sports (money, fame, women) overpower even pain. Or they motivate someone to take painkillers. Owners and coaches might ignore a pain pill problem for the sake of keeping a strong player on the field. Strong players, great teams, winning seasons, getting into the playoffs, winning the Super Bowl: Coaches and owners have many potential rewards as well. It is hard to see how these problems--overuse of pain pills in the NFL, and active efforts to cover up that use--are going to be resolved. Even under less dramatic circumstances people in chronic pain easily overuse pain pills. Se...
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  • Remembering Your Successes

    Posted on November 14, 2014
    by Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. We all make mistakes, and it can be easy to get discouraged when they happen. But feeling too much guilt and shame can lead to irrational thoughts and self-destructive behaviors. It’s important to keep our mistakes in perspective by spending some time remembering our successes as well. Recall a time when you made a positive change in your life. Perhaps you gave up a harmful habit or established a new, healthy routine. The positive change can be big or small; either way, remind yourself that you have been successful in the past and you can be successful again in the future. Recognize that success often takes a lot of time and effort. Usually, a positive change is comprised of many small steps along the way. Mistakes are a normal part of a change proce...
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  • Conflict Resolution

    Posted on November 7, 2014
    by Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. Conflict is an inevitable part of interpersonal relationships. We are each unique individuals with our own belief system and point of view, and it’s only natural that we will at some point have disagreements with other people. While managing conflict can be scary and overwhelming, conflict resolution skills can be learned so that you feel more confident in your ability to address conflicts in relationships. Here are some basic conflict resolution skills: 1. Arrange a time and place to discuss the problem that is convenient for all parties. You may want to wait until you are able to speak about the problem in a calm and respectful manner. 2. Define the problem as specifically as possible. Try using clear-cut examples so that the other person understan...
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  • 12 Helpful Parenting Tips

    Posted on November 5, 2014
    by Seda Gragossian, Ph.D. We all know parenting comes with its own unique set of challenges. The pressure can feel immense as children look to us to help guide them through relationships, letdowns and unfamiliar emotions, just to name a few. Then there's the responsibility of keeping them safe and healthy, maintaining open communication, fostering their trust in you, and the list goes on. While parenting may not come with a manual, here are 12 awesome tips that will help set you up for success. 1. Raising healthy kids is not about removing obstacles from their path, but equipping them with the right tools to overcome obstacles on their own. 2. Failures are not all bad. In fact, learning to overcome failures can foster resilience. Teach your children how to get up after they hav...
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  • Higher Satisfactions

    Posted on October 31, 2014
    by Devon Berkheiser, Psy.D. While addictive substances and behaviors can be satisfying in the short term, they typically prevent us from engaging in activities that provide a deeper sense of meaning and fulfillment. When you overcome an addiction, you will notice an increased enjoyment in daily activities and a greater overall sense of satisfaction with life (although it may take longer than you had hoped). Higher satisfactions come not from a quick fix, but from enduring relationships with others as well as productive activity. Relationships with other people are a crucial component of a happy, meaningful life. Take time to engage with family members and friends. Be open with your thoughts and feelings so that you can connect with others on a deep and intimate level. Reciprocate ...
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  • Should You Drug Test Your Teen?

    Posted on October 28, 2014
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP Maybe. Unless the situation is desperate, there are several actions to take first. Have you been paying enough attention to your teen? Do you have regular and meaningful family time? Are you actively supporting your teen in activities that tend to prevent substance problems (such as sports, hobbies, lessons, etc.)? Have you been moderating your own use of substances? Are you living up to the same behavioral standards you expect of your teen? Have you talked with your teen about the concerns you have? Have you spoken with the school? In order to influence someone's behavior, we generally need to change our own. You may already have ideas about what you need to do. Are you prepared to make these changes? If you get a positive test, what are you going to ...
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  • The Language of Using Again

    Posted on October 24, 2014
    Originally posted on the Reunion San Diego blog on June 2, 2013 For a long time, addiction treatment programs have used the word “relapse” to describe a return to drinking or drug use following a period of voluntary abstinence by people with drug and alcohol problems. Often the words “lapse” or “slip” are used to distinguish a brief period of “using again” from a return to more extended and long-term use. At Practical Recovery, we’re joining hands with a number of experts in the field who want to do away with the use of the word “relapse” because we think it has negative connotations. As addiction scholar William White, M.A., author of Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America, points out, the terms lapse and relapse actually have their ...
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  • Atheist Barry Hazle Sues and Wins Over Mandatory 12-Step Treatment

    Posted on October 24, 2014
    Barry Hazle recently received media attention, and a nearly $2 million dollar settlement, after he challenged the legality of a mandate to a 12-step substance abuse treatment program. Hazle was convicted of possession of methamphetamine in California and sentenced to a 90-day treatment program. Because he was an atheist, Hazle had difficulty engaging in the treatment, which was 12-step in its approach and required a belief in God. When he was sent to prison for failure to participate, Hazle fought back, alleging that his First Amendment rights were being violated. He sued the parole officer that sent him to prison, California corrections officials, and Westcare Corporation (a company which contracts with the state to provide treatment facilities for parolees). The U.S. district court ag...
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  • The Varieties of SMART Recovery Experience

    Posted on October 14, 2014
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP There are multiple ways to experience any well-developed approach to addiction recovery, whether that approach is, for instance, SMART Recovery, a 12-step group or Stanton Peele’s PERFECT Program. In this article I present my observations about experiences in SMART Recovery. I acknowledge the foundation established for this article by The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature by William James, and The Varieties of Recovery Experience: A Primer for Addiction Treatment Professionals and Recovery Advocates, by William White and Ernest Kurtz. This article is written to help celebrate SMART Recovery’s 20th anniversary, and the annual conference last month in Washington, DC, celebrating that anniversary. The highlights of that conference,...
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  • Questioning Dr. Peele

    Posted on October 13, 2014
    Our very own Dr. Horvath questions Dr. Peele about defining addiction, recovery and many other important issues on this SMART Recovery podcast. Click here to listen to the entire audio clip.
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  • 5 Effective Tips for Problem Solving

    Posted on October 10, 2014
    Problems are an inevitable part of life, but we have choices about how to handle them. We can avoid or deny problems, which often makes them bigger, or we can be proactive and resolve them. Some problems cannot be "solved," only resolved. We often need to practice acceptance. For instance, if I consider dying a problem, then accepting that ultimate reality is the only resolution. However, even problems that may require a large amount of acceptance can also benefit from problem-solving some of their components. For instance, I am not able to avoid death, but I can have influence over many aspects of it. From a self-empowering perspective, acceptance is often Plan B, with active problem solving being Plan A. Here are five basic steps for effective problem solving: Define the pro...
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  • Jessica Yaffa, Domestic Violence and The Inn

