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  • Gradualism:  A New Term For Harm Reduction?

    Posted on March 16, 2018
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. There is a litany of terms in the addiction world – including addiction – that need to go.  Recently, noted author and leading thinker in the field of substance use, Anne Fletcher, M.S., R.D., L.D., wrote an article pointing out the flaws in the term ‘harm-reduction.’  I’ve been guilty of slinging the HR term around all over the place without questioning it, but Fletcher’s article gave me cause for pause. Is the Term Harm Reduction Harmful? Why is it that with any other “disorder” (another term that deserves the axe?) symptom reduction is considered success, but with substance use symptom reduction is described in the negative terms of reducing harm?  A harm reduction plan could just as easily be called a health improvement plan.  Once again, the normal r...
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  • Tom Petty’s Death Highlights Addiction Stigma

    Posted on March 9, 2018
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. The medical examiner’s report on Tom Petty’s death revealed that the perpetual free faller’s last dance was with opiates, not mary jane.  The statements issued by Petty’s family were quick to clarify that Petty’s use of opiates was in response to a fractured hip, because, God forbid he used opiates for recreation, pleasure, or creative exploration. The knee-jerk reaction on the part of Petty’s family is perfectly natural – nobody would want the legacy of a loved one tainted with one of society’s dirtiest and most un-bleachable stains... addiction. In no way is this article written to suggest that Petty was a “drug addict,” a label whose value is universally questionable. The extravagant cocktail of his death dose and a song portfolio littered with drug r...
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  • AA, SMART, LifeRing and WFS Found Comparably Effective

    Posted on March 5, 2018
    by Tom Horvath, Ph.D. According to a new ground-breaking study, individuals attending SMART, LifeRing and WFS now have scientific support for their choice to attend these groups. As with all new scientific findings, we have a reached a new vantage point from which to consider both next research efforts, and the clinical implications of what we now perceive more clearly. Before considering the clinical implications, let’s remind ourselves that any single finding is subject to re-interpretation in the light of new findings. However, this finding has many precedents, and therefore is not especially “single” or divergent. Although not a controlled trial, Atkins and Hawdon (2007) found individuals in multiple mutual help groups to obtain similar outcomes. In psychotherapy resear...
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  • Recovery from Addiction: Confronting Complacency

    Posted on March 2, 2018
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Few would argue against complacency’s tendency to erode the foundations of change.  Most of us experience the lull that can follow a flurry of effort and progress.  We lose steam, let our guard down, relax, and suddenly find ourselves slipping back into the very patterns we are trying to break - whether related to addiction or not.  However, rather than an inevitable stalling of progress and change, the presence of complacency can be a doorway into the deeper vaults of ourselves where reservoirs of powerful motivation lie. Definition of Complacency Mistakenly, I thought of complacency as a synonym for laziness, lack of motivation, and diminishing effort. I was surprised to learn that it actually means a smug, uncritical satisfaction with oneself. I usuall...
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  • Addiction: Where Science Meets Fiction

    Posted on February 23, 2018
    by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. If you wanted an objective appraisal of a home you probably wouldn’t ask the sellers to choose the appraiser. With drug research this is exactly what happens. Congress advocates for the war on drugs, Congress funds the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and with their billion dollar annual budget NIDA is responsible for 90% of the “scientific” research on drugs. Eric Sterling, a lawyer who spent a decade writing U.S. drug laws, is on record (pg. 179 of this book) saying that if any government-funded scientist produced research findings that contradicted the brain disease model of addiction, then the head of NIDA would be called in front of a congressional committee to receive a clear mandate to shut down the research. She might even be fired. NIDA’s r...
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  • The Streets Are No Place for Addicts

    Posted on February 16, 2018
    The Streets Are No Place For Addicts by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Treating trauma with trauma isn’t helpful, it’s abusive. Turning away from loved ones in need deepens isolation and disconnection. Trauma and isolation cause addiction, connection cures it. Addiction, trauma, and mental illness occur amongst people without a home at much higher rates than the general population. The solution of casting our wounded into the shadows beneath the shoddy shelters of freeway overpasses is no solution at all – it only deepens the problem. Far from a naïve pipe-dream born in a hippie-haze, the story of the Portland Hotel Society in Vancouver, Canada is a hopeful example of a tangible solution - Housing First. As part of Vancouver’s adoption of the common sense ‘Four Pillars Approach’ to ...
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  • Internet Addiction in an Attention Economy

    Posted on February 9, 2018
    Internet Addiction in an Attention Economy We Can Use Technology to Practice Moderation by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. Nothing makes media moguls and tech giants salivate more than our attention.  Fanciful algorithms identify and target individual interests to pop irresistible, personally tailored click-bate onto our screens with a voyeuristic air.  Isn’t it a bit strange that google knows I’ve been browsing for office furniture this week, so now when I read about the budget bill banner ads of desks and chairs litter the periphery of my screens?  Our eyeballs are so coveted that we experience a relentless barrage of shiny sparkles vying for a piece of our consciousness.  The result?  An ADHD culture with the attention span of a goldfish and an insatiable appetite to ingest substances t...
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  • Changing Addictive Behavior in a Culture of Convenience

    Posted on February 2, 2018
    Changing Addictive Behavior in a Culture of Convenience By Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. The process of changing addictive behavior is anything but convenient.  To make matters worse, people changing addictive behavior find themselves couched in a culture of convenience.  Moving away from a reliable source of comfort is already hard enough with an enveloping worship of all that is indulgent. Dr. Richard Alpert said that we are “living in the yuppy paradise of more is better.”  There’s probably some truth to his quote, and it might be more accurate to include a caveat about convenience.  More hard work isn’t better.  More sacrifice isn’t better.  I want it easier and, like Veruca in Wonka, I want it now! I want doors to slide open for me and cars to start by pushing a button rather t...
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  • How to Quit Drinking Through Self-Guided Change

    Posted on January 26, 2018
    How to Quit Drinking? Self-Guided Change by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. For those who wonder how to quit drinking problematically, it is important to understand that seeing through the cultural brainwashing is arguably the most challenging aspect of overcoming addiction. For starters, most people who have a “problem” according to family and society are not “addicts” at all. Most people know what’s best for them. When it comes to substance use a culture of shame and ostracizing often fosters unwarranted self-doubt. A comprehensive research review was published this week by Michler Bishop and the results are striking: The culmination of 50 years of research shows that 80-90% of people successfully moderate or stop unhealthy patterns of substance use, and that most people achieve success...
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  • Social Constructionism and the Roots of Addiction

    Posted on January 19, 2018
    Social Constructionism and the Roots of Addiction Addiction is a Social Construct by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D. The perpetually changing understanding of addiction provides clear evidence of its social construction. With rare exception, the infectious agents that cause a disease don’t change, the pathological biological processes of a disease don’t change, and the biologically degenerative conditions of a disease don’t change. If left untreated, diseases generally worsen. Addiction has no infectious agent, no biologically degenerative condition, there is no agreed upon definition, the diagnostic criteria constantly change, and perhaps most strikingly, when left untreated most people recover from addiction. However, when addiction is treated with leading methods – criminal records, jai...
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