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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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