    Posted on October 9, 2014
    Jessica Yaffa talks to UT~TV about domestic violence and The Restoration Inn Learn more about how substance abuse and unhealthy relationships are related.
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  • Parental Addiction to Technology

    Posted on October 9, 2014
    Tom Horvath, Ph.D. talks to San Diego's Fox5 and responds to children's concerns regarding their parents' addiction to technology. As Dr. Horvath points out, there is an upside to this, and some surprising truths. Be sure to click for full screen view.
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  • 3 Useful Tips for Getting and Staying Motivated

    Posted on October 3, 2014
    Sometimes we know what we should do, but we struggle with motivating ourselves to actually get it done. Going to the gym, finishing a project, cleaning the house … these tasks can be difficult when motivation is lacking. However, a lack of motivation does not have to derail you from meeting your goals. Here are some tips to try when you are struggling with low motivation: 1. Remember why the activity is of value to you-- Most people don’t exercise just to exercise…. They do it because they want to be healthy and fit. Remembering why you want to do something can make doing it more desirable. 2. Start small-- If a task feels overwhelming, it can be hard to get started. Tell yourself that you will just do a small part of the task rather than committing to the whole thing. Often, you ...
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  • Why Choose a Non 12-Step Recovery Approach?

    Posted on October 1, 2014
    If you were a woman with breast cancer, you’d probably want to know that there were several treatment options you had: radical mastectomy, lumpectomy, radiation, chemotherapy, holistic services, nutritional approaches, some combination of these options, do nothing, or wait until the next new treatment emerges.  You might be inclined to let your physician decide what to do.  However, most individuals would want to make a decision of this magnitude for themselves.  So, you would want to know how successful each approach is, what it costs, the recovery period involved, the side effects, and the likely complications.  You would want to talk to individuals who had used each approach.  You would search the internet.  You would get input from multiple sources.  Your final decision would probab...
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  • Don’t Toss Away the Serenity Prayer

    Posted on September 26, 2014
    [caption id="attachment_4919" align="alignleft" width="213"] Reinhold Niebuhr[/caption] Originally posted on March 8, 2013  on the Reunion San Diego blog For people opposed to “prayers”, AA meetings, traditional 12-step-based treatment and/or prayer in general, it’s too bad that the Serenity Prayer has been co-opted. What you probably don’t know, according to “The Secret History of the Serenity Prayer” by author Susan Cheever at, is that the prayer was originally conceived by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr – “not as an antidote to addiction, but as a response to the barbaric evil of Nazi Germany that threatened civilization itself during World War II.” Although some have challenged the prayer’s origins, Cheever cites Niebuhr’s original prayers as: “God give us the grace to...
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  • Couples Therapy as Treatment for Alcohol Dependent Women

    Posted on September 24, 2014
    Previous research suggests four to eight percent of women under the age of 44 are alcohol dependent. Further, up to 65 percent of alcohol dependent women have a co-occurring psychiatric disorder, and women are typically less likely to seek alcohol treatment as compared to men. Research also shows that many alcohol dependent women have high levels of stress in their marriage. Barbara McCrady of the University of new Mexico Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addictions and Elizabeth Epstein of Rutgers University led a study which found that couples therapy for alcohol dependent women may work well for women with supportive spouses. Couples Therapy vs. Individual Therapy The researchers compared alcohol behavioral couples therapy to alcohol behavioral individual therapy in a rando...
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  • Unhealthy Relationships Cause Unhealthy Bodies

    Posted on September 23, 2014
    Article by Erinn Hutkin originally appeared in the Union Tribune on September 23, 2014 Toxic relationships do not only hurt psychologically, they can also be physically damaging. George Pratt, a clinical psychologist, author and licensed marriage and family therapist associated with Scripps Health, said a toxic or unhealthy relationship can exist among married couples, people who are dating and even those who are no longer a couple. No matter what the nature of the relationship, Pratt said, they have one thing in common: “Toxic relationships can exist in any kind of relationship, and they are bad for your health.” From disturbed sleep to added stress to increased risk of heart problems, toxic relationships can do damage to the body. However, in addition to knowing that a ...
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  • Think the Drink (or Drug) Through

    Posted on September 19, 2014
    So often, a return to drinking or drug use happens in a “screw-it” or “just-this- once” moment. Maybe it’s after a horrendous day or when everything seems to be going wrong at once. On the other hand, impulsive use can occur when celebrating something really great. The thinking commonly goes, “I’ll just have one or two drinks (or a few snorts), and that will be the end of it. But will it be just one or two? What about the next day? Have you been successful with short-term use in the past? That need for a quick fix, also known as immediate gratification, often drives use for someone with addiction, and the tendency can linger – sometimes for a long time. Part of overcoming the problem is recognizing and appreciating the value of enduring satisfactions versus momentary pleasures. On...
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  • 5 Common Myths About Treatment

    Posted on September 17, 2014
    by Julia Rosengren, Psy.D. “A theory that is wrong is considered preferable to admitting our ignorance.” – Elliot Vallenstein, Ph.D. Julia Rosengren, Psy.D. is the Clinical Coordinator at Practical Recovery’s outpatient office (Practical Recovery Psychology Group). She has compiled a list of common misconceptions about treatment from her experience in the field. Myth #1: “I have a chemical imbalance. Talking doesn’t seem helpful.” From my experience, this way of thinking actually hinders treatment progress. Not only is this an oversimplification of what occurs in the brain, but externalizing the problem allows for feelings of helplessness. For example, if a problem is due to deficits in one’s brain chemistry, then theoretically there is little someone can do to remedy the issue be...
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  • Sleep, Exercise and Nutrition

    Posted on September 12, 2014
    Physical and emotional health are very much connected. If you are not feeling well physically, it is difficult to manage feelings of anger, sadness, or anxiety. In order to improve your physical well-being (and in turn your emotional well-being), focus on the following areas: Sleep—Restful sleep is an important part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. If you have difficulty sleeping, try reducing your caffeine intake. Creating a sleep routine can also be helpful. Go to bed at the same time each night, and practice a relaxing nightly ritual such as meditation. Exercise—Physical exercise is not only beneficial to your body, but also to your mood. Exercise does not need to be strenuous to be beneficial; simply taking a walk can make you feel better. If you have not exercised for a whil...
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  • #WhyIStayed: ‘Leaving Was a Process, Not an Event'

    Posted on September 11, 2014
    Original article by Mackenzie Dawson first appeared in the NY Post on September 11, 2014 “I try to forget #WhyIStayed because #WhyILeft is a much more enjoyable story with a fairy tale happy ending.” So writes one Twitter user in a post that neatly sums up much of the reaction to the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal, involving a video of him punching his then-fiancée, now wife, in the face and then dragging her out of the elevator of an Atlantic City casino. The video is shocking. Horrifying. And, as we are all so quick to do whenever a narrative doesn’t progress exactly as we would like it to, we commenced pointing fingers. First — and most deservedly — at the NFL, which initially reacted to the incident by suspending the Ravens running back for a mere two games. (Thi...
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  • Jessica Yaffa Responds to Ray Rice's Abusive Behavior

    Posted on September 11, 2014
    Jessica Yaffa responds to the NFL's reaction to Ray Rice's abusive behavior (NBC 7 San Diego):
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  • WHO Report on Global Suicide

    Posted on September 10, 2014
    In recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a report titled “Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative.” While knowledge about suicide has been steadily increasing, it is still a major problem around the globe, with more than 800,000 people dying by suicide each year. Here are some of the key points outlined in the WHO report: Suicide is a serious problem. Approximately every 40 seconds, somebody dies by suicide. Among young adults between 15 and 29 years of age, suicide accounts for 8.5% of all deaths and is ranked as the second leading cause of death. Among those aged 30-49, it is the fifth leading cause of death. Suicide accounts for 50% of all violent deaths in men and 71% in women. Despite increased underst...
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  • Suicide and Addiction: The Quiet U.S. Epidemic

    Posted on September 8, 2014
    by Kevin Murphy, Psy.D. Suicide is a quiet epidemic in the US. Although the media in this country lends much of its attention to murder, with nightly news stories and documentaries on the perils of living in a country with over 300 million guns, suicide never receives the same degree of focus. The broad coverage surrounding Robin Williams’ death represents an exception, and has directed attention to a long neglected issue that actually dwarfs the size of this country’s problem with violence. In recent years, the annual suicide rate has tripled that of homicides in the US. As the murder rate has dramatically dipped in this country over the last 20 years (from an all-time high of 24,000 murders in 1991), the suicide rate has held steady over that time period. According to the FBI's web...
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  • Tolerating Discomfort

    Posted on September 5, 2014
    Discomfort is an unavoidable feeling. Anxiety, depression, anger, urges… these can be uncomfortable, even painful, experiences. While you may be tempted to avoid discomfort or to attempt to make it go away as quickly as possible, struggling against discomfort typically intensifies it. Alternatively, accepting that pain is just a part of life can actually make a painful experience easier to bear. In other words, the most effective way to deal with discomfort/pain is often to learn how to tolerate it. Your beliefs play a role in your ability to tolerate discomfort. If you tell yourself that discomfort is unbearable or that you shouldn’t have to feel any pain, then you will likely make the situation more challenging. Instead, try using coping statements such as “I can get through this” ...
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  • Practical Recovery Announces the Opening of The Restoration Inn

    Posted on September 3, 2014
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 03, 2014 Practical Recovery announces the opening of The Restoration Inn Press release SAN DIEGO, CA - Practical Recovery, an addiction treatment system located in San Diego, CA is thrilled to announce the opening of The Restoration Inn, a place where women from all over the world are invited to come and renew their sense of self following a traumatic event or set of events. The specialized team at The Restoration Inn is committed to addressing the unique needs of survivors that have endured any sort of relationship trauma, including but not limited to child abuse, molestation, relationship violence, sexual assault and stalking. While all of our clients will present to treatment with some form of substance misuse, our intention to address not only...
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  • Mouthwatering Pesto Salmon

    Posted on August 29, 2014
    More Herbs, Less Salt A healthy diet is extremely important, not just for recovery, but for overall physical and mental health. A good rule of thumb when it comes to a balanced diet is “everything in moderation.” Our bodies need some sodium to function properly, but many people go overboard when it comes to salt consumption. Most Americans consume at least 1.5 teaspoons of salt per day, which contains far more sodium than our bodies need. Too much sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and other health complications. “But salt makes everything taste better,” you may say. Don’t worry, we have a simple solution-HERBS! Adding herbs to our diet is a great way to lay off the salt but still add amazing flavor to the foods we eat. Herbs have the power ...
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  • Be Kind to Humankind

    Posted on August 27, 2014
    Being kind to others feels good, and research shows that it also has beneficial effects. Did you know that kindness actually increases happiness? When we do something nice for others, the dopamine levels in our brains increase, making us feel happier. This feeling is known as a “helper’s high.” Kindness also improves our relationships by making us feel more bonded to other people. Kindness has even been found to slow the aging process. In honor of “Be Kind to Humankind Week,” consider making an effort to spread some extra cheer. Here are a few simple things to try: 1. Random acts of kindness—Simply do something nice for somebody else! You could pay for a stranger’s Starbucks order, put a quarter in a meter that will soon expire, or offer to do some yard work for a neighbor. 2. ...
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  • 3 Trusty Tips for Finding New Friends

    Posted on August 22, 2014
    Support is a crucial part of recovery. When times get tough, it is important to have supportive friends on whom you can rely. However, friends can be problematic when they trigger old addictive habits and behaviors. Often people in recovery need to build new friendships with people who are supportive of recovery and free from their own addictions. This can seem like a daunting task, especially if most of your social activities have involved drinking/using in the past. Here are 3 suggestions for finding new friends: Recovery meetings offer an opportunity to meet new friends who share similar goals. When attending meetings, say hello to other group members. Ask for phone numbers or invite somebody to go out for coffee. It may be scary to reach out to new people at first, but it gets...
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  • 17 Suicide Warning Signs and What to Do About Them

    Posted on August 20, 2014
    By Kevin Murphy, PsyD with contributions from Cheri Harkleroad, Julia Rosengren, PsyD and information provided by According to, 75% of people that complete suicide show warning signs leading up to their death. Here are some warning signs that someone might be at risk for suicide: Social isolation Loss of drive Changes in sleep/appetite Dramatic weight loss Expressed feelings of hopelessness/helplessness Obsessions with death Talking/joking about suicide Giving away special items of importance Impulsive/reckless behavior Loss of interest in activities Drinking/using drugs Expressed feelings of excessive guilt or shame Expressed feelings of being trapped Sudden elation or peacefulness after extended period of depression Marked ch...
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  • How S.M.A.R.T. Are Your Goals?

    Posted on August 15, 2014
    Setting goals is a crucial part of recovery. After all, if you are not working toward something that is meaningful to you, what’s the point? Maybe you are striving toward finding a meaningful relationship, getting healthier, or getting a job that ignites your passion. Whatever your goals are, make sure they are “S.M.A.R.T.”: Specific—Be as specific as possible when setting goals. For example, “run a marathon” vs. “improve my health.” Measurable—If a goal is not measurable, it is hard to tell whether or not you have achieved it. “Lose ten pounds” is a clearer goal than “lose weight.” Agreeable—If you do not actually want to achieve the goal, it will be extremely hard to stay motivated. Work on setting goals that fit in with your values and what you truly want for yourself, rathe...
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  • Robin Williams' Death, Celebrity Depression and Addiction

    Posted on August 13, 2014
    World-renowned addiction expert, Tom Horvath, Ph.D., on the tragic death of Robin Williams and celebrity depression and addiction. Are you or a loved one in need of addiction treatment? Call us: 1-800-977-6110. We can help! Get connected! Sign up for our newsletter for recovery support and mental health tips!
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  • On Robin Williams, Addiction and Suicide

    Posted on August 13, 2014
    In the wake of the tragic death of Robin Williams, we are left to reflect on how somebody who brought so much laughter to so many could actually be struggling with such intense pain. The truth is that depression and addiction do not discriminate based on age, gender, or economic status; these disorders can affect anybody. And sadly, both of these disorders can be deadly, which we are reminded of when we see the life of a beloved celebrity come to a tragic end. What can be learned from this? First, it brings to mind the importance of recognizing early warning signs. Early warning signs tell us to reach out for help before our problems become worse. Know what your triggers are so that you can be prepared to handle them. Know what the earliest signs of depression and/or relapse are so t...
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  • To Moderate or to Abstain? That is the Question!

    Posted on August 11, 2014
    By Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP Practical Recovery's policy is not to give advice about whether to moderate or abstain. Unfortunately, this approach has sometimes been interpreted to mean that we “advocate” moderation. We neither advocate nor oppose any specific level of addictive activity, including cutting back (to something short of moderation) or focusing on safety without reducing quantity and/or frequency (e.g., “I won’t cut back my drinking, but I’ll stop drinking and driving”). Harm Reduction The term for this broad position, which follows the client’s lead on what changes to make, is harm reduction. Harm reduction has been a fiercely debated concept. However, as noted in last month’s article, harm reduction is identical to motivational interviewing in its focus on helpin...
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  • Procrastination: Avoid Additional Stress by Getting Things Done Now

    Posted on August 8, 2014
    “Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.” -- Mason Cooley Procrastination is a common problem. It’s all too tempting to put off an unpleasant task until some later time. However, procrastination can resemble addictive behavior and can be extremely problematic. The more we procrastinate, the more stress we typically create for ourselves. Here are some tips to help you avoid procrastinating: Start small—Just commit to taking one small step. Usually, you will find that it is not as bad as you expected, and it will be relatively easy to keep going. If you are procrastinating because the task feels overwhelming, breaking it down into smaller, easier steps makes it feel much more manageable. Confront negative beliefs—If you are telling yourself things such as, “...
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  • The Abstinence Violation Approach

    Posted on August 6, 2014
    By Dan Galant, PhD "The Abstinence Violation Approach" - This ominous sounding term from the relapse prevention literature is perhaps one of the most useful concepts to understand in addiction treatment. I often have clients tell me years after our last therapy session that this was the singular most helpful idea to keep them on track! So what’s it all about – and how can it help you? The Abstinence Violation Effect (AVE – think the abbreviation for avenue to help you remember it) is what happens when an individual deviates from his/her plan – and then continues to remain off that path due to frustration, shame, guilt, etc. Think of the problem drinker who has chosen to abstain from alcohol. When that person takes even one drink (”violating” their abstinence), the tendency is to t...
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  • Mindfulness: The power of being in the moment

    Posted on August 1, 2014
    Focusing on the past can lead to feelings of regret and guilt. Similarly, thinking about the future can create anxiety and worry. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to stay in the present moment—to be mindful. To be mindful means to be aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations without judging or criticizing yourself or your experience. Mindfulness is a great tool for managing cravings, anxiety, and other emotions/experiences that are difficult to handle. Here is a simple mindful breathing exercise to get you started: Sit or stand in a comfortable position. Slowly inhale through your nose, counting to five. Exhale from your mouth, counting to eight. Repeat several times. The key to mindfulness is to be present and maintain focus on the moment. Thoughts will come; si...
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  • Dr. Chaudhri Takes You Behind the Scenes at PRI

    Posted on July 31, 2014
    My role as the Chief Operating Officer is to oversee the operations to maximize the client's experience at Practical Recovery. The goal is to ensure consistent quality of service by developing and enforcing good automated systems; validating processes; overseeing operational documentation; managing branding in each facility (core values/mission), and ensuring standardization and execution of policies and procedures at all sites. My team completes these operational objectives by completing daily audits such as: medication procedures, food/beverage service, therapeutic activities, satisfaction surveys, hospitality procedures, safety compliance, room searches/inventories, intake, admission and discharge procedure audits, monitoring drug testing, supervising client schedules and operational...
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  • The Sober Truth

    Posted on July 21, 2014
    Debunking the bad science behind 12-step programs and the rehab industry Book Review by Tom Horvath, PhD., ABPP Text: 160 pages; Preface: 1 page; Notes: 9 pages The subtitle of this book guaranteed that it would be unpopular with many in the 12-step and rehab communities. However, titles are often a compromise between publisher and author. The publisher wants to sell books. The authors do also, but do not want to diminish the credibility of the work. A controversial title may be acceptable to authors if it can be nuanced in the work itself. This writing team is a psychiatrist and addiction expert father, and his son, a free-lance writer with a BA from Yale and an MFA from USC. What exactly do they say about 12-step groups and the rehab industry? Chapter 3 is entitled “Does A...
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  • Combat Your Worries

    Posted on July 18, 2014
    “There were many terrible things in my life and most of them never happened.” – Michel de Montaigne Worrying can be useful since it can motivate us to be prepared. However, too much worry can be problematic and can lead to sleep problems, irritability, poor concentration, and overwhelming feelings of anxiety and stress. Worrying can also be a waste of time and energy. Often, the things that we worry about are beyond our control and no amount of worrying will guarantee a positive outcome. Here are some quick tips for managing worry: 1. Challenge your thoughts – when we worry, we tend to overestimate the likelihood of a negative outcome. So ask yourself how likely that worst case scenario really is and consider other options that may be more realistic and easier to handle. 2. Use...
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  • Valley of the RUN 5k/10k

    Posted on July 18, 2014
    Run with Dr. Horvath! August 9th, 2014 7am And join us as we support efforts to raise awareness addiction! Dr. Horvath will be running the 10k, then speaking afterward. Run. Support. Have Fun.                                                     REGISTER! Valley of the RUN Facebook Page                
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  • Anonymous People Screening

    Posted on July 18, 2014
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  • 4 Easy Tips for an Awesome Summer in Recovery

    Posted on July 11, 2014
    For many people, summer is the best time of the year. Warm weather, days at the beach, vacations… What’s not to love? But when you’re in recovery, especially early recovery, the pool parties and vacations of summer can be major relapse triggers. Here are some tips for enjoying summer without getting off track. 1. Plan ahead—If you know that you will be attending a party, barbecue, or other event that may be triggering, have an exit plan in place. Drive your own car so that you won’t get stuck there longer than you want to, or bring a sober friend along for support. If you are going on vacation, consider researching some self-help meetings that are available in the area, or use the online meetings that SMART Recovery offers to keep your focus on recovery. 2. Get outside—Summer ...
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  • From the Kitchen, with Love

    Posted on July 10, 2014
    by Chef Sarah, Executive Chef Here in Reunion's Kitchen, I prepare fresh healing foods every day for our clients. I use organic produce from local farms, herbs, local honey and high-quality meats and cheeses. My belief is that we are what we eat! I like to introduce our clients to a healthy eating style, beginning with a detox diet if needed, which consists of freshly juiced vegetables, homemade broths and lots of salads and smoothies. By doing this, it allows the body and cells to cleanse, replenish and heal with good building blocks in place. By cooking simple foods that are bursting with fresh enzymes and packed with nutrients, the well-being of the clients start to show on their faces. Their skin starts to glow, they begin to smile a lot more and become much more eager to try ...
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  • Independence Day

    Posted on July 3, 2014
    Independence (noun)- freedom from the control, influence or support of others On the 4th of July, Americans celebrate our independence by going to the beach, BBQing and watching fireworks. This year on July 4th, celebrate YOUR independence from drugs and alcohol. Celebrate the way it feels to not have withdrawals or a hangover. Celebrate the financial independence that you are gaining, now that you aren't spending so much money on substances. Celebrate the confidence that you are building each time you overcome an urge. Celebrate your new healthy habits and how they make you feel. Independence is empowering! How will you celebrate your independence? We want to know what you think! Stop by our Facebook page and tell us how you plan to celebrate your independence!
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  • Laughter and Addiction Therapy

    Posted on July 3, 2014
    By Dalea Alawar, Post-Doc at Practical Recovery As I’ve gotten more comfortable in my therapeutic style, I’ve found myself increasingly using humor in my group and individual therapy sessions. Considering that this had not always been a part of my style, I decided to do some research regarding the costs and benefits of using humor in therapy. The costs seemed rather obvious- if used at the wrong time and place, it can be viewed as inappropriate, insensitive, and demeaning. The benefits were quite surprising, however. Aside from the general physical health benefits of laughter, there are several advantages of using humor in therapeutic settings in terms of mental health. Not only can it reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, even if only in the moment, but using humor in therap...
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  • Emotionally Focused Therapy

    Posted on June 25, 2014
    Ashley Adams, MFTI does much of the couple and family work at Reunion and below, she discusses the practice of Emotionally Focused Therapy. At Practical Recovery, our goal is to give clients the necessary tools that empower them to make healthy choices. One such choice is the option to participate in couples therapy and family therapy. Although this work is highly recommended (in most cases), clients have the option to decline. We may also offer their loved one individual therapy with another provider who is not working with the resident, as a way to provide additional support in conjunction with the couples/family therapy. Before the first session occurs, the family or partner will fill out a number of brief questionnaires and have some basic understanding of what emotionally focuse...
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  • CET: An Empowering Approach to Treatment

    Posted on June 19, 2014
    by Kevin Murphy, Psy.D. Exposure Therapy emerged in the 1950s as an intervention to treat panic-phobic disorders. Owing to the abundance of empirical support behind the intervention, Exposure Therapy (ET) has become a staple in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Building on that long track record, Cue Exposure Therapy (CET) borrows heavily from the format used in ET, but is specifically designed to treat the cravings that perpetuate substance use disorders. CET acts to de-sensitize the effect of triggers (the feel of a cold bottle, the sight of a sandwich baggie, etc.) that tend to prompt cravings. Research into CET is not nearly as robust as the literature that supports the efficacy of ET. Eventually, it’s predicted, CET will become as mainstream a practice in the field of chemical...
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  • Responsibility Lies Within the Hands of Us All

    Posted on June 11, 2014
    by Jessica Yaffa, Director of Community Education Whenever I begin a presentation or workshop I spend some time discussing the myths and stereotypes that exist surrounding domestic violence: Who does this happen to? What ethnic groups/religions/socio economic classes are most likely to be victimized? What are the backgrounds of those that find themselves in abusive relationships? Unfortunately, the answers to each of these statements are the same: ALL of us are affected by domestic violence. With the statistics being that 1 in 4 women are or will be physically abused during their lifetime, and knowing that every socio-economic class, culture and religion are dealing with this epidemic, the responsibility of creating change, standing up, and speaking out is a responsibili...
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  • Motivational Interviewing and Harm Reduction

    Posted on June 10, 2014
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP In this article I compare these two important contemporary recovery concepts. From my perspective they are mostly similar, but have dramatically different rates of acceptance in the addiction treatment industry. Motivational Interviewing (MI) Motivational interviewing (MI) is a psychotherapeutic approach for promoting any healthy behavior change. MI was created for work with addiction, then extended to any behavior change about which someone is ambivalent. Ambivalence is a crucial aspect of MI. The person who is completely committed to change is actually changing, and not sitting in front of you discussing the possibility of it. MI accepts a person’s ambivalence, but works toward reducing ambivalence in favor of healthier behavior. One of the principal m...
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  • The Benefits of Forgiveness

    Posted on June 6, 2014
    Sometimes, we are betrayed by the people who claim to love us the most.  Whether we are lied to, ignored, or gossiped about, it is natural to hold a grudge, and let it affect our mood, our relationships, and even our physical health.  Forgiving someone helps us much more than it helps the person who hurt us.  Here is how: According to The Journal of Behavioral Medicine, forgiveness is literally good for your heart. Individuals experienced lower blood pressure, and lower heart rate when practicing forgiveness. This can make a big difference over time! When friends or family hurt us, it can be difficult, because we may want to salvage the relationship but the betrayal is keeping us from doing so. Forgiveness allows us to see the positive aspects of the offending party, and allows us...
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  • State-of-the-Art Technology (from the 70's!)

    Posted on June 4, 2014
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP We recently remodeled our outpatient offices, requiring us to move everything out to re-carpet. It is challenging to clean up what has accumulated over 10 years! One item I have been saving (available from someone else on ebay, starting bid $3) is a 1970s Borm response golf counter. This very sturdy, entirely metal device straps to your wrist. It will easily count golf strokes, or anything that is expected to occur 999 times or less, by pushing the side pin in about 1/4 inch. Rewinding is a very deliberate activity, so there is no chance of re-setting by accident (as one might easily do with an electronic device). If a change is important enough to us, we often measure it or count it, and then record it. We have records of golf games, bathroom scales...
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  • A Good Night's Sleep

    Posted on May 30, 2014
    by Elissa Frazao Addiction can cause an imbalance in your life.  Balancing important aspects of your life during sobriety can increase your chances to feel satisfied and avoid relapse. At Practical Recovery, we encourage our clients to work on becoming SEN (sleep, exercise, nutrition) masters.  In addition to being the three primary foundations of good health, good sleep, sufficient exercise and adequate nutrition are extremely beneficial in recovery. Good sleep patterns come with many benefits including improved memory, healthy weight loss, enhanced creativity, better athletic performance and emotional stability. Here are some tips for better sleep: Set a regular time for sleeping and waking up.  Stick to this schedule (even on the weekends)! If you have difficulty fall...
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  • Lasagna Bolognese with Kale and Spinach

    Posted on May 28, 2014
    Our lovely chef, Sarah, and her kitchen staff have served up another delicious recipe for us to try! Lasagna Bolognese with Kale and Spinach. Serves 8 Ingredients: Sauce: 1/4 cup olive oil 3 oz of pancetta, finely diced 1 onion finely chopped 1 carrot chopped 1 celery rib fine chop 2 cloves garlic chopped 2lb organic ground beef 2lb beef chuck organic (if possible) or bison 1.5 cup milk 1/4 tomato paste 1.5 tsp thyme 1.5c beef or chicken stock Ricotta Filling: 2x10 oz frozen spinach thawed 1 small bunch toscana kale finely chopped 2x 15oz containers of ricotta 4 organic eggs, beaten 1/2 c grated Parmesan 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg 3/4 c whole milk Lasagna: 12 Barilla “no boil” dried lasagna noodles 1/2 c grated Parmesan 1x 13'x9' baking pan (3'inch dee...
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  • 4 Tips for a Fun and Alcohol-free Memorial Day Weekend!

    Posted on May 23, 2014
    by Elissa Frazao Director of Admissions Memorial Day is upon us-the official start of summer!  Summer is a time for beach days, BBQ's and fireworks, and for many, cold beers and cocktails. Alcohol at summer events can be unavoidable, so here are some tips to enjoy the sunshine, without compromising your goals: Make mocktails, so you don't feel like you're missing out!  There are so many fun drinks you can make without alcohol. Here are some recipe ideas. Stay active- try water sports such as stand-up paddling, kayaking, or surfing to cool off.  The high you will get off catching your first wave will be all you need. Be honest with yourself, and with friends and family.  If you're feeling anxious about attending a wedding, BBQ or party, say so!  Enlist one or two members of y...
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  • Client Relations at Its Finest

    Posted on May 21, 2014
    by Nikki Wiedlund Client Relations Manager/Billing Administrator I do a multitude of things from client satisfaction, to insurance billing, to scheduling a manicure/pedicure! Anything a client wants or needs, I’m the girl they go to! It’s really important to me that I am able to create a completely personalized schedule that meets our client’s needs and exceeds their expectations. I once had a client who wanted to go surfing every morning before 6am. With some clever scheduling, we were able to make that happen. We had a client who was very interested in doing Equine Therapy while they were here so we had to transport almost 90 minutes round trip, three days a week to fulfill that client’s wishes. We also had a client who had quite a few doctors’ appointments that needed to be...
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  • Ethics and Boundaries in Addiction Treatment

    Posted on May 19, 2014
    ABC Sober Living and The Rock Church face very serious allegations. As the attorney for the women filing this lawsuit suggests, individuals in recovery are especially vulnerable. Treatment facilities have a special duty of care when clients are vulnerable. While further investigation is being conducted, Practical Recovery will comment only on issues that apply to the entire addiction treatment industry. To assure adequate client care, all addiction rehabilitation facilities need to have high quality professional staff, preferably licensed mental health professionals. These staff need to be regularly involved with clients, not just listed on the website. Although certified drug and alcohol counselors or even lower level staff have a role in addiction treatment, at Practical Recover...
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  • Coping With Disaster

    Posted on May 16, 2014
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP San Diego is coping with another major set of fires. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by these events. Any disaster brings additional risk for individuals in addiction recovery. We hope the following guidelines are helpful. 1. Focus on the physical first. Attend to injuries, even minor ones. Get to the safest place you can. Get warm (or cool). Stay fed and hydrated. Rest as needed. 2. Expect to be more emotional. It’s OK to be numb at first. However your emotions show up, and in whatever time, accept them. Express yourself to others. Be careful not to mistreat others. 3. Include self-care as a component of your efforts to restore your life. It is not just possessions that need restoration. In time, if needed, seek professional help. 4. Ma...
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  • Toward Better Theories of Addiction and Recovery

    Posted on May 15, 2014
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D. “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Ironically, I have not been able to confirm (the fact of) who first expressed this idea. It is widely attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, four-time US Senator from Massachusetts (1927-2003). What are the primary “facts” or findings about addiction and recovery, of which any theory of them, and any approach to treatment and recovery, would need to take into account? I will propose a few facts (and opinions too). Of course, even our selection of “facts” can be biased. However, only by making the effort to understand the foundations of one’s own opinions can these opinions be improved. 1) Prohibition will be of limited effectiveness in preventing addiction. Alcohol prohibition in the US (...
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  • Confidentiality and Addiction Treatment

    Posted on May 14, 2014
    Confidentiality is of major importance in addiction treatment. Our clients need to know that what they tell us, and even their presence in our services, is a secret. We act in a number of ways to protect your confidentiality, some of which may seem strange until you understand them. In addition to all the protection of records (locks on cabinets, passwords and rapid timeouts on computers, document shredders, etc.), in our outpatient offices we take additional measures as well. The sign on our suite says "PRPG" rather than "Practical Recovery Psychology Group." If I enter the waiting room to greet a new client I say "My name is Tom Horvath. Who is here to see me?" rather than "Are you John Brown?" Even if there is only one person in the waiting room, it might NOT be John Brown. There ...
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  • Believing Addiction is a Disease May Be Bad for Your Recovery

    Posted on April 23, 2014
    How could believing addiction is a disease be bad? There are now several studies suggesting that individuals who believe their behavioral problems (either addiction or mental health) are a disease may have more trouble recovering from them. The most recent study found that individuals who believe obesity is a disease are less focused on weight loss. If someone views himself or herself as having an addictive disease, there seems little benefit in trying to change that view (and possibly much to lose). However, if someone does not view addiction as a disease, is attempting to instill that view worthwhile? Given that viewing addiction as a disease may be a high-risk belief, promoting that belief is inconsistent with promoting recovery. Unfortunately, many US addiction treatment faci...
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  • A Review of "Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience"

    Posted on April 22, 2014
    Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience By Sally Satel and Scott D. Lillienfeld (New York: Basic, 2013) Review by Tom Horvath, Ph.D. The prominent authors of Brainwashed challenge the widely held view that neuroscience will soon dramatically improve human life. They thoroughly support continued neuroscience research and applaud the knowledge gained thus far. However, they believe the limitations of neuroscience need to be better understood. They begin by reminding us that vision is the most developed human sense. Therefore pictures of our brains in action, via fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), are compelling. It is as if we opened a window into our skulls and merely needed to look in, in order to understand what happens there. This well-reasoned...
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  • Substance Abuse and Your Spouse

    Posted on April 16, 2014
    Here are 5 things Dr. Horvath recommends you consider when discussing substance abuse with your spouse: 1. Take time to notice what is going well in your relationship, and talk about it. Express thanks for what is working. 2. Begin the conversation by identifying the stresses in your spouse's situation. Is there stress at work, with family, with the children, with money, etc? Acknowledge this stress, and acknowledge the efforts your spouse has made to cope with it. 3. Express your concern about how substance use has (probably) been used as a coping method, and how that use concerns you. 4. Focus on the outcomes you desire (lower stress for your spouse, no substance related negative consequences, a better relationship for the two of you), rather than a specific method (e.g., "Y...
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  • Your Child and Drugs

    Posted on April 9, 2014
    Five Issues to Consider When it Comes to Your Child and Drugs By Tom Horvath, PhD., ABPP 1) Experimentation with drugs/alcohol is common, and not necessarily bad in itself (depending on the values in your family). It would be unwise to have the same level of emotional response to alcohol use as you would have to heroin or cocaine use. 2) Harmful drug use shows up in many different ways. Changes in any domain of life are worth investigating. Pay attention to: School performance, health and health habits, personal hygiene, sleep habits, weight changes, attitude, appearance, appearance of your child's room, friends, activity level, emotional changes, etc. Furthermore, what is your intuition about recent changes? You know your child better than anyone. 3) Start by talking with you...
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  • Is AA Harmful?

    Posted on March 25, 2014
    Author: Tom Horvath, PhD, ABPP Is AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) potentially harmful to 90% of over-drinkers? The best way to determine whether AA might be helpful or harmful to you is to attend one or more meetings. Keep an open mind. You might be surprised by what you experience. Remember to try several meetings if you are uncertain, as meetings can vary considerably. If you find AA (or any other 12-step group, such as Narcotics Anonymous) helpful, then I encourage you to continue for as long as it is helpful, a lifetime if you want. If you find AA less than helpful, you already know there are alternatives. That 90% estimate comes from a recent book by Lance Dodes, MD, The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry. How could AA be har...
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  • International Bipolar Foundation Event

    Posted on March 19, 2014
    Finding Bipolar Expertise When You Need It Author: Tom Horvath, PhD, ABPP Last week I had the pleasure of hearing a presentation by Tom Jensen, MD, at an International Bipolar Foundation event, Of Mind and Men: Mental Health, Addiction and Hope. Dr. Jensen, an expert on bipolar disorder and the Medical Director of the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), presented a thorough and easy-to-follow review of the medications used to treat bipolar disorder. He included over-the-counter options as well. He showed us that discovering the best medication and a good dosage for each individual is a process that can takes months and months. Bipolar disorder is complex. It makes sense to seek out a specialist to work with. Dr. Jensen can be reached at 619-225-2220. The IBPF is the world...
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  • Choriatiki Salad Recipe

    Posted on March 14, 2014
    Choriatiki Salad Enjoy this Choriatiki Salad recipe, compliments of Practical Recovery's chef, Sarah Jones! 6 Portions 3 firm tomatoes 1 cucumber 1 onion 2 green peppers 1 cup kalamata or black olives 180 grams sheep or goat feta Cheese 1/2 cup olive oil (use first pressed oil, virgin or unrefined) 1/2 cup of vinegar red fresh oregano salt & pepper Method Cut tomatoes & cucumbers into slices & the onions & peppers into rings. Place in salad bowl, sprinkle with a little salt, pepper & oregano Add olives Cut feta cheese into chunks and add to other ingredients in bowl Pour oil and vinegar or over ingredients Mix gently and serve with nice fresh bread CHEERIO, Sarah Residents of Practical Recovery's residential rehab, "Reunion," enjoy all meals ...
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  • A Better Way to Promote Recovery

    Posted on March 12, 2014
    By Tom Horvath, PhD, ABPP Imagine that what people heard about addiction and recovery was roughly the following: “It is a normal part of life for many people to experiment with the use alcohol and tobacco. Some people also experiment with marijuana, heroin, cocaine, psychedelics, and other substances, even though these substances are illegal. A portion of the individuals who use these substances will be come addicted to them.” “What is addiction? All human beings have addictive behavior. We all act on desires (or cravings) for food, liquids, sex, and human connection. When these behaviors or other behaviors, or use of a substance, become excessive, we speak of addiction. Addiction is excessive involvement with anything. Any substance or activity which has a significant impact on ...
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  • The Best Cures for Addiction are Desire and Purpose

    Posted on February 12, 2014
    The Best Cures for Addiction are Desire and Purpose Written for Practical Recovery by Stanton Peele, Ph.D., J.D. Many neuroscientists claim that we have made great advances in addiction—that we have discovered its chemical sources in the brain and are on the verge of a cure. Recently, the Wall Street Journal  published “A Pill to Cure Addiction?”  (based on a JAMA Internal Medicine study). The article trumpets the cure for addiction by “transforming” the brain’s “chemical architecture.” But that view of addiction reveals a basic misunderstanding of why—and how—people are able to overcome addictions. Worse, it makes it less likely that they will do so. Contrary to the idea that withdrawal is the hardest part of quitting, people kick drugs and alcohol all the time. Most rehab pati...
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  • Opiate-Related Celebrity Deaths

    Posted on February 6, 2014
    5 Opiate-Related Celebrity Deaths in the Last Year The recent death of Philip Seymour Hoffman is shining light on the American opiate overdose epidemic, but the problem wasn’t exclusive to Hoffman. In fact, opiate death rates are on the rise, in both the celebrity sphere and the general public. This post illustrates five opiate-related celebrity deaths in the last year.    February 2, 2014 - Philip Seymour Hoffman, 46, was found in the bathroom of his Manhattan apartment with a needle still in his arm. According to the New York post, the cause of death was an apparent heroin overdose. Hoffman had struggled with drug addiction in his early twenties, but was able to stay off drugs for 23 years before relapsing in 2012 and entering a detox facility in 2013. July 13, 2013 – 31-year o...
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  • 5 Ways to Have an Awesome NYE (Without Alcohol)

    Posted on December 31, 2013
    Looking to stay sober this NYE? Read on for some celebration ideas! New Year’s Eve is the “booziest” holiday, full of champagne toasts, parties with open bars, and DUI arrests.  It is a challenging day to stay sober for any individual, especially someone in early recovery.  New Year’s Eve does not have to be all about getting intoxicated.  New Year’s is a wonderful time to evaluate goals for the year ahead and strengthen your recovery plan.  It is also a great time to focus on the achievements of the past year, and appreciate how far you’ve come. Just because you aren’t drinking/using this year, doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time!  Here are some ideas for enjoying New Year’s Eve, and waking up still feeling great on New Year’s Day: 1. Game night!  Invite friends over, make s...
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  • Sober Holiday Activities in San Diego

    Posted on December 6, 2013
    Sometimes it can be a challenge to find holiday activities that don’t include alcohol. Add to that the stress that often comes with the season and some in recovery may find this time of year a difficult one. The good news is there are plenty of holiday activities that can be enjoyed sober. We’ve compiled a list of local San Diego activities to get you started with your celebrations – with so many options, you’ll certainly be able to stay busy, safe and merry the whole season through! Happy sober holidays! Clicking the links will take you to the event pages. November 16 – December 28, 2013 Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas Old Globe Theatre Back for its 16th holiday season, this Dr. Seuss classic is a play the whole family will enjoy! Now – End of Season Residential Ho...
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  • A Move to Collaborative Addiction Care

    Posted on July 25, 2013
    For Professionals (or anyone) Article on collaborative addiction care written for the Addiction Professional website
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  • A Collaborative Approach to Addiction Treatment

    Posted on July 24, 2013
    Natural recovery should be seen as the primary process of addiction recovery. Treatment needs to be seen as an adjunct to natural recovery, not as the essential element of recovery. In physical health, the self-healing capacity of the body is ultimately the source of healing. A physician can intervene, but the body heals. As the 16th century French surgeon Ambroise Pare remarked, “I dressed, and God healed.” When the body is too ill to heal, no physician’s work can be effective. Although surgery today is a highly successful enterprise, we might fail to consider that many patients are refused surgery because the surgeon decides they are not well enough to benefit from it. In psychological health, the capacity to benefit from an intervention appears to be based on the mind’s willingnes...
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  • Addiction recovery is a broader perspective than addiction treatment

    Posted on July 24, 2013
    In addition to the facts arising from the science of addiction treatment, there is another compelling and relevant aspect of addiction: Natural recovery. Most who recover from addictive behavior do so without attending treatment or a support group. Recovery is thus a broader concept than treatment.  In daily life natural recovery is easily visible in how people quit smoking.  Although for most quitting smoking involves multiple attempts and a major expenditure of effort, very few individuals attend treatment or a support group to quit.  Nevertheless, in the US millions of individuals have quit smoking, especially since the widespread recognition in the mid-20th century that smoking was seriously harmful. Large scale population studies have confirmed that even for the substances of ab...
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  • A Realistic (and Practical!) Approach to Addiction Treatment and Recovery

    Posted on July 24, 2013
    The statistic Practical Recovery would most like to publicize is how many of our clients return here after a relapse. When some treatment centers are publicizing “cure rates,” publicizing “return rates” would not appear to be good marketing!  However, the reality of addiction treatment is that after any particular episode the most likely outcome is a slip or relapse. The slip or relapse does not necessarily mean that more treatment is needed, but in some cases it does.  We have had clients who were previously in treatment at many of the “brand-name” treatment centers in the country. When they relapsed they elected to come to Practical Recovery, perhaps because if they returned (to most treatment centers) they would have gone through the same “program” they experienced previously. Every ...
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  • Psychiatric pharmacogenetics for drug and alcohol treatment

    Posted on July 23, 2013
    Psychiatric pharmacogenetics refers to the use of genetic testing to predict the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy for individuals with psychiatric illnesses, including alcohol, drug and addiction problems. Some individuals, for instance, may have a genetic variation that interferes with or enhances the metabolism of a particular drug. Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine recently published an article that reviews psychiatric pharmacogenetics for drug and alcohol treatment (Haile, Kosten & Kosten, 2008). Most FDA-approved pharmacotherapies for addiction treatment are for either alcohol or opiates, and the current study focused on these two addictive substances. The researchers used Medline to conduct a literature review, searching terms related to alcohol and opiates and th...
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  • Inside Rehab Paperback Edition

    Posted on April 3, 2013
    By Tom Hovath, Ph.D., ABPP Congratulations to Anne M. Fletcher, MS, RD, on the release of the paperback edition of Inside Rehab: The Surprising Truth About Addiction Treatment—and How to Get Help That Works. This book has a been a major contribution to the US discussion about who needs rehab, what is less than desirable about the US rehab system, and how that system might be changed. During the nearly five years that Inside Rehab was in preparation, Fletcher visited 15 addiction treatment facilities across the US, and interviewed several hundred professionals and addiction treatment consumers. Practical Recovery is pleased to note we were one of the facilities she visited, and that she interviewed numerous staff and clients. We are proud that a summary of our work is included i...
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